It seems like every month ushers in new trends in the special events industry and, as event professionals, it’s essential to remain up-to-date with what’s catching clients’ eyes. Catering trends are especially vital because food can truly define an event and its overall guest experience.
Let’s explore some of the top food trends we’re seeing throughout the industry, as well as how to adjust your processes accordingly and exceed your clients’ expectations.
What’s on the scene
More than ever, sustainability is a top priority in food sourcing — clients want great quality, but with the smallest environmental footprint. In that, we’re seeing a significant increase in requests for plant-based protein thanks to mainstream products like meatless burgers.
For events, there is more demand for creatively-crafted plant foods like tofu, tempeh, and seitan. There is also a push for more sustainable meat and seafood that are responsibly sourced and supplied by eco-friendly companies. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch is a great resource to better understand the environmental impact of certain types of seafood.
In the realm of responsible food and beverage behaviors, we’re also noticing mocktails as a popular choice for clients. These alcohol-free alternatives are crafted with just as much innovation and care as their counterparts, while removing inebriated guests from the equation and reducing the rate of drunk driving.
What’s on the way out
Alongside the push for sustainability, the traditional menu of beef, chicken, and fish is fading in popularity. Clients want innovative options that incorporate different dietary preferences (i.e. vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.), so the standards of yesterday aren’t making the cut anymore.
Old favorites, like sliders, mac and cheese, and vegetable plates, are out as well — that is, unless they’ve been transformed with new ingredients that shows forward thinking.
Legume-based noodles, patties made from pea and soy protein, and fermented veggies take these dishes to the next level, enhancing the guest experience with unique dishes not readily available in one’s kitchen.
Bringing trends to your events
Sooner rather than later, your clients will be requesting these trends for their events — if they haven’t already. Therefore, you need to be prepared to adjust your food buying, cooking, and serving procedures to accommodate the new direction.
Seek out suppliers for new ingredients and communicate your needs with them. You need to ensure that specific foods are available within your timeline. Start experimenting with recipes, too. Consider implementing an in-house competition to see what your team can create.
Think about storage and serving considerations as well. Some ingredients may not keep as well as others, which will impact your buying habits. You’ll also need to ensure proper refrigeration at each event’s venue. While certain dishes may be just fine on display throughout the event, others may need to be timed to preserve freshness and taste.
Navigating industry trends can take some effort, but it’s well worth meeting your clients’ expectations. With a bit of creativity, you can turn a standard menu into something special and unique for a winning event every time.