Catering Options for Small Weddings are Abundant!

If you have a wedding scheduled to take place during the remainder of 2020, there’s a good chance you’ve had to alter your plans.

During this time of pandemic restrictions, some couples have decided to put their marriage plans on the back burner for now while others are simply going ahead with a simple backyard ceremony for two, waiting until a later date to throw a big party and celebrate.

However, many couples are simply reducing the size of their party plans according to local restrictions and opting for a small, intimate affair that will allow them to get on with their lives while still enjoying a day that is special and memorable. A small wedding, even at this strange and often surreal time, can create lifelong memories for the couple and their families and can provide a welcome respite for the attendees in a world that has become wrought with changes and cancellations.

Those who opt for a smaller celebration will no doubt need to make changes to their guest list and maybe even to the location of the wedding ceremony and reception/dinner, but they can still provide their guests with an amazing catered party complete with delectable food that will taste delicious and leave their guests oohing and aahing when it’s over.

A smaller guest list provides more flexibility

When you host a large wedding, catering options must be able to accommodate large numbers of people. As such, the selections tend to be fewer. While the meal can still be creative, serving 200 comes with many more limitations than preparing a meal for perhaps 10-20 guests.

It’s quite easy, for example, to do an elaborate sit-down meal for your small guest list, whether it be brunch, lunch, or an opulent dinner. Your caterer can work with you to formulate a meal that will have your guests licking their lips and waiting eagerly for the next course, all served at a beautifully set table that matches your theme and colors.

If you want to go a little bit less formal, your caterer might suggest an outdoor picnic-type meal with your favorite grilled meats, summer salads, and more. Picnic meals are fun and light-hearted and truly speak of summer, ideal for an outdoor gathering, which is the most logical choice for weddings as we still worry about the spread of Covid-19.

If you prefer to maintain some degree of physical distancing, however, you may decide that a sit-down dinner or even a buffet or picnic is simply not the right thing at this time. For this reason, you might dispense with tables and seating and instead choose options such as hors d’oeuvres stations or perhaps a simple cocktail party with small bites and desserts on tables set up apart from each other in an outdoor space. These seem to be working well for wedding couples and their guests these days because some people are uncomfortable sitting down to enjoy a meal with others who are not from their household.

Before you call your caterer to make changes or to set up something new, don’t hesitate to talk to your guests first. Explain your plans and ask them what makes them comfortable in such a setting. You may find that some guests will opt not to attend because of health risks or you may discover that they are a little more flexible than you had thought.

Everyone is at a different degree of comfort with the virus still in our midst, so you will likely have to plan according to the level of comfort of those whom you really want to have present for your special day. For example, you may need to avoid scenarios where people share dishes and serving utensils in favor of individually-packaged meals for each guest, which many caterers are doing these days.

Truly, with the right caterer, the possibilities are endless.

Discussing options with your caterer

Once you’ve determined what’s going to work best for you and your guests, take your ideas to your caterer and let him/her brainstorm with you to come up with the best solutions for your small wedding.

Remember, the main goal is to keep the spirit of the day upbeat and happy and to reduce the fear many individuals have about gathering in groups, even small ones. Though it’s likely that a 2020 wedding will be one to be talked about for years to come – “Remember when Joe and Jill got married during the pandemic?” – you still want the emphasis to be directed away from Covid and towards the joy of this special day.

 

For more ideas about catering for small weddings during Covid-19, talk to our attentive and caring staff at Catering Visions by calling 604-657-8373.

 

Providing Catering Options for Guests with Dietary Restrictions

When you gather together a group of individuals to enjoy a meal – be it a posh wedding, a large company event, or even a simple intimate dinner – you’ll likely find that there are at least a few people in the crowd who either chose not to eat or cannot eat the foods that many of us see as traditional offerings for certain events, such as hamburgers or hot dogs for picnics or pasta for your Italian-themed party.

Indeed, it seems that there are more people than ever with dietary restrictions. That’s okay. This means that people are tuned into their bodies and what’s best for them as well as what could potentially do them harm.

It also means that when it’s your turn to be a host – be it a large soiree or a small get-together – you should be aware of the most common types of special diets and whether or not you’ll need to make some adjustments to accommodate guests who are following any sort of dietary restrictions.

