The top four trends in catering

Food is a source of endless fascination, with YouTube, Instagram and television full of special dishes and recipes. This trend is also reflected in the way catering has become a crucial aspect of all events, with visitors now more discerning than ever. So what can you do to positively surprise your guests?

Get people moving
At exhibitions and corporate events, where the experience is very important, food and drink often play a key role. Food cannot be an afterthought to the programme – it should be part and parcel of the meeting. You can also use food to get people moving. At a recent event in RAI Amsterdam, the distribution points were placed between the poster sessions. On another occasion we placed several ‘food stations’ throughout the space. Look for ways to arrange something like this and you might be surprised what happens. A clever setup is more dynamic and can lead to dynamic meetings.

Different is normal
There was a time when you could get away with a small table of vegetarian options and one separate meal for the person with a gluten allergy. This will no longer suffice. There are a range of allergies and preferences which you need to take into account: vegetarian, vegan, raw, gluten-free and lactose-free to mention a few. Moreover, an increasingly international public means even more preferences linked to religion or culture.

Fortunately, there are also more and more options to cater to this broad spectrum of needs. We no longer consider such alternatives to be an accommodation, but part of our normal range. We simply indicate the characteristics of the food and drink and let people conveniently choose for themselves. This comes across as attentive, which people greatly appreciate.

At conferences with a lot of options, you can even choose to have an ‘à la minute’ cook standing ready to help anyone who might have very rare needs. Does this make an impression? You bet!

Time for athenticity
The ‘exotic’ food that our parents would occasionally taste, was very much adapted to western taste.

Now that the average westerner is used to travelling more and tasting real local food all over the world, they expect the real tastes that they have experienced there.

We are therefore looking for less familiar and more authentic dishes: potato gnocchi with aubergine instead of pasta bolognese; or noodle soup with squid instead of Thai red curry with chicken. You can be as modest or as experimental as you like, depending on your target group. The important thing is to not fake it: don’t take authentic dishes and make them blander to adapt them to Western tastes – instead, choose authentic dishes that hit the spot as they are. Don’t just put up Thai decor, but serve the food in the right kind of bowls. Make it feel real.

Instagramming – different than you might think
Photographing food is all the rage nowadays and serving good food will get your event extra attention on social media. Of course, presenting 'instagrammable' food should not be an end in itself. In fact, you cannot force this as the most common shared photographs are not about frills or luxuries: people take snaps of things that move them. But this could be a surprisingly authentic dish – or simply a thick sandwich with really good cheese. One becomes ‘instafamous’ by serving food created with love and care.

Paying attention
The main thing all these trends have in common is that they are about genuine attention and authenticity. Decide what you wish to achieve and realise that catering can play an important role therein. Be inspired, take a good look around you and challenge your caterer. Anything is possible!

Rientz Mulder

Rientz Mulder

Facebook@Basement Chefs | Executive Chef | Food | Basement Chefs | Hospitality | CSR | Heartwarming Amsterdam

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