🕘 May 23rd, 2024

Tips on Hot New Catering Trends

*originally published in Corporate Meetings Network

Some intel on the latest new catering menu trends from The Lazy Gourmet’s Shannon Boudreau:

Every time I design a menu for a client, I treat it like I’m auditioning for American Idol. I need the initial menu and proposal to stand out, be unique and exciting, but also feel like our brand. An initial proposal to a client is often like a blind audition. If it’s a new client and we want to make it past the initial auditions and be invited to ‘Hollywood Week’ a.k.a. the tasting and then hopefully win the whole competition!

Even if all of these trends are not adopted in 2024 and you’re only able to incorporate a couple into your event designs with your catering partner, you’ll likely appear more innovative and exciting then your competitor and be able to deliver a fresh and unique event experience that will have your guests talking about it for months.

HIDE AND SEEK BUFFETS

What if your event appeared to have no food, only because it was out of sight until your guests discovered it among the event furnishings. Using dressers, record cabinets, side boards, apothecary tables is a great way to achieve this, and once discovered can look more than Instagram worthy!

I DON’T DRINK ALCOHOL, I EAT IT

Gaining in popularity are spirit-infused dishes incorporating some of people’s favourite cocktails. Think Dirty Martini Pasta with olives, gin sauce and blue cheese, Scotch-Infused Popcorn with rosemary and Espresso Martini Tiramisu Cups. The possibilities are endless!

MONOCHROMATIC

We have been incorporating this popular trend for some time, and it’s sure to have guests taking out their phones to snap pictures. This also works really well for weddings and incorporating their design colours onto the plate.  This does require your culinary team to get a little creative, or you can borrow our ideas below.

CAVIAR WISHES

The great thing about incorporating caviar is that it instantly elevates your menu and clients are aware there is a price tag associated with it. It always impresses guests and there are cost-effective ways to add a little luxury even if working with a budget. A little goes a long a way when served as part of a welcome drink on a salt and vinegar chip or done as a ‘toast” in lieu of champagne.

FLAVOUR FLASHBACKS

The post-pandemic era has guests feeling more adventurous, but also craving something comforting that evokes nostalgic memories from their childhood. We recommend incorporating this popular new trend into a cocktail reception or the dessert portion for ease. You can do this in elevated ways with creative dishes like Ramen Friti Bites with thinly sliced char siu and green onion pearls, Tomato Soup Spheres with gruyere crisps, or embrace a childlike feel with Cereal Ice Cream Sandwiches, Soda Flavored Cupcakes or Coke Float Popcorn with Milk Powder.

SAVOURY COCKTAILS ON THE RISE

We are finally seeing this trend become more mainstream. I first created a version of a Caprese Cocktail back at The Catersource conference in 2018 and I’m pretty sure most people were a little reluctant to try it. Now, thanks to places like Double Chicken Please in New York, savoury cocktails can be found around the globe and as someone with little to no sweet tooth I hope these stay! My favourites are Whiskey Dan Dan and Chili Clarified Pizza Punch, and a Thai Beef and Basil Gimlet.

THE NEW ESPRESSO MARTINI

Your bar staff will love you for adopting the easiest riff on an espresso martini that tastes just as good — The Carajillo. For this all you need is equal parts coffee or espresso and Licor 43. Shake, strain and elevate it with your garnish, chocolate bark or shavings, fresh skewered berries, cinnamon bark or toasted pistachios.

VINYL BARS: THE NEW SPEAKEASY

This fun and interactive idea works best if you have a venue with multiple rooms, but If you don’t, work with your event rental company to create one. It should be somewhere ideally soundproof, although moveable walls and thick drapery also works in a pinch! Your bartender will work as DJ, playing a small selection of records guests choose. The cocktail they receive is determined by the vinyl album they choose as well as what side. Cocktail menus can also be printed on old 45s to keep on theme. Need some further inspiration? Purchase the book Booze and Vinyl from Amazon or your local bookstore!

WHAT’S NEXT?

In the next year I predict we will also see a rise of third-culture cuisine, interactive and edible games at cocktail receptions, Asian-inspired dishes,  sheet cakes as table centrepieces, tasting bars at events, and micro-region menus.

 

To find out how we can help make your next event a big hit, send one of our event planners an email here



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