These might include:

  • Gluten-free
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Dairy-free
  • Peanut or tree nut allergies
  • Fish and shellfish allergies
  • Kosher
  • Halal

Don’t forget to ask!

There’s nothing more embarrassing than having a event guest who can’t eat any of the food you’re serving! So, that’s why it’s always a good idea to ask in advance whether any of your guests has dietary restrictions of any sort. Even with a large corporate party or wedding reception, it’s acceptable to ask attendees about special diets and – certainly – if you’re having a small dinner party catered, you’ll want to know as well.

Asking these questions up front will provide you with the opportunity to discuss any dietary issues with your caterer and to plan appropriately for those who might need other options from the ones you’ve chosen.

How accommodating must you be?

Remember, there is a difference between individuals who are living a certain lifestyle out of choice or necessity and those who might be on “a diet”. While you certainly want to offer gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free or vegetarian options for those who must avoid or choose to avoid certain foods, you aren’t required to cater to the needs of your aunt who’s on “the grapefruit diet” or your best friend who’s trying the ketogenic diet for the fourth time.

That’s not condescending, it’s just the realties of a catered event. It’s nearly impossible to accommodate the needs of every South Beach, Atkins, or Paleo dieter, but you can try to offer as many options as possible.

On the other hand, some dietary restrictions are quite serious. If, for example, you have a guest that has a really severe peanut allergy – the kind that is triggered by even the slightest exposure to peanuts – you may want to leave anything containing peanuts off the menu.

And don’t forget about beverages. You might need decaf coffee for those who don’t drink caffeine and plenty of non-alcoholic options for those who don’t or can’t drink alcohol.

Discussing options with your caterer

So, what’s the best way to accommodate your guests who have dietary differences? How can you make them feel comfortable about what they’re eating while not feeling singled out?

If you’re doing a buffet meal, it’s pretty easy. Talk to your caterer about including selections that will meet the needs of all your guests. You can choose to have a smaller tray of a particular gluten-free item, for example, or can make sure you have plenty of vegetables to accommodate a number of different diets. Your caterer will make sure everything is labeled appropriately. Surprisingly, you may find that others who didn’t mention restrictions will opt for the gluten-free or vegan option, for example, simply because it looks appealing.

If you’re having a sit-down meal, your caterer will need to know well in advance if he/she needs to prepare a plate for someone with a specific allergy. Be sure when you organize place cards for seating that there is something on the card that indicates the restriction so that servers know who gets what. A caterer who is experienced in dealing with food allergies or restrictions can make tasty recommendations for substitutions and prepare a plate that is both attractive and delicious for your guest(s).

Remember, the adage “you can’t please everyone” might apply here, but with a caterer who is creative and willing to think out of the box can come up with a menu that allows everyone to eat comfortably and safely.

Team-building Staff Lunches Offer Great Food and Camaraderie

In recent years, companies large and small have become more in tune with “team building”, offering activities and events that help employees bond with one another with the notion that when teams are strengthened, work is done more efficiently and collaboration happens more easily.

Indeed, experts find that socializing and creating friendships in the workplace can be one of the best ways to increase productivity as well as improve office morale. Communication improves as well, which allows individuals to better work together not only on team projects but in general.

If you’re a business owner or manager, perhaps you’ve come up with some creative ideas for team building, like a painting night or perhaps an outing to a local sporting event. Those are great, but we often ignore the most obvious opportunity to spend time together. Eating! Breaking bread together has long been a way to garner and nurture friendship and collaboration, and events such as staff lunches can be a fun, inexpensive, and easy-to-organize team-building event for small or large groups within your company.

Taking the time for a team lunch

Many employers might question whether or not taking 1, 2, or even 3 hours out of a productive day to eat lunch together is actually worth the time. After all, wouldn’t each member of the team get more done at their desk or on the phone or internet? So, why take this time to just eat and talk?

Well, we say “why not?”. Chances are this isn’t something you’ll day every week or even each month, but there are a number of reasons why hosting a staff lunch could be beneficial.

