Play It Safe or Get Creative: What Menu Is Right for Your Event?

How to know what menu is right for your event

Photo Courtesy of Powers Studios

Planning a menu for your event is quite the task. Do you play it safe with standby crowd pleasers? Or do you shake things up with creative options that will impress your guests? How do you handle food allergies and sensitivities? How do you make it all cohesive? How do you know what menu is right for your event?

To start with, you need to know your guests. Some groups will appreciate a break from the traditional hors deuvres they see at every event. Especially if you have certified foodies in your group, feel free to take a few “risks” with your menu. However, as you know, some palettes aren’t so adventurous and will need to see something familiar they know they’ll enjoy. But the important thing is you knowing your guests so you can give them a menu they’ll enjoy. When “profiling” your guest list, a few things to look at are:

  • Age range
  • Ethnicity
  • Professional level
  • How often they attend events similar to your own
  • How health conscious are your guests

One thing to keep in mind is that creative doesn’t have to be obscure. By definition, creativity takes people outside their normal box. However, that doesn’t mean you have to choose weird foods simply for the sake of being weird. Small, simple changes to an ingredient can often elevate it considerably.

Another tip I live by is providing a variety of options. Include a hearty vegetarian and/or gluten-free dish that could serve as a main course for guests with those dietary needs. Spice it up with an unexpected dish but be sure to include at least one reliable crowd-pleaser (who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?!). That said, letting one dish be the star of the menu – with the others in supporting roles – will come off far more cohesively than a menu full of dishes trying to be the center of attention.

If you’re really stuck on what to choose, I always default to what’s in season. Seasonally fresh food will always taste better than options that aren’t in season. For example, citrus makes much more sense than berries in December.

Finally, remember that sometimes simple is best. If you have one killer dish to be the starring act, you can keep everything else fairly simple. Take a beautifully arranged charcuterie board: it’s simple to assemble and visually arresting… and will likely be the highlight for many guests!

If you need help planning what menu is right for your event, we’re happy to help! You can browse our sample menus and get an idea of what we offer, and then we would enjoy working with you to find a the perfect combination for your upcoming event.