If there’s one thing guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on meeting attendees, it’s the quality and creativity of the food.
Today, many caterers are taking their service to the next level by turning meal functions into an experience, from arranging food in colorful displays to showcasing unique local products. Others are expanding their menus to accommodate a wider range of dietary and health concerns.
For more ideas on creative catering approaches, we spoke with culinary experts from the Owensboro Convention Center in Owensboro, Kentucky, who pride themselves on delivering innovative recipes and presentations. Here is what they had to say.
Exhibit Local Products
Every destination has its own unique culinary scene. When groups travel to different parts of the country for corporate events, they usually appreciate the opportunity to sample regional cuisine and support local businesses. The executive chef at the Owensboro Convention Center, Jared “Buddy” McCarter, said that his out-of-state guests almost always request original Kentucky foods at their conferences or events. However, instead of simply replicating traditional recipes, the culinary team partners with some of the most distinguished businesses in the state to create locally inspired cuisine with top-grade ingredients.
“It’s actually a lot of fun to take those regular items and turn them into something different,” said McCarter. “You just have to give yourself the leeway to be creative.”
Instead of featuring the typical cheese and cracker arrangement, the convention center often brings in artisan cheeses like Smoked Kentucky Bleu or Fromage Blanc from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheeses, one of Kentucky’s most well-known dairy farms. McCarter and his team have also worked extensively with Misty Meadow Winery, an award-winning local winery that specializes in wines fermented from blackberries, peaches, apples and other fruits.
“Trying fruit wines opens up peoples’ palettes, since they often don’t expect them to taste as good as grape wines,” said McCarter.
In addition to showcasing unique local products, the chefs make a point of putting their own creative spin on each dish, such as using double-smoked ham and other specialty meats from Kentucky Legend to produce mouthwatering fare like bourbon-candied bacon or griddle cakes with smoked ham and peach chutney.