Everyone is a foodie these days! Take a few risks when it comes time to plan your next menu and cater to those who follow the hospitality scene's hot chefs and mixologists. Here are some catering menu ideas for your next meeting and event that bring creative culinary twists. Your attendees will be taking out their phones and snapping photos throughout the whole event with catering that goes from global cuisine and neighborhood themes, to interactive chef stations, to DIY cocktail stations.
Move Beyond Bland and Boring
Choosing between a plated meal or a buffet are no longer the only options planners have when putting together their food and beverage menus. Molly Brewe, executive chef at Limelight Catering, says red-hot restaurant trends have expanded to the event sphere.
Guests now want smaller plates, a wider selection of menu items and a more chef-focused experience. Brewe suggests rather than playing it safe, event organizers can now take risks, which participants expect.
"This day and age everybody is a self-described foodie," Brewe says. "So many people are interested in food and want to experience something interesting and different at an event.
Classic Cuisine, with a Modern Twist
According to Brewe, many menus now feature traditional dishes prepared in a new way and chefs are adding an "edgy" take on old favorites. She suggests switching up a protein like chicken or turkey with something more flavorful and unexpected, such as Peking-style duck or locally procured pork.
This concept can also apply to cocktails, as many mixologists are now adding either a smoky or spicy flavor to traditional cocktails, like using smoky mezcal or shaking things up with a picante margarita. Housemade bitters and specialty syrups also can elevate cocktails to a whole new level.
Put Chefs at the Center of the Action
Mobile serving stations give guests the opportunity to peruse and sample a variety of different foods. Brewe says attendees love chef-manned stations where they can watch their food being prepared and interact with the cook.
Attendees also enjoy one-of-a-kind serving stations, like a hot dog cart featuring specialty toppings; a Belgian frites stand serving up hot, fresh fries; a wheelbarrow-like table offering crudités; or an oyster prep area where chefs shuck on-site.
In Chicago, Brewe says a hot trend is stations that offer food from different neighborhoods, like Chinatown and Avondale.
Browse meeting and event suppliers in Chicago and search for catering services from top local companies like Limelight Catering, Blue Plate and Food For Thought.