It wasn’t that many years ago that catering actually took a break in the summertime. Tradition dictated that events were planned for before Memorial Day and then again after Labor Day.
Like so many things in today’s world, catering is now a 52-week business. It’s not at all unusual to get invited to a Fourth of July or even a New Year’s eve wedding. So whether you are the food and beverage manager at a Manhattan hotel, or managing a Westchester country club or a Hampton’s hot spot, you need to be on top of your game 24/7. My definition of that is the ability to create signature concepts that reflect both your facility and of course the current season.
So let’s walk through the agenda for a typical event and talk about strategies to keep it fresh. The first step is to understand that the Cocktail hour is not- pre-dinner. It is a time to taste and visit with friends and family. So that means that the food should be more inventive to start conversations.
The same level of thought needs to go into the drinks that you serve. They should be “lite” flavorful, but not too alcoholic to avoid sloppiness. My suggestion is to offer drinks that are not so sweet, but more savory. Use herbs as garnish and base for the flavor. My new favorite thing is a blood orange floater with nutmeg and a larger ice-cube with can flavor. During the summer, there is nothing better than the special cocktail to be an infused water with garnish.
We have been working with our clients across the Metro New York City area to update their serving presentation for the cocktail hour. White platters are out in favor of a more organic- slate, marble, galvanized and wood etc. look.
We have customers finding their signature concepts with long bamboo skewers that are knotted and paddles from FOH that stick into melon or other fruit on the passed platter.
We also like the look of a single bite on forks that are plated face-up on containers of lentil, seeds or nuts. The goal is to create color and texture. The same feel can also be accomplished with leaves that are used as platters/dishes and even a small galvanized piece.
The idea is to avoid that Seinfeld/Curbed moment by keeping everything to one bite- a tasting without forcing you to juggle the drink that’s in your other hand.
In fact, if we take a quick fast forward to dessert, maybe desserts should be an assortment of small bites that would eliminate the over eating and waste that often comes with a traditional venetian table.
We are working with many of our catering clients to present the cocktail hour offering on a nice wood top serving counters with a lighter and airier feel.
Manufacturers including Mogogo, Forbes and Cal-Mil are offering higher tables- so you don’t hurt your back bending over or have a wardrobe malfunction. These taller tables also mean no need for ugly chafers. You can create a fresh new look with induction and still offer pass around for the delicacies for the look and portion control.
Our H. Weiss team is here to help with updating your catering service and share our experiences as you look to keep it fresh and create signature concepts for your customers.