This is the second email of our year-end gala series and this topic can make or break your event.

You can make just about any venue appear elegant, but you can’t fix bad food.

In this issue, we’re looking at ways you can make sure your gala menu is not only delicious, but also matches the elegance of the event.

Delicious food, elegant staging, and immaculate food service all work together at your gala event

What are your plans around food, beverages, and food service for your event?

Are you planning to do a sit-down dinner with formal place settings or will servers roam with trays of food?

While your budget may drive many decisions, there are also practical considerations.

Nothing will ruin an elegant sit-down dinner more quickly than half the guests being served cold food because the on-site kitchen was ill-equipped or there wasn’t adequate staff to serve the tables quickly enough.

Here are some details to consider regardless of your budget:

Guest count

Head count seems like a pretty obvious detail when planning an event menu, but the number of people being served is only part of the story.

Dietary restrictions

Meeting special needs of your guests is important and requires some advanced knowledge about your guests. Planning for common dietary wants and needs like common allergies and food preferences for vegans and vegetarians just makes common sense. We’re long past the days when vegans made do with carrots and celery sticks.

Full service or self-service

Being served at a table may seem more elegant, but self-service or partial service stations can be as beautifully laid out with decadent menu items as a full-service meal.

Keep hors d’oeuvres elegant and bite-sized

No guest will feel elegant with stains or crumbs dribbled down the front of their gala outfit.

While some of us are more prone to wearing our food than others and a certain amount of mess is to be expected, your caterer should take every effort to serve a menu that is as easy to consume as it is delicious and lovely to look at.

When it comes to starters, bite-sized is often enough. Once your guest has to calculate the amount of crumbing or oozing that occurs when biting down on an appetizer, you’ve changed the event from an elegant gala to a strategy session.

While these tips may apply to the rest of the menu, it’s often during the starters course when guests are mingling and chatting. The food being served should not detract from the enjoyment of your guests.
Keep in mind that your gala menu needs to be more than simply delicious. Whether you’re serving a sit-down dinner or you have food stations and standing tables, your guests want to look elegant while eating.

Your menu may be filled with foods that are beautiful, delicious… even decadent, but if your guests are shying away from enjoying foods because they are difficult to eat, it won’t matter how delicious the food is.

End-of-year galas are often sophisticated events and require a great deal of planning. If you’re getting a late start, or if your event planning is in process but you’re feeling a time pinch, I’d love to help.

Aurice Guyton

Author Aurice Guyton

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