  • As a reward – Perhaps your company is experiencing a surge of business and you want to thank your team or teams for their help in making this happen. Providing them with food and a place to share it together is ideal for this purpose.
  • As a kick-off – Maybe you’re starting a new project that you’re super-excited about and want to share that spark with your team. Then set up a kick-off luncheon with your staff to talk about the project and to spread the excitement about it. This also creates company pride, which is always a good thing!
  • To get to know one another – If you’re staff has little reason to collaborate on projects, chances are many of them simply don’t know each other. Change that! Provide a lunch and encourage employees not to talk about work but about themselves and give them a task that allows them to get to know one another. Consider including an ice-breaker game or other activity that encourages them to offer some personal info about themselves.
  • To build morale – Maybe there’s been a slump in your industry or something else that’s caused a decline in morale. If so, offering a free meal along with some encouraging words to boost the overall mood of your staff could be in order. Keep it upbeat and include a simple menu if you’re worried about cost.

Planning a team-building staff lunch

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and organize a lunch for your team. Whether you’re celebrating a victory, anticipating one, or rebuilding confidence and enthusiasm, this meal will no doubt be a welcome treat for your staff.

Now, what do you need to do to organize it?

  • Choose a date – Locate a date that’s ideal for your team and make a big deal about advertising the lunch. Give them plenty of advance warning so that each member of the staff can make sure they are present, including those that are sometimes working on the road or from home.
  • Hire a caterer – You want to do this right and ordering sandwiches from the local deli just won’t cut it. Instead, talk to a reliable local caterer who is adept at cooking for groups with a variety of tastes. A caterer can craft a menu that meets your budget needs while also offering a meal that’s a true treat for your team. And when you hire a caterer, you can sit back and let someone else do all the work!
  • Choose a location – If you have a team meeting room or a regular lunch area, you can certainly have your lunch there. However, if you want to do something a little different, take it outside your company location for a true disconnect from the work day. If the weather is lovely, consider an outdoor picnic and let your staff enjoy some midday sunshine!
  • Craft a menu – Work with your caterer to come up with a fun and tasty menu that’ll have your staff oohing and aahing as they return to their desks. This could be anything from traditional lunch fare, like soup and sandwiches, to a hot lunch with a choice of entrees, to the aforementioned barbecue, which can range from hot dogs and burgers to salmon and steak, depending on your budget. You might even consider a “themed” lunch if there’s something in particular you’d like to focus on, such as building a new location in a different country.

At Catering Visions, we’ve served team-building lunches for 30 and for 3,000! Whether your team is large or small, we’re eager to help your Vancouver-area business create an event that will bring your staff together for an afternoon of good eats and great company. For more information, call us at 604-657-8373 and speak to our chef.

 

Making Finger Foods a Meal at Your Next Catered Party

Who doesn’t love eating with their hands? From the joy of eating small bits of food from the tray of your highchair as a baby to the indulgence of devouring a few hot dogs as you watch your favorite team play, finger food is fun and carefree. So, why not include finger foods at your next party?

There are all sorts of things you can do with finger foods. Most party throwers use finger foods as appetizers because these tiny bits of food are both easy to serve and easy to eat. They can be displayed family-style on a table or can be served by strolling waiters who meander through the crowd. In general, guests love appetizers and often eat way more than they intended, leaving little room for the main meal.

So, why not consider a party that consists of a menu made up entirely of finger foods? It’s a wonderful alternative to the rather formal sit-down dinner and is ideal when you have limited space or time or are on a tight party budget. Furthermore, a finger food menu gives your caterer the opportunity to be super-creative because he or she is not constricted by the rules of a “normal” dinner party.

Include a variety of options

You may have grown up with finger foods that are pretty run-of-the-mill, but there are so many options that are quite sophisticated as well, so your party can really be anything you want it to be, from very informal to quite posh. Consider, however, including a variety of options.

  • Healthy appetizers – Just as you might start a sit-down dinner with a salad, think veggies and fruit to get the party started. Include a first round of finger foods that include raw or cooked veggies, like a tomato bruschetta, edamame toasts, or even artichoke dip, or fruity options like simple fruit kebobs, creamy fruit dips, or even a pear or apple crostini with prosciutto.
  • Some protein – Don’t forget the meat and fish! Protein-packed options keep guests’ tummies full and satisfied and will be an important part of your finger foods menu. You can choose something very traditional like wings or chicken fingers or go a little more exotic with sushi or a variety of tastes from different cultures, like chicken satay or maybe a Polynesian meatball option.
  • Starches – Starchy options are also a mainstay of finger food parties and the possibilities are endless. Again, you can go in the direction of traditional and include items such as pizza squares or finger sandwiches, or you can get a little fancier with creative flatbreads, stuffed crescent rolls, mini savory or sweet muffins, and much more. Cheese is often a component of bread-based appetizers because the two go together so well.
  • Desserts – Of course, you’ll want to include sweets among your finger foods, and this is likely the easiest category of all because there are so many possibilities for sharing bite-sized desserts. Candies, tiny pieces of cake, itty bitty cupcakes, cheesecake, cookies…it’ll be hard to narrow it down to just a few selections!

