It doesn’t matter what type of event you are planning, the food is one of the most important considerations. Guests will generally always look forward to the catering and it is likely to be a talking point throughout the event.
Whether your event is a formal, black tie event or a casual get together of friends and family, find some of our ideas below to inspire you.
Sit down meal
One of the more formal options of catering, but if you are planning to arrange a sit down meal, here are a couple of considerations to make your event a little different to all of the others that you and your guests may have experienced in the past.
Canapes can be offered to guests on arrival instead of a sit down starter. This adds a certain element of sophistication whilst guests mingle and enjoy a drink. It will also shorten the time that guests will be seated at a table, so they can enjoy the other aspects of the event.
Family style service is where sharing bowls and platters are brought to the table and guests then help themselves to what they like, rather than a plated meal placed in front of them. For a starter you can offer antipasti, bread, pates, mini tarts, etc. For a main course, you can offer almost any option; pastas, curry, salads, meat, vegetables, rice dishes. Dessert can be an assortment of mini desserts, a fruit salad, cake or sweet tarts.
Roaming bowl food
For another option, rather than sitting at a table to eat, guests can stand and the food can be brought to them in the form of ‘bowl food’. This is usually a variety of smaller food options, which can be enjoyed with just a fork or spoon as guests stand and socialise. Think chilli and rice, thai style noodles, coq au vin and mashed potatoes, brisket of beef, risotto, hearty soup, curry and rice, etc. These would usually be served as starter size so that guests can enjoy more than one if they wish.
Street food vans
A great option that can provide variety to your event is to book one or more food vans to attend the event. We would only recommend this if you have a large event, but it has been known for smaller events and weddings to have this instead of a sit down meal.
You can find a lot of different roaming caterers who can attend events, so it needn’t be the usual suspects of fish and chips, burgers and hot dogs, pizza; although these are usually very popular options.
You can have Caribbean catering, curries and Indian street food, paella, falafel and Greek meze options, fajitas and burritos, jacket potatoes with different fillings… to name a few!
You can also arrange for ice cream vans or hot dessert trucks to attend events. There are many caterers who can provide pop corn, candy floss, churros, crepes and other delicious sweet treats to offer to guests as additional snack items.
A buffet is one of the popular options for any event, but there are so many ways to make this more exciting than a plate of sausage rolls, a platter of sandwiches and some vol-au-vents!
The benefit of serving buffet style is that not all guests have to eat at the same time and they can pick and choose what they fancy at the time. They can even have second helpings if there is some left after everyone has been served.
You can provide a hot fork buffet to guests with a couple of different options, which they can choose from… pasta dishes, curry and rice, stroganoff, stew; almost any hot dish that you want is possible to serve in large dishes or consider using chafing dishes to keep the food hot. Add some vegetables and potatoes, pasta or rice on the side and guests will be happy that they can pick and choose as they fancy on the day or night.
Add in some luxurious hot items to any standard cold buffet, to make it feel more of a treat. Tempura prawns, duck or vegetable spring rolls, chicken skewers, cheese bites, mini pizzas, etc. You can find a lot of options in the shops or any caterer will happily take this off your hands.
A really popular choice at the moment is a grazing board or table. This is usually all cold items which can be set out prior to guests arriving and then remains for guests to help themselves to at their leisure throughout the event.
Popular items include a variety of cheeses and crackers, cured meats, savoury pastries, fresh and dried fruits, breads and breadsticks, nuts and savoury pretzels.
You can even add on platters of fruit or mini sweet treats to include dessert.
Sweetie tables and snack bowls
If you are not formally catering, you may want to include a little bit of light food for guests throughout your event, just in case they get peckish.
Consider some bowl of savoury snacks such as pretzels, nuts, crisps and olives. You can get some really lovely artisan snack food in every supermarket. Don’t forget to put out napkins so guests can keep clean and also remember to check if any guests have allergies (as you may want to steer clear of nuts if they do!).
For something sweet, how about setting up a sweetie table with a variety of pick ‘n’ mix style sweets? Include some paper bags, scoops/tongs and your guests will be happy as children throughout the event.