8 ways to serve your guests a brilliant buffet.
The term buffet originally referred to the French sideboard furniture where the food was served and over the years has made its way as a format to many of our wedding, networking and party events. Buffets can be an exciting way to get creative with your dishes, they can be a great way to ensure large and small guest numbers enjoy a variety of foods and feel satisfied and they can also be a great way to save money on your wedding or event when you need to stretch your budget.
So we’ve put together a quick and easy list of 8 ways we think you can make your buffet brilliant. This is taken from our immediate experiences of catering at weddings, corporate events and parties as well as from the tales we’ve been told from others’ ‘buffet nightmares’!
1. Sort out the buffet queue.
Long queues of people peering down the line wondering if there’ll be anything left by the time it’s their turn is not a great sight at any event. A real easy way fix this is:
1. Create two or more buffet stations so you can at least halve the queue.
2. Get your catering staff to walk amongst tables (or standing guests) with plates and selections of food so that your guests who don’t enjoy queuing (some of us don’t) can easily help themselves and further reduce the queue.
2. Take egg mayo sandwiches off the menu.
It’s not just what you add to your buffet but also what you take away. We’d recommend cut back on your sandwiches, particularly using bread. They can look tired so quickly and often there is the odd guest guilty of destroying the sandwich display trying to unearth the one they wanted from the stack! Switch bread for wraps or pitta bread with delicious fillings. They can look so much more interesting and appetising and can keep their form far better than their feeble slices of triangulated bread sandwich cousins!
3. Have things ready for guests in portion sizes.
A common buffet disaster can be when guests have to slice their own piece of quiche, or what started off as a great interactive idea of guests carving their own slice of ham turns into carnage! Cut down queuing time and keep your display looking fresh (whilst taking away the self-serve pressure from your guests) and try and portion as much of the buffet as possible. Your guests will thank you for making the whole process easier and you’ll also be able to keep tighter control of your portion numbers and costs
4. Have your catering team check on the condiments.
Typically when your guests get to the end of the buffet section they can find themselves with a colourful selection of condiments to splash on their plate – everything from mustards and ketchups to pickles and chilli dips. Again these can be rather exciting for your guests, but as soon as half a dozen guests have helped themselves to what started off as a neat and controlled sauces section they can often look like Monet’s painting pallet!
5. Keep the dishes for those with dietary needs separate
For your guests that have dietary needs there can be nothing more frustrating when they find that guests before them have taken most of their vegan, gluten free or vegetarian options leaving them with little else but salad. To help your guests out, firstly have your food selections labelled and secondly keep your specific options for those with dietary needs separate. Often, your other guests will respectfully steer clear or consciously help themselves to fewer selective portions so that everyone enjoys your buffet.
6. Surprise your guests
Think buffet and I bet that chicken legs, ham sandwiches, sausage rolls, pork pies and quiche will
be on your list of expected dishes. So to make your buffet brilliant offer something unexpected. Food is a great talking point for guests and certainly one of the things your guests will remember about your event, so try out new things. Try lemon, honey and thyme marinated chicken or fresh water prawns and lemon mayonnaise as well as delicious roasted Mediterranean vegetable parcels to get you started.
7. Include a small selection of interesting drinks
Your guests are far more likely to feel experimental with a buffet as there is a variety of choices in small portions, so there’s a great opportunity to introduce some new and interesting drinks also. Whether these are alcohol free or exciting cocktails think about trying locally sourced cordials or perhaps some craft beers and ciders from a local brewery. Introducing new experiences, tastes and brands will definitely win you brilliant buffet points!
8. Don’t have all of your food out in one go.
Quite often a typical buffet can look like a desolate waste area after a handful of people have helped themselves and emptied the plate of sandwiches and bowl of pickles! A real easy way to keep your buffet looking fresh for all of your guests is to keep the amount of food on the table down to serve 25% of your guests at a time (particularly for large events). You can then ask your catering team to renew and refresh your buffet throughout the time your guests are eating.
For more inspiring ideas for your buffet whatever the occasion, take a look at our Artisan Buffet menu or get in touch and we can create something special and unique tailored to your event.