Make sure you have enough

With finger foods and small appetizer-type options, it’s hard to determine how much you should have. Unlike a formal sit-down dinner that includes pre-determined portions, sometimes it’s difficult to know how many finger foods each guest will eat.

Of course, everyone has a different appetite but, in general, the average number of small bites a personal will eat at a cocktail party is 12. However, if you’re doing just finger foods, experts say you can safely double that number and have enough.

Also, be sure that you have at least 12-15 different kinds of finger foods on the menu for a party of 40 or more. However, if your finger food party is much more intimate, figure about 6-10 varieties and try to include at least something from each of the above categories.

Really, what it comes down to is crafting a menu that includes dishes that will appeal to a variety of tastes but that also fits the mood of your party. In addition, if your party is themed, look for options that fit with that particular emphasis. A good caterer can provide you with many ideas!

 

Intrigued by the idea of an “all finger food” party? Talk to your caterer about your options for creating an interesting and delicious menu for your next event!

5 Pros of Having a Midweek Wedding

You’re engaged!! Now it’s time to give some thought to all the details of the wedding, including when it will happen, where it will be held, who will be in the bridal party, and what kind of food you’ll serve at the reception. Weddings are quite a big deal and all the planning can be a bit overwhelming. Nonetheless, it’s certainly a special occasion and one that you’ll want to make memorable, not only for yourselves – the couple – but for your guests, too.

Perhaps you’ve heard about the trend of having a midweek wedding. It’s becoming more and more popular! After all, the royals do it! Kate and William were married on a weekday! So, were Charles and Di…but we won’t go there.

But maybe you also have friends who have opted to schedule a weekday wedding simply because there are a lot of perks to holding a wedding ceremony and reception on Wednesday or Thursday instead of Saturday or Sunday. For many couples, this is the ideal choice, and the pros of having a mid-week wedding far outweigh the negatives for some happy couples. Here’s why!

  1. You’ll save money on locations – Yup, it’s true! Midweek weddings are way cheaper than weddings held on the weekends or on Friday evenings. In most cases, you’ll find that venues will charge a lot less on a weekday or weekday evening because that’s their downtime. They want to fill those non-busy hours with events that will allow them to make some extra money, so chances are if you ask for prices for an upcoming Wednesday in mid-June, you’ll get a much better price than you’ll get for any busy spring or summer weekend.
  2. You’ll have a wider choice of venues – If you know anyone who’s booked a weekend wedding recently, especially during a popular wedding season, chances are that if the venue they had their eye on is a busy one, they may have not gotten their first, second, or even third choice of dates. As a matter of fact, some couples that simply MUST have a particularly popular venue may have to book two years out…or more! That means they’re waiting to have their wedding simply because of the venue. If you choose a midweek wedding, it’s not likely you’ll face the same difficulties. For example, if you’ve got your hearts set on that amazing venue in midtown Vancouver, the one everyone’s been talking about, you can probably book it on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday without having to wait ridiculous amounts of time.
  3. You’ll also be able to nab those coveted vendors – You know that amazing photographer you’ve been hearing about on bridal websites and among friends who are recent brides? Well, she’s booked on Saturdays and Sundays for the next year! How about that caterer who everyone says is the one to nab for great wedding food? He’s got weddings booked nearly every weekend in the coming two years! However, if you contact either of those businesses – or any other popular wedding-related vendor – and tell them you’re doing a midweek wedding, chances are they’ll jump at the chance to help you and you’ll likely have your choice of dates, too!
  4. You might also save on your honeymoon trip – Did you know it’s much cheaper to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday than on a Saturday or Sunday? That’s right! If you’re keen on leaving for your honeymoon trip right after the wedding, you’ll find better rates on not only airfares but on just about any travel-related transportation and on accommodations as well if your trip starts on a weekday. Even if you’re just driving to your destination and staying for a few days, it’ll cost you less for weekday travel and hotel stays.
  5. You can keep it intimate and low-key – If you’re planning on a small wedding with an invitation list of under 40, this is the ideal time to do it. Truth is that it’s much easier to gather a small group on a weekday or weeknight than it is to gather a very large crowd simply because you’ll have more conflicts in the middle of the week. But if you plan ahead and let your small group know your specific plans with plenty of notice, chances are they can arrange to be there. Think about scheduling your wedding on a Thursday night, perhaps, and your guests will have a reason to take Friday off too and enjoy an extended weekend!

