Trends in Catering for Private Events: What’s Hot and What’s Not
They say the only constant in the world is change. Several factors determine change, even in the culinary industry. The recent and most well-known factor was the global pandemic that brought the economies of the world to their knees.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound effect on the hospitality industry. There was a ban on social gatherings and travel restrictions that affected the industry negatively. Those providing culinary services like us wondered whether things would return to normalcy.
Luckily, the world has largely returned to normalcy, and with it, new catering trends are also beginning to emerge for 2023. We have tapped right into this new opportunity and adjusted accordingly. In fact, the industry has come up with much better innovations.
Among these new developments, there are those that we consider hot and those that are not so hot. Buckle up as we proceed to look at these new changes and what they mean for your culinary services.
Sustainable and Local Sourcing: There has been a growing emphasis on using locally sourced, organic, and sustainable ingredients. Caterers are increasingly focusing on eco-friendly practices and reducing food waste.
Customization and Personalization
Clients are looking for unique and personalized catering experiences. Customized menus, signature cocktails, and interactive food stations that allow guests to choose their ingredients have been on trend. Long are the days when you expected people to trust you with their needs during their private events without having input on how they wanted the occasion to turn out.
Fusion cuisine is a culinary trend that involves combining elements, ingredients, and cooking techniques from different culinary traditions or cultures to create innovative and unique dishes.
It’s a creative approach to cooking that blends the best of multiple food cultures to produce exciting and flavorful results. Fusion cuisine has gained popularity as people become more adventurous in their culinary preferences, seeking new taste experiences that go beyond traditional boundaries.
Fusion cuisine can take many approaches, including creating combinations, cross-cultural influences, innovative techniques, unique presentations, and global ingredients. You can juggle these up and find what works for your guests.
Great examples of fusion cuisine include Sushi Burritos with Japanese and Mexican elements; Tex-Mex, which blends Mexican cuisine with Texas flavors; and Korean tacos, which marry Korean BBQ flavors with the format of a Mexican taco and are often served with kimchi and Asian-inspired slaw.
Others include Indian Curry Pizza, which incorporates Indian curry flavors as toppings on a pizza crust, creating a fusion of Indian and Italian cuisines; Asian Fusion Noodle Bowls, which mix elements from various Asian cuisines, such as Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese, into a single noodle bowl; and finally, Sushi Pizza, which fuses the concept of sushi with the shape and format of a pizza, often served with sushi-grade fish and sushi rice.
Plant-Based and Dietary-Friendly Options
With the rise in vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets, catering services have been incorporating more diverse and inclusive menu options to accommodate various dietary preferences.
The best way to go about it is to Create a well-rounded menu that includes a variety of plant-based dishes, vegetarian options, vegan choices, gluten-free alternatives, and other dietary-friendly items. This ensures there’s something suitable for everyone.
You can also utilize fresh and seasonal fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and plant-based proteins to create flavorful and nutritious dishes. For proteins, explore various plant-based protein sources such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, and beyond. These ingredients can be used to craft delicious and satisfying main courses.
Elevate plant-based and dietary-friendly dishes with bold and exciting sauces, herbs, and seasonings to enhance the overall dining experience. However, you need to be aware of common allergens such as nuts, dairy, and gluten. Remember to prepare them in separate containers to prevent cross-contamination.
Interactive Food Experiences
Interactive food experiences have become a popular trend in the catering industry as they engage guests in a dynamic and memorable way. These experiences go beyond traditional sit-down meals and buffet services, allowing guests to actively participate in the creation or customization of their food and drinks.
The best way to realize this new trend is to employ ideas like food stations where guests can build their own. Examples can be taco stations, pasta bars, sushi rolling stations, or salad bars with a variety of toppings and dressings.
Another great idea is organizing live cooking demonstrations. Have skilled chefs prepare dishes live in front of guests, explaining the techniques and ingredients used. This allows guests to learn from and interact with the chefs while enjoying fresh, expertly cooked-meals.
