Mark Field, Operations Director at the Victory Services Club, outlines his five event catering trends for 2018
1) Food provenance
The ‘Buying local’ trend has had a huge impact on grocery shopping with more and more consumers wanting to spend their money with local, smaller providers and to therefore know exactly where their food has come from. Caterers have realised this and have started to describe the origins of the food being served too - I saw dozens of ‘Norfolk’ turkeys on menus at Christmas.
We use local suppliers, fish smokeries and local butchers, but to me, it should go one step further. Catering and waiting staff should be educated and experienced in the food they are offering too.
A venue shouldn’t just order the food for staff to prepare. Staff should be taken out of the venue to the farms and the markets to experience it for themselves and get a real feel of its true provenance.
2) Smart menus
We saw this trend emerge as a result of the 2012 Olympics; there was an obvious focus on healthy eating and being fit. So, although not new, we will see an increase in the number of clients choosing smart menus for their events in 2018.
We offer our clients smart menus: fresh juices, and different types of naturally flavoured waters; fruit platters instead of pastries; high protein and low carb light lunches; decaf coffee and herbal teas etc. It’s been a slow burner with only a few clients choosing these options in the past, but in 2018 we will see more delegates asking for healthy options and therefore more organisers choosing venues who can cater for them.
3) The end of the buffet?
Some caterers are saying that the buffet is dead but I think it’s alive and well - just in need of an overhaul.
The ‘beige buffet’ should have died out a long time ago, but there is no reason why the buffet style of serving food should die.
The buffet offers a very convenient way of allowing lots of delegates to eat quickly. It gives them the choice to choose exactly what they would like to eat and in the quantities to suit them. But it should not be a static display; it is relatively easy to introduce some action or ‘theatre’ to the buffet table.
Bring in some height, some alternative and interesting presentation methods, and have a chef prepare a live option for delegates.
A buffet can look amazing if it is created with thought and flair.
4) Dietary Requirements
Whether for medical, health or a lifestyle choice, 2018 will see a further increase in the number of delegates with dietary requirements.
Event organisers need to be very aware of this, and venues need to be ever flexible and accommodating – we often have to cater for someone last minute because an organiser has not given us the information.
Having a great chef will really set venues apart in the year ahead – you need a chef that can create a gluten-free option that is very similar to the main course – and not just someone who presents the same one GF meal all the time.
5) Street Food
Bowl food is very popular still, but in 2018 we will see this move into a more ‘street food’ method of cooking, delivery and presentation.
Cooking stations placed around a conference room create amazing smells as the herbs and spices are freshly cooked before a delegate’s eyes. Delegates can wander from stall to stall choosing their food and experiencing the excitement and passion of the chefs.
We will be serving many cuisines in this way – including Vietnamese and Moroccan, not just the traditional Indian street food.