 

Of course, there are drawbacks to a midweek wedding and the option isn’t for everyone, especially if you have a large number of guests traveling from out of town or you have bridal party members who just can’t get the time off. But if you’ve done all your research and you think it’ll work, start your planning and call Catering Visions to check on our midweek availability as well as the many menu options we have available to make your special day even more memorable!

 

Mix It Up with A La Carte Options for Your Wedding

If you’ve started to search for a caterer for your wedding (or your next large party), you’ve probably seen lots of meal “packages”; that is, menus that don’t allow for a lot of flexibility. Perhaps you’ve found these kinds of catering menus while searching online or even when you’ve met with a caterer or a reception venue manager in person.

Typically, with such a menu you’ll be offered the choice of a handful of appetizers, a salad, maybe two or three entrees (from a list of about 6-8), and a dessert. You might have some opportunity to make some changes, but these menus aren’t as flexible as you might like.

But as the best caterers in the business recognize the need to diversify a bit, these traditional meal choices are perhaps fading in popularity as other choices become more prevalent.

Enter, for example, the a la carte option, which has become more of a trend at weddings and other large gatherings. A la carte options give you the opportunity to mix it up, so to speak, and to perhaps select dishes that reflect the culture and background as well as the likes of both the bride and the groom.

Why a la carte?

Consider the fact that among millennials there are more interracial and interfaith marriages than ever before and that makes it easy to understand why such flexibility in wedding catering is essential. The couple may be looking to combine two or more heritages into one meal, providing them the opportunity to treat their guests to the food with which they’ve grown up in their respective households. A la carte options – a little from each culture – make sense.

Caterers who thrive on letting their guests know that they are willing to think out of the box rather than stick with one or two traditional menus are the ones that are attracting couples who really want to give a bit of themselves to their guests who’ve come to enjoy the wedding meal.

Making it cohesive

The biggest trick, however, is to take those foods from different countries or cultures and meld them into a meal that makes sense. As the caterer tries to fuse these varied traditions, he or she needs to come up with a way for the meal to flow sensibly. For example, you wouldn’t want to serve Moroccan Chicken with a helping of hearty Italian gnocchi on the side. That just doesn’t go together!

Most caterers have discovered that the best way to handle such fusions is to break them up into courses. For example, if you’re hoping to combine Asian cuisine with French cooking, you might offer a variety of small dim sum-type appetizers followed by a classic French entrée with sides. You might end with a dessert buffet that includes options from both cultures.

That really is the trick…to make to it all work together, say caterers who’ve been finding the need to offer such a la carte options more and more often in the past several years. An experienced, creative caterer can take the suggestions of the couple and/or the wedding hosts (parents, etc.), hone them a bit if necessary, make his/her own suggestions, and come up with a menu that’s interesting and exciting for the guests while meeting the wants and wishes of the bride and groom.

Finding an a la carte caterer

Serving good quality wedding food is important to most couples, regardless of how creative or traditional they might want to be with the menu. But when the bride and groom really are thinking outside the box, it’s essential to find a catering service that’s willing to go the extra mile and work with the couple to craft a menu that may be a little different.

These days, many couples looking for a la carte options begin their search on the internet, seeking a caterer in their area who does more than roast beef, potatoes, green beans, and chocolate cake. As you search, a good rule of thumb is to look for website text that talks about “customizing” your own menu. That means the chefs are willing to merge your ideas with theirs to come up with something that’ll please you and your guests while also speaking to your personality, heritage, or culture.

While you’ll likely pay a little more for these custom options, most couples will agree that money spent on delicious, quality food is money well spent. After all, when all is said and done, your guests may not remember the color of the napkins or the title of the song for the first dance, but they will remember what you served them for dinner.

