Specialty food and beverage options at events are becoming more and more popular. Dietary restrictions, food competition shows, and beverage pop ups have raised expectations for what’s offered at events, but many planners and chefs have accepted this challenge and incorporated it into the overall event design.
Peter Haycroft, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre’s head chef, has revolutionized the buffet format. MCEC’s new form of interactive catering, called “Eat Stations,” allow guests to visit multiple themes and genres of food and drink within one event, including dumpling bars, Bloody Mary stations, and a charcuterie stand. Each stall features a chef on hand to greet guests and answer questions, and custom digital signage and décor. Haycroft’s Eat Stations respond to the latest trend of customization, where patrons can build meals to their preference.
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre’s executive chef, David Pugh, has made dietary requirements the centre of his attentions. In 2017, Pugh implemented a specialized dietary kitchen to ensure that all guests, with any dietary restriction, could enjoy their meal without worry. With dietary trends like veganism and keto so popular, as well as considerations for allergies and intolerances, the risk of serving the wrong dish is high. Pugh’s team thoroughly checks the dietary requirements of all even guests, and has even implemented a colour-coded plate system to easily identify the type of meal.
Following the same trend, David Martin, the executive chef at Victoria’s RAV Healesville Country Club, separates requests into three categories – those pertaining to allergies, food intolerances, and lifestyle choices. To give guests as much information as possible to feel comfortable when selecting a meal option, Martin provides different menus that accommodate their dietary category.
The use of local produce is one trend that many event planners and chefs throughout Australia have been leaning into. Not only does the availability of certain items, what is or isn’t in season, have a huge impact on an event’s menu, but more and more event attendees are questioning where their food is coming from. Not only does this benefit the local economy and is more environmentally friendly, but farm to table is another popular trend that event planners can take advantage of.
Food and beverage choice and presentation doesn’t have to be an afterthought for an event – it can be another interesting and memorable part of a great event. Food trends at successful events have demonstrated that guests are now more interested in personalization and customization, and presenting meals with flair never goes out of style.
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