It is a well-known fact that food is one of the most important elements to any event no matter what the occasion. Food brings people together and should be a positive experience for your guests.
Here are 4 tips to consider when planning your next event menu
Tip 1: Plan the type of meal service accordingly.
From finger foods to plated meals and buffets to food stations there are so many types of meal services you can choose from. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve experienced is that hosts choose the wrong type of meal service for their specific type of event and their guest demographic.
There is nothing worse than attending a networking event and the food available is clunky, messy and served on a plate. It would be more suitable to serve an array of small bites at a networking event rather than a larger portion as guests like to mix and mingle. Use mini spoons and skewers to keep the portion size manageable.
If you are having a large event or wedding and two cultures are coming together you may want to consider a family style meal as it ensures your guests at that table interact and have a variety of meal and flavour choices to choose from.
The type of meal service you choose will also affect the layout of the room and the amount of time you have for the meal service itself. For example, plated meals will require more time and more space is needed in between tables and chairs for wait staff to serve the meal properly.
Tip 2: Always provide meal options for every type of diet.
These days a one size meal approach does not fit all. With many allergies, intolerances, faith requirements and voluntary dietary restrictions such as veganism, you need to ensure that your event menu has several options for every type of diet. Consider creating a menu with three or more entrée items, one vegan option, and two meat options such as a fish or chicken.
You may also want to offer gluten and dairy free elements such as gluten free gravy or vegan cheese if you are serving a Poutine. It would also be a great idea to offer three types of dessert options, one healthy, one savoury and one decadent. The last thing you want is for your guests to feel left out, uncatered for and even worse, hungry!
Do not forget about the drinks. Consider providing organic beer options, ciders and plenty of mocktails too.
Tip 3: Presentation
The way that food looks is just as important as they way it tastes and an exciting menu presentation can add a lot of flair to any event. It has become increasingly popular to have food and/or drink bars at your event and it’s because it adds an interactive element that all guests love. You can pretty much turn any meal choice into an easy to access food bar from popcorn to potatoes and everything in between.
If you are in charge of meal planning for say, a family event, consider serving fruit or vegetables in cute individual (reusable) containers, Family style meals can also double as your centerpieces too. Instead of just salad chopped up on a plate, make it a roll up salad. Imagining new ways that food is presented and served will give your event that wow factor guests are looking for.
Tip 4: Mind the environment.
It is important to consider the environment when you are deciding on meal options for your event. You may want to ask where the food comes from? Is it local? The season of your event will come into play as some items may not be available locally in your area. You may need to adjust choices to reduce the carbon footprint of your menu.
Serve fair trade coffee, tea and chocolates when possible and make meat choices that are more sustainable such as grass-fed, free range, hormone free and certified organic. Don't forget to skip the bottled water and set up larger water dispensers for easy access. You can even infuse the water for an upscale feel all your guests will appreciate.
You will want to carefully order your food so there is less waste but if your venue/caterer approves bring along some extra compostable or recyclable take out containers or Tupperware so you can take leftovers home or share with your guests, it is a great way to reduce food waste. If you are looking to give back you could also donate the leftover food to a food bank or Women’s shelter.
Is food presentation important to you? Have you implemented any of these tips when choosing your event menu? How did it go over with your guests? Do you have any other tips or ideas that could help with menu planning?