 

Looking for information on a la carte options for your wedding? Call us at 604-657-8373 and speak to a member of our team.

Turkey or Roast Beef for Your Holiday Feast

So, to which team do you belong – Team Turkey or Team Roast Beef?

Everyone has different preferences for their holiday dinners and the choices for entrees usually come down to the traditional turkey feast or some sort of beef delicacy, like a rib roast. It’s often hard to decide. Many cooks opt for their favorite or sometimes choose the one that’s easier to prepare, while others take a vote amongst family members and choose the holiday entrée that gets the most positive nods.

So, let’s take a look at the two options for a moment.

Totally Turkey

Turkey has long been the Christmas favorite. Did you know that turkey is said to have first appeared as a holiday feast on English tables way back in the 16th century? That’s right. It slowly replaced the main course of boar, which was popular in medieval England. (There’s even a Christmas carol written about the boar’s head feast!) History shows that King Henry VIII (yup, the one with the six wives) was the first monarch to have turkey for Christmas dinner.

The popularity of eating turkey for the holidays continued to spread and – along with the goose – became the meal of choice in England. You might remember the scene in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, written in 1843, where Scrooge sends Bob Cratchit out to get the largest turkey he can find so that his family – including Tiny Tim – can enjoy a delicious and plentiful meal for Christmas.

In English-speaking Canada, the tradition is very much the same. Turkey often takes center stage along with stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and wonderful vegetables to round out the meal.

There are a number of reasons, besides tradition, for choosing turkey for your holiday feast. Firstly, it’s a very healthy meat. Turkey is low in fat and a nutritious option, though when paired with the usual trimmings, it becomes a bit less so. It’s also less costly than beef and other red meats and supermarkets often offer specials on turkey around holiday time.

Beautiful Beef

But then there’s that scrumptious red meat – roast beef. If you covet a sizzling steak or a delicious rib roast, this might be the way to go for your holiday feast.

While turkey is turkey, usually roasted in an oven and lightly seasoned with herbs, beef can come in many forms. While not as traditional as turkey or even ham, beef has become a festive option for many families and takes center stage at parties small and large. Why? Because it’s often viewed as decadent, a real treat that’s a bit of a splurge. And you certainly deserve an extra treat and a bit of indulgence at Christmastime, right?

Perhaps you’ll opt for the perfect prime rib. A little costly but well worth the expense, prime rib is succulent and delicious, especially when cooked to a proper medium or medium rare. The exterior can be garnished with just salt and pepper and it’ll taste amazing, or you can add other herbs and spices according to your taste.

Beef tenderloin is also an excellent option. It can be sliced thinly or you can offer robust slices that resemble steak. It’s delicious and, again, you can season it in a variety of ways.

Another wonderful choice for Christmas dinner is Beef Wellington, a beef tenderloin roast wrapped in flaky pastry, often with a mixture of mushrooms placed between the seasoned beef and the pastry. It both looks and tastes beautiful and will be a hit with guests of all ages.

Turkey or beef for catered parties?

If you’re considering hiring a caterer for an upcoming holiday party, you’ll need to think about your menu and – no doubt – you’ll need to consider what you want to offer for the main course.

At Catering Visions, we offer a variety of options for holiday parties and both turkey and beef are definitely “on the menu” for our Christmas party offerings. The chefs at Catering Visions can work with you to come up with a party menu that will best accommodate the size of your gathering as well as the budget with which you’re working.

Whether this is a work-related party or a personal at-home affair, there are catering options that involve both beef or turkey and – in some instances – you might even choose to offer both since you may encounter guests who don’t eat red meat while others love it. Pair either with the right side dishes along with appetizers and dessert and you’ve got a holiday meal that’s fun and festive.

Need help planning your holiday party menu? Call the professionals at Catering Visions for a consultation. It’s not too late to plan the perfect holiday meal!

Employ Flavours from Different Countries in Your Catering Menu

We’ve all been there. Catered events that include some sort of baked chicken, potatoes or rice, and a handful of green beans. There’s a boring old salad to start and maybe chocolate cake for dessert. It’s not very interesting but, hey, it’s what’s available so you eat it.

But catered meals don’t need to be boring and they don’t need to be the same old, same old. A creative caterer can provide you with numerous options including incorporating flavours from different countries into your next catered event.

