Food really is the cornerstone of an event and, while fresh ingredients, expertly prepared and skilfully presented, will never go out of fashion, organisers are increasingly looking for food with ‘wow’ factor.
They want the catering to be talked about, long after the music has faded and the last glass of Champagne has been drunk.
The keys to this are creativity – in the styling and presentation – and a thorough understanding of the type of event being catered for.
At networking events, for example, the aim is to get complete strangers really interacting with each other. So, why not move away from a standard canapé and bowl food reception, which can leave guests rooted to the spot and put in some interactive food stations to encourage them to move around the room? These can also provide a good conversational starting point, particularly if some element of assembly is required.
So, why not move away from a standard canapé and bowl food reception, which can leave guests rooted to the spot and put in some interactive food stations to encourage them to move around the room?
These can also provide a good conversational starting point, particularly if some element of assembly is required.
In terms of interactive food stations, pie stations, street food stands and ice cream carts are tried and tested and always popular … but, in the world of events, organisers are always on the lookout for the next big thing.
In 2017 I am confident we will see a real move towards RAW food stations. I’m not talking live sushi rolling – that has been done. Think nutritional ‘mock’tails and libations made with super fruits, served alongside eats, such as beef carpaccio and tuna tartare.
I’m not talking live sushi rolling – that has been done. Think nutritional ‘mock’tails and libations made with super fruits, served alongside eats, such as beef carpaccio and tuna tartare.
Peyton Events has launched its new Britain – A collection of Premium menus, which champions the use of small, independent, British food producers, with a stunning RAW food station comprising dishes such as sea bass and salmon ceviche tacos and a beautiful display of vegetable tartare.
Even though dry January is now behind us, there is little doubt that the current trend for dishes that are low in carbs and sugar is set to continue and a RAW food station ticks all those healthy eating boxes.
And the less preparation and process are used, the easier it is to cater for those with allergies, which is particularly helpful as the list of special dietary requirements grows ever longer.
In terms of event catering, interactive food landscapes are also increasingly popular.
Picture a 3D forest scene or an underwater oasis, where every item is a delicious morsel to be devoured.
New serving options include canapés suspended from fixtures, creating a mesmerising focal point and allowing another level of interaction between guests and food.
One my favourites is the ‘macaroon tree.’ These never fail to attract a crowd, tempted by the opportunity to pick as many mini desserts as they like, the number (and calories) forgotten in the novelty of the presentation.
Also, the craving for nostalgia shows no sign of abating and this is now being echoed in food stations with a kitsch or throwback quality.
Our knickerbocker glory interactive station with kitchenette façade went down a treat at a recent showcase event at IWM London and proved a ‘fun’ element is always appealing.
For seated dinners, sharing platters offer endless scope and a great talking point. Instead of serving each guest the same starter or dessert, why not mix it up with traditional antipasti platters?
Alternatively, the table could be set with a selection of rustic boards bearing a variety of cuisines, such as seafood, Tex-Mex or Spanish tapas, while the health conscious, could enjoy a mini garden of vegetables – particularly pretty for a summer marquee garden party.
On the subject of summer, however, few foods still beat a barbecue and as long as a wet weather option is available (most venues can still cook excellent BBQ food inside as well – always check!) this will remain a firm party favourite. But do not just expect a basic burger and a sausage in a bun – BBQs have come a very long way since then. At Peyton Events our menus include
At Peyton Events our menus include dry aged beef burger with sweet cured onions, Monterey Jack cheese and crisp lettuce; free range chicken with habanero peppers, thyme and molasses and blackened chargrilled mackerel wrap with mint yoghurt dressing and sweet potato.
And along with vegetarian options such as Sussex feta, honey and avocado burger, we offer a wide selection of sides, including new season broad beans, peas, radish salad with grilled sour dough croutons.
So whatever and whenever the event, I hope I’ve provided you with plenty of food for thought.
Author: Lorraine Thorne, Head of Sales IWM London and Peyton Events
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