Thanks to a social-media-hungry public and the rise of foodie culture, today's caterers need to be constantly feeding the imagination of event guests with new, original, and—above all—delicious cuisine.
From the latest trends in wedding and corporate catering to functional tips for food displays and specialty menus, food has become a sophisticated medium and an integral element to an event’s theme, brand message, or identity.
Here are the most up-to-date trends in catering, ideas for unique food presentations, and tips and strategies from food festivals and tastings. Find catering ideas for breakfast and brunch, lunch, dinner, canapes, cocktails, and more.
Pastries and coffee and deli sandwiches, chips, and a cookie aren't the most exciting breakfast and lunch options for meeting breaks. Depending on the location, hotels and restaurants are putting a spin on the typical meeting break fare with food and drink offerings that are locally inspired or locally sourced.
From Chicago-themed candy and snack displays and staples of Puerto Rico to inventive hot beverages inspired by Park City slopes, here's a look at how certain venues are elevating meeting break menus.
Ideas and Trends Shaping Today's Catering Industry
Here are some great catering ideas and trends that stood out at the fifth annual Art of Catering Food Conference—presented by Catersource and the International Caterers Association.
1. Catering to special diets is the new norm. Having a single vegetarian alternative to your meat-focused main dish no longer meets the needs of attendees. Vegan, gluten-free, organically grown, and nut-free are more common diets than ever. Planners and caterers need to be aware of all allergies and diets when crafting the menu.
2. The right garnish can take your dishes to the next level. It’s not just what you put on the canapes, but also how you display it, and where you source your garnish ideas from. When serving fish for example, remove and bake the skin, add some salt, and serve it as a skin chip to complement the main dish. With beef, why not utilise the red wine and leftover mushrooms to create a red hibiscus wine sauce with dehydrated mushroom chips. Other popular garnish ideas include edible flowers—the latest craze—as well as charred lemons and limes and carrot ribbon chips.
3. Reinvent ways to present canapes and small plates. We at LFC recommend getting creative with canapes and small plates. Take bruschetta, for instance, and create tomato shells filled with parmesan mousse and garnish with balsamic glaze and basil crystals. It's the same combination of flavours as the traditional presentation, but with a new spin.
4. Stations are becoming more interactive. “When we do these [Iberico ham] stations, guests come up to us, and we have stories to tell them about how the hams are fed and the ingredients in the dishes. It makes people happy when you interact with them.”
Beyond the chef interaction, LFC chef Florent gets guests involved with a station offering three options—pimento cheese, smoked cheddar and jalapeño, and creamy corn—for the classic Southern side dish to accompany a carving station of chicken, pork, or beef.