Cutting-edge technology, unique venues, awe-inspiring decor, extraordinary light shows, and unusual networking setups are just some of the things we do to make our events stand out. Whether it’s the logistics, event layout, or program, we always tend to improve and try new things. This is what has kept the events industry moving and thriving.
However, how many times have you gathered the courage to go with something different when it comes to catering? Maybe your idea of “getting creative” was having a cocktail mixing session and a sushi chef at your last event. That’s already something, but it’s not exactly “innovative.” And it’s understandable. Sometimes experimenting with catering can backfire, which is why a lot of people decide to play it safe and go with the usual food options.
But as event professional Kevin Van der Straeten remarks, “The culinary aspects of an event play a large part in determining overall guest satisfaction. Eating has a direct influence on the perceived experience of the event. It therefore pays to give this important element of your programme the attention it deserves.”
A little bit of innovation will never harm anyone. In fact, it might spice up the attendee experience and catapult your event into a context for exploring new things. So if you’re brave enough, here are some of the things you can try when deciding the catering for your next event:
“I’m not eating insects. And my attendees won’t eat them, either,” I hear you saying desperately. Indeed, who would voluntarily eat insects? However, as strange as it might sound, insects are a great resource of protein and can be interesting and exotic catering alternatives.
You might be surprised to find out, for example, that there are protein bars made from cricket flour. Sounds crazy, right? But listen to something even crazier: Countries such as South Korea look to generate worldwide buzz for edible insects.
A simple trip to the market will provide you insights about the great variety of insects you can eat while visiting South Korea. And although it sounds weird and not all people will go for it, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t experiment with insects during your event.
Do you want to run a sustainable event? Then ditch the plastic plates and cutlery. As an alternative and fun twist, you can go for edible plates made from bran, which “consists of the outer layers of cereal grain, such as wheat, rye, or oat. It is a by-product in the process of milling grain.” They are environmentally friendly, and your guests are free to eat them. Isn’t that a great solution to your plastic problem?
There’s an entire variety of edible seaweed out there you might not be aware of. As the Michelin Guide highlights, “Edible seaweed is a vegetable of the sea, a food source for ocean life and humans who consume it in its many forms. Nutritionally speaking, seaweed has the unique ability to absorb concentrated amounts of iodine from the ocean which a human body cannot produce by itself, but requires for healthy thyroid functions. Seaweed is also an excellent source of micronutrients including folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and selenium.”
Mostly produced and consumed in countries such as Japan and Korea, seaweed can be an incredible addition to the catering, and open new taste bud experiences for your attendees.
Sounds fancy, yet the concept is very simple. According to an expert article, “When chefs deconstruct a dish, they present all of the key components of that dish at the same time, but not necessarily mixed together.”
Think about a deconstructed burger. Instead of having a piece of meat between a roll, your event chef may go for a burger on a plate with no roll, accompanied by some vegetables. This entire concept focuses on celebrating simplicity and on bringing awareness to the products we use to make food. In some cases, it might be interesting to surprise your guests with deconstructed food and offer them something well-known and presented in a totally different way.
Sami Tallberg is one of the most prominent chefs advocating the use of wild herbs in our food. Creating meals for different national and International events, he’s famous for rediscovering the taste and the properties of different wild herbs.
In his book, Tallberg describes some of the tasty recipes one can make using wild herbs, including new potatoes with ginger mint, ripe tomatoes with wild marjoram, salt and sugar-cured salmon with wild fennel, and caramelized rhubarb tart with rose petal ice cream.
From common dandelion to forest strawberries, there’s a great variety of options that might end up in the plate of your attendees. So if you want to provide a unique and healthy experience for your guests, wild herbs are the way to go.
Most cases, people are tired of seeing the same sodas and light alcoholic drinks at every event. For a change, make a list of local craft beers you can provide for your guests. This simple act will make the entire catering experience more interesting and richer.
Your attendees will be intrigued to try new tastes and get to know the local approach to crafting beers. In addition, you can agree with the brewery to provide rare or first beer releases. You’ll be supporting a small business while strengthening the collaboration between the local providers and your event brand.
Are you ready to shake things up?
What does it take to enhance the catering experience of your attendees? Most of the time, not as much as you might think. Elements such as edible plates or deconstructed food will make a long-lasting impression.
Insects, seaweed, wild herbs, and craft beers are just a handful of the innovative add-ons that will impress your guests. Obviously, you shouldn’t include all these ideas at the same time (that might overwhelm your attendees). Just pick one and build your entire catering experience around it. People will appreciate the novelty and enjoy it.