In an effort to keep events fresh and unique, throughout the years caterers have developed all sorts of different ways to present their food. The age of the live action station came and went, and then the make-everything-mini-and-cute era pioneered by Peter Callahan came onto the scene. Although that trend is still around (and Peter's innovative hors d'oeuvres continue to impress), I'm seeing a different trend starting to pop-up.
More and more I'm seeing caterers take interactive, whimsical and gallery-like approaches to food presentation. If you've hired a good caterer, they will worry about the taste of the food as well as how it will be displayed or presented. And while there are endless variations of what they can do on a plate, to truly differentiate themselves and create a unique food experience, caterers are essentially creating artwork out of guests' food.
In a lot of cases, caterers are investing significant sums of money in designing and building custom display pieces so their food can be displayed in an artful manner. At a party to celebrate Peter Callahan's new studio a year and a half ago, I remember getting a tour of the offices and kitchen... and the design shop where all of their trays are custom painted, display items are built, etc. And, Pinch Food Design in NYC has a whole line of food related furniture and presentation items that they use and sell.
As seen in the photos above, presenting food en masse in a modern way can be very striking and elevate simple items like doughnuts into something that's talked about after the party. It's a great way to enhance a party with a little element of something unexpected. And while I wouldn't recommend serving an entire meal to 150 guests in this manner, for certain portions of the evening, roving pretzels or grilled cheese sandwiches being ironed on an ironing board might be very fun!
Two Things to Remember
While I love seeing all of this creativity from caterers, there are two important things I think everyone should remember:
1) The presentations need to be functional.
If you've hung bread pudding rods from a suspended structure, please make sure guests can reach them and unhook them easily. If something is supposed to be served warm, please make sure to keep it warm.
2) Above all else, no matter how cool the presentation is, please make sure the food is delicious!
What do you think about this trend? Let us know in the comments!