There are a lot of aspects that go into providing a successful catering event. From displaying foods, setting up place settings, the equipment needed, and what staff should wear, caterers should have standard practices to give consumers confidence in the services they will receive. Let’s review key areas to be prepared with catering displays, a knowledgeable staff, and more.
Buffet Presentation and Catering Displays
Set – Up
Setting up a buffet requires proper planning to ensure safe food temperatures and quick service. It is important to provide a buffet that is clean and easy to service. Follow these few tips for the best catering display and overall outcome possible when setting up your buffet for clients.
1. Vary Height
Your catering displays reflect your business. Put dishes at varying height creating dimension that is appealing to the eye and also creating more space for dishes. Additionally, be sure to elevate less messy dishes to avoid spills.
2. Have A Clear Flow
Help guests clearly know where to start getting their food to prevent traffic jams. If there is a large group, it is best to allow guests to go along either side of the table. At the beginning of the buffet, include all plates and at the end, have utensils so that guests are not fumbling while filling their plates.
3. Keep It Clean
Avoid a mess on the buffet table but placing small plates near each dish to provide a place for guests to place serving utensils. Also, it is a great idea to do this under beverage dispensers to catch drips.
4. Name the Dish
In a world with increased dietary restrictions and allergies, it is extremely important to provide tags that identify the dish as well as any important ingredients. Include known potential issues such as peanuts, milk, eggs, etc.
5. Strategic Layout
How tables are positioned is very important. Be sure that the layout avoids overcrowding, allows easy use for those with disabilities, and provides quick access for servers to refill the table.
Once the tables are positioned well, the layout on the table can be determined. A great way to visualize the set-up is to stage the layout with empty bowls and dishes before adding food.
6. Fill in Display Gaps
With the serving dishes in place, you can make the table more visually appealing. Utilize in season and event appropriate décor to fill gaps. A few ideas include faux foliage, unscented candles, vases, and more.
7. Keep it full
Be sure to keep serving dishes full throughout the time of service to ensure happy guests. They are excited to eat your food – allow everyone to get some of what they want!
The table set-up will vary based on the type of event that is being catered. Is the event a self-serve buffet? A casual lunch? A formal three-course meal dinner? Reference the below for proper set-up of place settings.
*All place setting charts are resources from RealSimple.com
Staff working at the catered event should always act professionally. We recommend that all staff have cohesive attire – a black buttoned shirt and black pants are a great option. Additionally, staff should be prepped beforehand with knowledge on the menu, potential allergens, and how to properly refill foods. Having a professional, cohesive, knowledgeable staff goes a long way in giving guests confidence in your food and services.
A lot goes into creating the best possible catered buffet. It is essential to have proper equipment and supplies to keep food at safe temperatures with a professional presentation. Quickly see all of the equipment and supplies that you need for a fantastic catering event:
- Holding and Warming equipment
- Chafing dishes
- Serving dishes
- Serving utensils
- See all catering equipment and buffet equipment
Looking to start your own catering business? We can help!
Hope has been a Content Specialist since November 2015, where she brings to the table years of experience in the food service industry in a variety of roles. Throughout her time with Central, Hope has focused on learning all things possible about everything from cooking equipment to concession and specialty products in order to empower operators with education on commercial equipment and supplies. Hope is a wife, new mom, avid crafter, and food lover (french fries please!).