Food Can Make or Break an Event
As an event planner, food and beverage should always be top of mind, and skimping on that portion of the event is not an option. Along with the overall vibe and flow, food can make or break an event.
Keeping in mind the goal of the event you are planning, choose wisely. Is this a casual BBQ for staff or is it a fancier garden-party style function? If finger foods, salads and burgers might be a natural fit for the former, the latter might include things like elaborate fruit and cheese skewers, champagne and mini racks of lamb.
This being said, no matter the style of the event, aim for quality whenever you can. To take burgers as an example, you can find all kinds: the more indulging ones with fresh buns, quality cuts of meat and funky ingredients, the plain versions made with frozen patties and everything in-between.
If the food is good, there are better chances people will actually enjoy the event. But if you believe there will be a majority of big eaters, quantity and diversity may be what will have them leave the event satisfied.
Also, always consider potential food allergies and intolerances.
How Will You Serve It?
Ultimately, service is just as important as what you serve. Inferior service can spoil any event, no matter how good the food. It’s all about timing. For example, if there is a speaker scheduled during a sit-down dinner, the service has to be on-point and on time. Otherwise, people won’t be listening and they’ll be annoyed that they didn’t get a refill on their drink.
Sometimes called tray service, butler service is usually used at receptions. Uniformed food service staff move through the crowd with platters of bite-sized appetizers and napkins, offering them to each guest. This is an effective and upscale way to present hors d’oeuvres. However, it’s not the most effective way to serve large quantities of food to a lot of guests.
Plated service or a served meal is normally used for seated dinners or conventions. This is a more formal presentation; it requires the food service provider to have trained and plentiful staff in order to properly execute this style of service. Plated meals allow for synchronized timing when multiple speakers, awards, and entertainment are scheduled throughout the evening or between courses. This type of service provides for a much smoother and timelier event itinerary and show flow. It’s also less expensive than providing food stations because the hotel already has the staff on payroll and can control food costs much more effectively.
The next option is a buffet or food stations. Guests go to the food and select the items they want. Using food service personnel to serve the food, instead of letting the guests serve themselves allows to control portions and reduce food costs, and offers a more professional experience.
At the smaller food stations, you can incorporate things such as a chef-attended station, where food is cut or cooked in front of the guests. It’s always helpful to have a double-sided buffet service. It’s also wise to have servers provide the beverages at the table, so no drink lines form with people holding their food plates in their hands.
All in all, don’t skimp on the food and beverage portion of the event you are planning.
Allow for a healthy food and beverage budget that is reflective of the size, style and goal of the event. If you’re planning an over-the-top event, remember that the food will need to be just as amazing. Lastly, don’t be afraid to be creative and to combine different service styles whenever necessary.