A Plate Full of Trends
With the popularity of cooking programs on TV, celebrity chefs and newspaper and media pieces, the public is more educated and interested about their food.

The corporate meeting planner realizes that meeting attendees have become more sophisticated and expect the “wow” for any catered event, from small to large. The attendee or guest is driving the trend. A successful planner and caterer must follow the latest “in” foods and offer cutting-edge presentations and unique menus that invigorate the palate.

New trends seem to come to us from the west and east coast. Houston tends to be a bit traditional at times. When the mashed potato martini bar came to Houston (oven roasted garlic mashed potatoes, topped with sour cream, crumbled apple wood bacon, gruyere cheese, and scallions, served in a martini glass) it took time to convince the public, who are used to enjoying their mashed potatoes served on a plate, topped with gravy, to give it a try.

Trends are exciting and take us in a new direction, and here are some trends coming our way:

Going Green: Today’s consumers are seeking venues and menus that are green and environmentally friendly. People want to know that the food being served is grown organically and harvested locally.

Small is Better: Hors d’oeuvres, tapas, dim sum, and mini-desserts allow attendees to sample more than one item and favors more expensive and better tasting ingredients. Much of the hors d’oeuvre and dessert action happens at stations, with duo or trio tasting plates, martini glasses, shot glasses and dessert drinks.

Fusion: Blending cuisines remains a popular trend. This involves incorporating foods from different parts of the world, such as French, Indian, Southwest Asia, Thai and American cuisines.

Food/Beverage Tasting: Beer, wine, cheese, chocolate tastings and versions of the same food or beverage, have become very popular.

Edible Centerpieces: Wow your guests with great centerpieces made out of baskets of flatbreads, tortillas, pita, Indian puff-fry breads, breadsticks, olive bread, ciabatta and focaccia flat breads. This is very unique and cost-effective.

Ethnic and Latin American Cuisine: Caterers are offering a wide ethnic diversity in menus. The Latin American cuisine is on top of the list, combining the flavors of fish, meats, vegetables and fruits from South and Central America and the Caribbean.

Innovative Presentations: The request for extraordinary is the ordinary in a successful catering business. Today’s consumers expect unique menus and the newest and hottest innovations in buffets and action stations. Seated dinners have taken a back seat, while passed hors d’oeuvres and mini-meals served on a station or a buffet, and themed events have taken over. Cocktail parties are making a come back, giving the caterer greater flexibility and creative possibilities in food and beverage. This allows guests to mingle and network in a less formal atmosphere. Signature and seasonal cocktails and wine with dinner are evolving. Décor is equally following this trend and bringing back the lounge look. This involves comfort cushions, chaises, low tables and yes, even beds and daybeds.

It seems that once again the classics are the foundation for future trends.

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