1. Themed Rehearsal Dinner. Rather than just a regular plated meal where guests select either chicken or beef, many bride and grooms are requesting themed rehearsal dinners. Perhaps a Texas Barbeque theme with cornbread and brisket, with tables decorated with bandanas and cowboy hats. Or an authentic Indian meal in a room decorated with low tables covered in colorful tablecloths and pillows on the floor for seating. Read more about wedding basics for restaurants.
2. Small Foods. Mini Desserts. Cupcakes, mini wedding cakes, bit sized desserts are all hot trends for catered events. Even if you aren’t a baker, you can purchase delicate petit fours and other small desserts that are both good in quality and taste. Outside of dessert, one-bite appetizers, served up in edible containers or on elegant spoons are growing in popularity among event planners.
3. Street Foods. One of the hottest trends in catering is offering food inspired from the ethnic fusion of street food. From Mexican churros to Spanish tapas and Chinese dim sum, Middle Eastern kebabs, the more international a menu, the better.
4. Social Marketing. Visual sites like Facebook and Pinterest offer excellent marketing for a restaurant’s catering services. You can pin or post pictures of events that you have catered or that your restaurant has hosted. You can also post pictures of dishes and cocktails with recipe links to your website. Read more about social marketing and restaurants.
5. Family Style Dining. Also known as English Service, family style features bowls and platters of food to share at each table, versus individual plated meals. Olive Garden built its concept around family style dining.
6. Local & Organic Foods. Local foods convey health, better taste and offer good marketing potential on menus. Local foods extend beyond the produce section. Local also includes meat, poultry, seafood, baked goods, and even desserts. Along with local, organic menus are popular with couples, especially those who want their reception to be as green as possible.
7. Healthy Foods. Along with local and organic, there is a strong emphasis on healthier dining options. Coupled with a growing number of people with food allergies and it isn’t unusual to have healthier menu items requested, such as gluten or dairy free menus.
8. Food Stations. Rather than a buffet, this trend divides a menu up among stations, arranged throughout the dining room or event hall. Often the stations are comprised of an assortment of appetizers and other finger foods. Food stations are well suited for a cocktail reception, where people mingle casually about. Like a buffet, they can feed a large number or people at once, making it ideal for a wedding reception.
9. Liquid Nitrogen. Liquid Nitrogen has moved out of the high school chemistry class and into serious kitchens everywhere. Professional chefs and caterers use liquid nitrogen to make everything from ice cream in seconds, to popcorn, which when eaten, causes guests to breath out steam. This fun and interactive ingredient is a great idea for parties.
10. Tasting Menus. Just as the name implies, a tasting menu is made up of several small dishes that give guests a taste of everything. Usually billed as a prix fixe menu, a tasting menu can be used to showcase ingredients and house specialties, season local produce, or a select type of cuisine. You can turn a tasting dinner into a wine dinner, by pairing each course with a specific wine. Because guests are sampling several courses, these dinners tend to be long, making them better suited for evening events with a night dedicated to just dinner and conversation.