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Picture by Nora Edinger
Eric and Jennifer Fedczak of Wheeling divide and conquer when it will come to turning out themed feasts for summertime gatherings such as graduation open residences. Jennifer does the celebration preparing and decorating. Eric does the cooking.


WHEELING — Figuring out just how several heads of cabbage it will consider to make coleslaw ample for that looming graduation open up home can make even seasoned residence cooks start off Googling “food trucks in the vicinity of me.”

But, a household which is been there and completed that in the entire-on, house-kitchen area way three occasions in the past ten years explained it can be completed.

“Just make it as easy as doable,” advised Eric Fedczak, house prepare dinner extraordinaire by night and a lab scientist who specializes in flavorings by working day. “If you go complex, then you are pulling your hair out.”

Eric and wife Jennifer Fedczak recommend rookies at making ready food items for open houses and other big-scale summer season activities to emphasis on a “bar” of some sort.

Believe tacos with all the toppings and a hefty amount of Mexican-design and style rice on the side, pasta with all the prospects and a mongo salad, or baked potatoes completely ready for a pile on, claimed Jennifer, who does the function scheduling and decorating for family members blowouts.

LEIDERHOSEN, Any person?

Not that the Fedczaks require to maintain it uncomplicated any more. Twenty many years into serious occasion production and cake earning, they can go all out and have the spaetzli to prove it.

“Sydney loves (the Disney film) ‘Rapunzel,’ ” Jennifer explained of the 2022 Wheeling Park Substantial College graduation that sparked their closing and most challenging open up household menu. “But, she didn’t want it to look like a 6 12 months old’s birthday celebration.”

A summertime oktoberfest met the will need. Eric whipped up delicate pretzels, German potato salad, sauerkraut, a red cabbage dish, potato pancakes, a few sorts of brats, meat and veggie balls in a red wine gravy and spaetzli (a dumpling).

Jennifer established the temper with German candies on tables and various thematic nods to the motion picture that showed up in both equally decor and desserts.

“She (Sydney) designed hand pies, but we also manufactured chocolate chip cookies,” she explained of two these things.

Their to start with open up dwelling – daughter Savannah’s in 2014 – had Americana themes that gave a nod to the Patriots mascot. That menu showcased vintage picnic food items. When daughter Emmie graduated in 2019, there was a Hawaiian vibe as she had not too long ago been to the Aloha condition on a high university refrain excursion.

“She brought again some smoked salt,” Eric pointed out, practically rubbing his hands with glee at the memory of tapping into an genuine taste for that individual meal.

Social gathering Arranging

Emmie’s Hawaiian theme was a little bit of a turning place, Jennifer famous. The family members experienced a slew of birthday functions and holiday meals underneath their belt, but this was the to start with time the pair experienced tried out a absolutely themed menu that was big scale. They viewed as bringing in the execs.

“We wanted to do a pig, but we couldn’t uncover any person to do it that did not cost like $900,000,” Jennifer described. “So, we just did it ourselves.”

The final result ranged from pulled pork to sweet potato salad to fruity beverages. And, as for all the Fedczak functions, there was a vegetarian entree.

Manufacturing that a great deal meals and entertaining dozens of guests in their yard was not without a finding out curve, Eric mentioned. Following a few of decades of demo and mistake, he explained they’ve formulated a process and a selection.

They borrow some items – like tables, chairs and some chafing dishes – from church. They have other things – which include substantial-volume consume dispensers, a huge tent and a pergola with a created-in serving bar the loved ones gifted Jennifer with on a recent Mother’s Working day.

They keep time in mind. Bash ideas sometimes start off with theme, menu selections and recipe research/progress remaining completed months in advance of time.

Jennifer tends to deal with the theming and decor side of issues, including decorating the elaborate cakes they typically create for this sort of events. The daughters pitch in anywhere needed. Eric focuses on the literal meat and potatoes.

“What I want to know is, ‘Did it flavor very good?’ ” he reported.

That staff tactic turned out to be significant for Sydney’s 2022 open residence, they mentioned.

The double derecho that struck the town that year still left the Fedczaks without electric power until eventually about 48 hrs prior to the occasion. They did some meal prep in borrowed kitchens and had been still making some of the classic German dishes the morning before the event.

Which prompted Jennifer to offer you a further idea: Program summertime parties after the heat of the working day has handed. Go for late afternoon or early evening.


Whilst the relatives enjoys donuts for particular situations, Jennifer and Eric have become as very well recognised for their elaborate cakes as for their savory get together fare.

“They’re really around the major,” Eric reported, noting he employs primo substances these kinds of as significant-finish vanilla to make positive cakes style excellent, as properly. “They’re definitely pleasant-on the lookout cakes, but we’ve appear a extensive way.”

In truth, one particular cake that Jennifer did a several a long time back again was the Ohio County Region Honest grand winner. It was a replica of spaghetti and meatballs completed with banana cake, chocolate truffles, a lot of pasta-like icing and a strawberry sauce.

There have been cakes that appeared like rubber ducky tubs, cakes wrapped with fondant inexperienced peas in the pod and, recently, a substantial tiered cake that was a chocolate/vanilla split from the inside of out.

“We had to travel it to Canonsburg. Sydney and I have been in the back seat with the cake on a board in in between us,” Eric recalled of the latter cake, which was manufactured for Jennifer’s sister’s birthday.

Men and women have a tendency to have a big reaction to both the celebration spreads and these cakes, the couple famous. Guests, in truth, once in a while propose the couple take their occasion generation qualified, but Eric and Jennifer said they have no strategies to quit their day work.

“It’s something we love carrying out, and we were being fearful if we did it for a living it could suck the pleasure out of it,” Jennifer explained.

They also have no intention of carrying out weddings, really should those people start off rolling close to amongst their daughters whenever shortly.

All 3 young gals have been hinting that mother and dad need to do their cakes. Eric and Jennifer said they might do a groom’s cake or a cookie bar, but that would be it.

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