So many of us enjoy sampling cuisine from different countries and cultures, either because we’re part of those cultures or simply because we’re adventurous eaters. Eating is one of the true joys of life and the opportunity to expand one’s palate is a delight. So, why shouldn’t these diverse offerings be available when using a caterer?

The good news is that many caterers are eager to step out of the box and away from the chicken, pasta, and other traditional party foods. Find a caterer with a chef who loves to try his/her hand at different recipes and it’s likely that the sky’s the limit as far as crafting a menu that incorporates international favorites.

Consider some of these for your next corporate event, family gathering, or wedding reception.

African Adventure

  • Cucumber and mango salad (East Africa)
  • Piri Piri chicken (Mozambique)
  • Jollof rice (Nigeria)
  • “Bunny Chow” curry (South Africa)
  • Biryanis (Zanzibar)

Mexican Fiesta

  • Tequila lime grilled chicken
  • Stuffed poblano peppers
  • A taco bar with fixings
  • Red rice
  • Refried beans
  • Fried ice cream, sopapilla, or dessert empanadas

Greek Island Delights

  • Gyros – lamb, chicken, or pork, with tzatziki sauce
  • Chicken skewers with Greek yogurt dipping sauce
  • Greek salad
  • Hummus and pitas
  • Baklava

Idyllic Italian

  • Caprese salad
  • Antipasto
  • Risotto
  • Chicken or eggplant parmesan
  • Lasagna
  • Cannoli or tiramisu

Caribbean Cuisine

  • Tropical fruit salad
  • Jamaican jerk chicken
  • Grilled fish with mango salsa
  • Yuca fries or yuca mashed potatoes
  • Conch salad
  • Coco bread
  • Fruity bread pudding or rice pudding

So, if you’re interested in adding some international flair to your next catered event, by all means, take some time to jot down your ideas and present them to the caterers you’re considering. If you’re met with resistance, move on to the next caterer on your list.

Remember, a truly good caterer may not necessary embrace all of your ideas (sometimes certain dishes are just not practical for large group events) but will review your suggestions, latch on to some of them, and also make recommendations of their own to enhance your ideas and provide a wonderful international meal for your guests.

 

Benefits of a Brunch Wedding

Weddings are wonderful occasions, but they can certainly be expensive and anxiety-producing. These days, planning for a wedding sometimes takes more than a year and involves everything from choosing the right dress and bridal party outfits to securing that perfect venue you’ve always had your eye on and knew would be your wedding venue someday.

But, as weddings become more and more expensive, many couples have come to the realization that the $5000 dress and the reception hall with lasers and $150-per-plate dinners simply don’t need to be a part of the plan. Many recognize that their wedding day is all about spending time with family and friends and have shifted their plans to a more easy going, budget-friendly option. A brunch wedding is one of those options.

The benefits of a brunch wedding are many and most of them are both cost- and anxiety-reducing. Planning a brunch wedding is easier than planning an elaborate evening soiree and will likely save thousands of dollars that can be better used for a honeymoon or to set up that first home or apartment. Consider these benefits.

  • It’s easier to find a venue – In many cases, the most popular wedding venues in your city/town are probably booked more than a year in advance. That means if you’re considering a date during a popular wedding time, you’ll need to plan far ahead of time and must be willing to pay top dollar for an evening affair. Conversely, if you schedule a brunch wedding, you’ll find that time slots between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. are much more readily available and will be less costly.
  • Everything associated with a brunch is less expensive – Besides being able to nab a venue or restaurant at a lower cost, brunch foods – in general – tend to be less expensive than foods chosen for an elaborate buffet or plated dinner. It’s also less likely you’ll have to deal with an open bar – which can add thousands to your bill – but can instead offer something simple like mimosas, Bloody Marys, or a glass of champagne. All of this means you can up your guest list without breaking the bank, too.
  • Formal or informal – Truly, brunches can be as fancy or as casual as the wedding couple wishes. The formality of the wedding can be determined by both the food and the decorations as well as the ambiance of the venue.
  • More time to celebrate – Scheduling a morning wedding followed by a brunch reception means the formal festivities will likely be over by 2-3 pm rather than midnight or 1 a.m. You can then spend the rest of the day with close family and friends at home or elsewhere and even plan some sort of other fun activity afterwards, like ice skating in the winter or an outdoor activity in the warmer months.
  • The honeymoon starts sooner – When you’re not partying until 1 a.m., you can arrange your travel plans so that you may depart for your honeymoon trip by early evening or even late afternoon. There are many more flights available during the day, and if you’re driving you can get a head start before it gets dark.
  • The food is scrumptious – Nearly everyone loves brunch food! Eggs and breakfast meats, potatoes, pasta, carving stations, fresh fruit, muffins and scones, waffles, bagels, French toast…there are so many, many options, both hot and cold. Furthermore, brunch foods can be easily served buffet-style if you wish but can also be plated or served family-style, where everyone at the table shares from a large platter of each item. You might even consider an omelet station or a cereal bar!
  • Anxiety is reduced – Seriously, it’s so much easier to plan a brunch wedding than a fancy evening reception. Stress levels go down because there are far fewer decisions to make about food, decorations, and more.

