Hosting a successful function for business or pleasure; whether it’s a laid-back get-together or a formal wedding, the experience is all about the food.
How is it presented? How does it look? How does it smell? How good does it taste? Do you want your guests to feel welcomed and relaxed, or stimulated and engaged? Either way, you will always want to impress. If you don’t give the arrangement and set up of your environment much thought, it will have a negative impact on the presentation of your food and therefore how your guests feel about it. So, fully commit to the creative art of food presentation by putting people at ease.
Where should you start when planning an event? Thin profit margins and stiff competition means that staying ahead of the curve requires creative yet practical tips and ideas. Guests love uniqueness and originality, so in addition to providing the usual basic package that guests expect – throw in a curve ball and think outside the box!
Here are some pointers to equip your business for a successful event:
Comfort… whatever the event, start here as your guest will be happier if they are comfortable. After all, hard and uncomfortable seating can turn even the most fun event into a long and tiresome affair. Take care when choosing function seating; comfort far outweighs cost. Keep aesthetics and adaptability at the forefront of your mind.
Mix it up… consider a variety of seating options suitable for the particular event. For instance, at a more casual affair you could include sofas, comfy lounging chairs and benches, alongside more traditional tables and chairs, whereas a formal event will require more traditional and uniform arrangements.
Adaptable… seating selection needs to cater for intimate functions like weddings as well as theatre-style meetings, business roundtables and informal gatherings. The furnishings also need to be storable and easily handled.
Tables… need to fit the same parameters as chairs, and make sure the table and chair heights match for comfortable eating.
Outdoors… for outdoor events, you need to include something to provide shade (sails or umbrellas) and have a plan for wind and wet weather.
Aesthetics… ensure the materials and finishes fit the ambience of your function rooms, from steel, chrome and aluminium through natural and artificial timber, plastic, nylon (perspex/acrylics) to bamboo and cane. Once you decide on a material then you can worry about coverings/finishes, colour, and ergonomics!
Go local… guests love this! Source from your local environment and showcase beautiful local products from food to the buffet and banquet ware, also the furnishings and décor.
Staff… are your most important asset! Train them well, treat them well, encourage and praise their ideas and creativity.
Equip… use stylish, practical function ware. As with any form of dining, presentation is the key and remember food also needs to be served quickly, at the correct temperature, safely and with a bit of pizzazz.
Buffet… is the most popular way to serve food at a function, your presentation can dazzle guests if you do it right. A buffet needs to look stunning, showcase the produce and flow well; allowing guests to easily choose their goodies, staff to replenish as quickly as possible, and clear away without a fuss.
Table service… can be slower, cumbersome, and can deliver cold food or mixed-up orders and is complicated by today’s dietary preferences and fads. Successful table service can be a delightful experience and very relaxing if the staff are well trained and the table ware is on point.
Serving… you may need chafers and chafing dishes to heat lamps and buffet warmers, to serve meals at safe and desirable temperatures. Carving stations are popular and other heating elements to cook or prep food on-site and they certainly add to the wow! factor.
Food warmers… are needed to keep food temperatures above the Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point danger zone. The HACCP danger zone is identified as 5°C to 57°C, which is the temperature range where most pathogens will multiply in foods. Therefore, food that is held between 5°C to 57°C may become time-temperature abused and could lead to serious or fatal illnesses in guests.
If you’re transporting pre-cooked meals from your kitchen to an off-site location, then you also need to have the proper equipment to keep food hot.
Presentation… choose your crockery, cutlery and beverageware wisely. Appearance is crucial while maintaining practicality, longevity, ease-of-handling/storage and cleaning is essential. Replacement costs are also a factor but that does not mean function ware needs to be dull.
Displays… for intimate functions like weddings, an all-out display is absolutely required and usually planned with the couple, but stylish table cloths, centre pieces, floral arrangements, and placemats can enhance any function. You can go crazy with your creative side here, but a classy display always draws attention to the beautiful produce used or add a nod to your environment by displaying tropical fruit, native flowers, local crafts, or indigenous art work.
Coffee… people are coffee-crazed! And, the trend for good barista coffee is not going away. Why not make a spectacle of this coffee craze and include a coffee station – use a professional barista to serve locally roasted coffee – the delicious smell will add to your atmosphere. Or provide a good quality coffee machine for guests to help themselves.
Dessert… the latest trend in event planning is to include a stunning display of incredible deserts, chocolate, or sweets. A sweet/dessert display can be striking and the more Willy Wonka-ish the better!
Mood… a good atmosphere doesn’t just appear you must create it and can depend as much on lighting as it does on ambience. Use lighting effectively to enhance the desirability of the food presentation, create a subtle tone and mood or to distract from tired décor. Similarly, the type of background music you choose can really set the tone for the event, get people dancing or provide a background for intimate conversations.
White noise… don’t forget to have an area to project video or images, and have a rocking audio-visual display available not just for business events but also for celebratory parties.
Connectivity… don’t forget, guests will want connectivity for their devices always (not just at business events). They will appreciate free wifi and will want somewhere to charge their hand-held devices. If you don’t want guests crawling around your event space looking for a plug socket, during well-planned wedding event, it is advisable to provide plenty of allocated charging areas.