Shura Lindgren-Garnett, Regional Vice President, Global Spectrum
In today’s society, many people have become more educated about food by socializing during meals, attending client and business events where entertaining is part of the deal, participating in a multitude of available cooking classes or simply watching the Food Network. Food has become such a focus that there are vacation packages sold that allow travelers to cook their own meals every day.
This new interest in an age-old industry has forced food-service providers to overhaul the way we satisfy the needs of our guests and rightly so. Offering creative, out-of-the box selections that incorporate healthy, sustainable and bite-size elements has become an ongoing, yet enjoyable challenge.
Many meeting planners and event organizers create custom menus, which give the service provider a wider, more creative way to meet the clients’ needs specific to their group. Some clients demand custom menus for value, others for creativity and others to add a “wow” element to their event. No matter what motivates your selections, don’t be afraid to ask for a custom menu as opposed to selecting from a pre-established menu. Doing so allows both the planner and the caterer an opportunity to be creative and provide the unexpected delight that guests look for.
“Healthy” food also is important to people these days. We are still seeing requests for low carb, high protein and low fat items, but planners are now asking that caterers be more conscientious about serving reasonable portions, lowering sodium, lighting sauces and offering gluten-free selections. Heavy classical sauces have taken a back seat and lighter sauces that use pesto, herbs and reductions are very much alive. Lighter fare in general is far more popular than in past years.
Organic is always an option, but it tends to increase costs considerably and sometimes is ruled out as a result. People respond well to items that are locally grown and for the industry, it is a responsible approach to sustainability and local economies. When you meet with your banquet or event manager, don’t be afraid to go with a “chef’s or seasonal selection” for your vegetables. Doing so allows the chef to order and prepare items that are in season and are much fresher. Often these options can save you money.
Finally, bite-sized today isn’t relegated to shrimp cocktails, crostinis, and canapés. The new norm allows us to take those traditional comfort foods we grew up —meat loaf, chicken pot pie, grilled cheese with tomato soup, hamburgers, and hotdogs— and create bite-sized appetizers that still satisfy that taste for your mama’s home cooking.
Shura Lindgren-Garnett is regional vice president for Global Spectrum, a public assembly facility management company with more than 105 facilities internationally, including the United States, Canada, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The company hosts a variety of entertainment, sports, tradeshows, performing arts and other special events. Global Spectrum focuses on establishing partnerships with their venue owners and event organizers. Call 888-456-2599 or visit www.global-spectrum.com for more information.