If you’re considering the benefits of a brunch wedding, check with your caterer about menu ideas that suit your tastes and your budget. Creative caterers will be ale to craft a lovely brunch that you and your guests will remember with fondness, recalling the beauty and simplicity of the day and the joy of sharing in your special occasion.

Food Ideas to Make Dazzling Winter Weddings Sparkle and Shine

Can’t you just picture it?? The beautiful bride and handsome groom emerge from their ceremony, the ground glistening with a light dusting of snow and the trees twinkling with a bit of frost that just seems to make the whole world sparkle a little brighter.

Winter weddings are magical and there’s so much one can do with colors and hues to create a winter wonderland or even a lovely Christmas tableau. And there’s also wonderful food offerings available that speak of the warm flavors of winter or the holidays and the comfort we look for in a meal on a cold winter day.

Choosing a creative caterer

If you’ve chosen a winter wedding, chances are you have some ideas in mind for your wedding dinner/reception menu. It’s not likely that you’re thinking of cool summer salads, ice cream sundaes, or menu items that seem to indicate other seasons of the year.

So, the first thing you need is a caterer who has a good winter wedding menu in place or one who would be willing to stray from their “regular” menus and work with you to craft a winter- or holiday-themed menu that fulfills your dreams for your wedding meal. Flexibility is key when it comes to choosing a caterer, and creativity is equally as high on the list of characteristics you seek in a good one as well.

When interviewing caterers for winter weddings, talk about the mood you wish to portray and what you hope guests will take away with them when they leave. Suggest some foods but be willing to let the caterer guide you – the bride and groom, parents, or whomever is paying for the dinner – as to what works best for a gathering of your size.

Menu ideas for winter weddings

In most cases, winter weddings in Canada happen on cold days…or, at least, chilly ones. That means your guests will be looking for “comfort foods” that warm their insides. There are many options that can be adapted to a larger group. Some you might consider are:

  • Small mugs or glasses of soup like tomato bisque or other creamy offerings like mushroom or butternut squash. (You can even include a triangle of grilled cheese and offer these together as an appetizer.)
  • How about a poutine or baked potato bar? These are great choices for a stick-to-your-ribs winter meal and guests have fun doing their own thing to make the potatoes uniquely theirs.
  • For cocktails, consider including something like hot mulled wine or some sort of spiked warm cider.
  • Salads can look festive and wintery by using spinach as the base and toppings such as feta or goat cheese, pomegranate seeds or cranberries, green apples or pears, and walnuts or pecans. Consider a warm dressing to top it off.
  • For the main course, beef is an excellent choice for winter weddings. Filets or another tender cut are delicious and can be complemented with a hearty baked or mashed potato and some root vegetables. For vegetarians, cheese- or lobster-filled ravioli with a cream sauce is a nice option as is salmon with cranberry topping or something similar. Pork works well, too.
  • Dessert for winter weddings lends itself towards choices like molten chocolate cake or perhaps a traditional crème brulee. Yum!
  • Be sure to have plenty of hot coffee and tea available and consider something else fun that the kids will like, such as a hot chocolate bar with a variety of toppings. (The adults will adore it, too!)

Your caterer will have many more ideas for your sparkling winter wedding and, together, you’ll be able to design the ideal menu for your guests. Take time to carefully peruse the choices that satisfy not only your palate but your budget as well.