TOP 5 IDEAS: CREATIVE CATERING OPTIONS
Written by: Jeanna André-Murdie
- Compliments to the CHEF – For a while now, there has been movement towards offering local fare options in food and beverages. I work with several clients in the agriculture industry and recently we were asked to allow award-winning farmers to bring in samples of their harvests for the chef to prepare. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was the chef eager to meet these farmers and use the samples, but they established ongoing relationships. Everyone wins. Engage the chef – ask them to give you something to show your delegates you really thought of the content!
- CHANGE THE ROOM – There are a lot of hotels that have areas that go unused after events like complimentary breakfasts locations. Ask to use this space for your meals! You’ll be able to use smaller tables to engage groups in a different way. As a bonus, it gives delegates a break from the same meeting space and can open new lines of communication.
- FAMILY STYLE – This is one catering option that I personally think is under-used. I like to think outside the box, so for a luncheon at a hotel I used to work for I did just that. All our food was prepared off-site and brought in. Doing a plated lunch for 100 was usually difficult and unwieldy. Buffet was always better … but this group had seen it all. We decided to serve a Mexican-inspired lunch in a family-style. We offered big bowls of food, platters of salads and delegates could make their own fajitas and tacos. Guess what? They LOVED it! Everyone helped themselves, it made for great conversation and it was a fun way to be able to choose what you wanted and make your meal how you liked it.
- Food-Truck INSPIRED service – We had the pleasure of attending a great industry party that had the very cool idea of driving food-trucks into the space to serve the group. There were a few different trucks to choose from which was great. The lineups were well maintained by taking orders in the line and then presenting the number when you got to the window. This inspired food service would work well in an outdoor space for the end of session or even just dessert. HELLO ice cream truck!
- Give and RECEIVE – Ask your catering manager if they have a sustainability plan for food waste. This is a new concept and option for some venues. See if you can give safe, cooked, leftover food to an organization in the neighbourhood that supports vulnerable people. You can only imagine how much food waste happens in hotels. Think about how your delegates would feel about giving to the community. Imagine how many kids would benefit from leftover whole fruit for breakfast clubs, or pans of pasta donated to a shelter to add to their evening menu? See if this is something you can arrange with organizations that the venue has a relationship with.