“Other great ideas for interactive food experiences may include DIY food and drink stations, food and wine pairing, a chef’s table, dessert decorating culinary workshops, food and beverage pairing games, food tasting challenges, and virtual cooking classes.” Says Josh, owner of Fresh Corn Grill in West Hollywood.
Food Presentation and Artistry
Food presentation and artistry are essential aspects of the culinary world, focusing on the visual appeal of dishes to enhance the overall dining experience. A well-presented dish not only entices the eyes but also creates anticipation and excitement for the flavors to come.
Let’s look at some of the most interesting and trending ideas:
Plating Techniques: Plating refers to how the food is arranged on the plate. Chefs use various techniques to create visually appealing presentations, such as stacking, layering, fanning, and creating artistic shapes with food items.
Color Balance: A visually appealing dish often incorporates a balance of colors. Chefs use ingredients with contrasting hues to create a vibrant and appetizing plate. Colors can be used to evoke specific emotions or highlight the freshness of the ingredients.
Garnishing: Garnishing adds the finishing touches to a dish. Fresh herbs, edible flowers, microgreens, or citrus slices are commonly used as garnishes to add pops of color and freshness.
Texture Variation: Incorporating a variety of textures on the plate can make the dish more interesting. Combining crunchy elements with smooth, creamy components adds depth to the overall dining experience.
Negative Space: The strategic use of negative space (empty areas) on the plate can draw attention to the food items and make the presentation more visually striking.
Plate Selection: Choosing the right plate or serving vessel is crucial for food presentation. Different shapes, sizes, and colors of plates can complement the dish and enhance its visual appeal.
Symmetry and Balance: Achieving symmetry and balance in the arrangement of food items can create a sense of harmony and elegance on the plate.
Portion Control: Proper portion sizes help maintain the overall balance of the dish and avoid overcrowding on the plate.
Storytelling: Some chefs use food presentation to tell a story or convey a theme related to the dish or the restaurant’s concept.
Artistic Elements: Advanced food presentation may involve more elaborate artistic elements, such as edible paintings, sculpted elements, or intricate designs created with sauces or purees.
Incorporating Local Ingredients: Using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients not only supports sustainability but also adds authenticity and uniqueness to the presentation.
Personal Style: Each chef may have their own personal style and artistic approach to food presentation, making their dishes recognizable and memorable.
What’s Not (or Less Popular)
Earlier trends were great at the time, but they have since lost their glory, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they are still relevant to some traditional guests. It would be great to keep them in mind, as some guests may request them. Here are some of the great ideas that are currently less popular:
- Traditional Buffets: The classic buffet setup with chafing dishes and long queues has become less popular at private events. Guests prefer more personalized and interactive dining experiences.
- Standard Drink Menus: Offering only basic drink options without any creativity or craft has become less appealing. Clients now expect unique cocktails, artisanal spirits, and non-alcoholic options that align with their event theme.
- Overly Elaborate Dishes: While the presentation is essential, overly complicated dishes with too many components can sometimes be overwhelming for guests.
- Single-Note Desserts: Basic desserts without any exciting flavors or textures are losing popularity. Guests seek desserts with surprising elements that leave a lasting impression.
- Formality Over Comfort: Traditional formal dining setups that prioritize etiquette over guest comfort have become less desirable. Clients are opting for more relaxed and inviting dining environments.
- Limited Dietary Options: Ignoring dietary restrictions and not offering enough choices for different dietary preferences can deter potential clients who prioritize inclusivity.
- Overuse of Technology: While technology can enhance the catering experience, overusing it or relying solely on digital interactions can make the event feel impersonal.
Remember that catering trends are continually evolving, and what is popular today may change in the future. Staying informed about current preferences, being open to innovation, and maintaining a focus on quality and customer satisfaction will help catering businesses thrive in a competitive market.