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Let’s talk about your Food and Beverage.

For some planners (and their guests), the success of an entire event is wrapped around food experiences like a bacon-wrapped rumaki — its either love at first bite or the critics’ delight. Planners and caterers agree that picking the right food and beverage (F&B) for events can be a tightrope dotted with slippery questions:  How much to prepare? What will appease every appetite? and How does this balance with the budget? Fortunately, our in-house catering pros have a satisfying palate of planning tips to help create enjoyable dining experiences.

Food Quality over Quantity:

Like most things, food trends are influenced by social and economic shifts. People are smarter and more adventurous about food choices. Menus are increasingly adaptable to vegetarian, vegan, or alternative diets. That means menus may likely include more ancient grains, like quinoa, tossed into a mix of fresh vegetables and traditional or alternative proteins. Along with plant-based proteins, fermented foods are showing up more frequently, as are dishes that cater to and promote locally grown ingredients.

Venues are increasingly under scrutiny to provide zero-waste or more sustainable options — both trends that are likely to be the new norm. For chefs and planners, both need to consider meal plans that help meet these criteria. Similarly, the shift may trigger the need to focus on in-season produce — switching from summertime berries to winter season fruit compotes or preserved fruits, for example.

To help save money and wasted food, planners are considering reducing or even skipping the smorgasbord buffet for meeting breaks to create more thoughtful and meaningful lunches and dinners. Dietary preferences, religious limitations, or food allergies may be contributing factors in making this call, a response to attendees’ conscious decisions to cut added calories and the organization’s need to watch its food budget.

Attendees look for “Wow!” factors as a part of their conference experience. With food and all of the aforementioned trends, presentation is definitely a contributor. Think food displays beyond the traditional table set, even pairing the caterer with the decorator … or fusion cuisine like Korean tacos or CBD-infused foods or veggie-focused Mediterranean-style dishes. Ultimately, everything is about creating a unique, enjoyable experience.

All this said, we offer one clear observation about trending food-consciousness, dietary options, and catering to sensitivities:  all diets bow to dessert! (That’s okay. We like our desserts, too!)

Beverages:

From cocktails to carbonated waters, the F&B trends continue to pour in. For events serving alcohol, specialty cocktails area always a hit, particularly if a group wants a “signature cocktail” to help engage attendees (makes them feel special). But not all cocktails need to be top shelf. Canned cocktails, once snubbed as cheap drink alternatives, have become an encouraged player, especially for calculating a consumption-based tab.

Like locally grown foods, beers and hard ciders from microbreweries and products from smaller, lesser-known wineries can lend a select, special vibe to a reception or dinner. Sparkling flavored waters and naturally essenced water stations, such as citrus-, cucumber-, or basil-enhanced water, remain in high demand as an affordable, simple but unique option.

Then, of course, there are mocktails. Whether for health or religious or other reasons, non-alcoholic beverage options are on the rise. In fact, a recent online study shows that non-alcoholic beverage sales jumped 315%, and reportedly, nearly a third of adults are not drinking alcohol.

For event planners, there’s an increasing need to provide a more inclusive drinking environment — one that allows cocktails and mocktails to share the bar. Doing so mirrors food trends that promote thoughtful inclusivity, sustainability, and responsibility for all attendees, and that makes every event more enjoyable and memorable. 

 

Our caterer, event planners and guest experience managers have a full platter of F&B expertise and creative ideas to share with clients. Our mantra at the core for every event hosted at Grand Wayne Convention Center is to “Make Good Memories.”  It’s what we do, and we’re award-winning good at helping event planners keep their attendees engaged and enjoying their stay in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana.

 

Let’s talk about how we can help you create an amazing event. Contact one of our Sales Managers and tell us about your event!