Three catering styles to get familiar with

With the return to in-person events slowly pushing forward, as an event planner you may be wondering what your options are for feeding your guests in a post-COVID world. Below, we’re sharing our three favourite ways to serve and present food, and some dishes that work well with each style right off the catering menu of our on-campus caterer, The Last Class. Get your stretchy pants on and dig in!

Boxed meals

A staple for conferences with working lunches or summer camps that want a grab-and-go option, boxed meals prove to be a great COVID-safe option. With each meal being individually contained, it’s easy for guests to take their meals and social distance while they eat. As always, there should be a focus on keeping your event green wherever possible, so try to source compostable or recyclable packaging, or if budget and size of your event allows, even reusable containers!

a tray of falafel wraps

What to eat:

You can box up just about anything, but for the most part you’re going to want to stick with foods that are a little more shelf stable and that you don’t have to keep hot. Our recommendation would be a big sandwich or wrap like The Last Class’s veggie “medi” wrap with falafels and a hearty salad such as the Cajun broccoli and cheddar salad. These dishes are not only delicious and nutritious, but an elevated option that most guests wouldn’t think of when you say “boxed lunch”.

Full-service buffets

When COVID first began, we thought buffets would be gone forever. In reality, buffets are still a totally viable style of food service, they just look a little different now. A full-service buffet means more staff present to keep things clean. They’ll be the ones serving your guests as they come through the line, limiting the number of hands touching the spoons and tongs that serve the food. Less touching of surfaces means cleaner hands for everyone! These buffets can also feature clear partitions between the staff, food and guests to reduce possible airborne contaminants.

What to eat:

Buffets are great because they makes it easier to provide multiple options for guests to make sure everyone has something they like. One of our personal favourites for a buffet is the grilled chicken, penne primavera and salad. With each component served separately, vegetarian guests can opt out of the chicken (or replace it with tofu or falafel), and guests with a gluten intolerance can opt out of the pasta, or the conference organizer can even request a gluten-free starch. No one goes home hungry with this tasty meal!

a garden salad

Plated meals

The style of catering that will have changed the least once we return to events will be plated service. It already provides the least amount of contact between guests and each other’s food, with no sharing of utensils and less opportunity for airborne contaminations. You will probably see serving staff wearing masks and gloves, but those are becoming ubiquitous in service. Since this style of service hasn’t changed very much, this will also leave your guests with a sense of familiarity, not to mention make them feel pampered!

What to eat:

For plated service, you’re likely to have at least three courses to plan. We recommend starting with a crisp garden salad, followed by oven roasted prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Finish up the meal with a slice of chocolate torte, and you’ve got yourself a plating your guests will talk about for years to come.

We can’t wait to start providing all three of these catering services to our guests as soon as it’s safe to do so. If you’re looking at a 2022 event, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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