In a world where every corporate event competes for attention, the challenge of making yours truly stand out is ever more daunting. Among the many facets that contribute to the success of an event, one reigns supreme—the food and beverage experience.
The choices you make in this department can either leave an indelible mark on your guests or fade into the background. Every year, culinary trends emerge that can elevate your event to new heights, creating lasting impressions. In this article, we explore the latest in food and beverage trends, shedding light on what’s in vogue and what’s fading away.
The growing prominence of dietary preferences—such as veganism, vegetarianism, and pescatarianism—has reshaped the culinary landscape. Beyond catering to specific dietary needs, the demand for plant-based cuisine now reflects a broader commitment to health improvement. Vegetable-based dishes and meat alternatives are gaining ground, appealing to both omnivores and carnivores. Consider introducing the versatile jackfruit to your menu—a chameleon that can mimic almost any meat, from BBQ to meatballs, and more.
While health-conscious food options remain on the rise, this trend is extending its influence to beverages. While traditional cocktails remain a staple, low-proof and zero-proof options are making waves. Think of offerings like kombucha, infused sparkling drinks, exotic fruit teas, and coffee spritzes as excellent additions to your menu.
Substitute Noodles & Rice
With the surge in popularity of low-carb diets, vegetable substitutes for noodles and rice are gaining traction. These alternatives not only align with health goals, and satisfy the need for gluten-free options, but also boast flavor profiles that do justice to the originals. Explore options like zucchini noodles, carrot noodles, cauliflower rice, and other faux pasta/rice choices—they can easily find a place on any menu.
The culinary world has crowned mushrooms as one of the hottest produce items for this year, dethroning previous favorites like cauliflower and kale. Portobellos, button mushrooms, shiitake, crimini, and gourmet mushroom varieties are now gracing plates as sides, in vegetable bowls, and blended with meats in specialty burgers.
Charcuterie Boards and Miniature Creations
Beyond the health-conscious options, creative presentations are making their mark. The charcuterie board is still a rage (and now butter boards and dessert boards). Miniaturization is also a trend, with mini charcuterie boards, mini salads, individual crudité cups, bite-sized spaghetti and meatballs, shrimp cocktail shooters, and more. Planners and event guests are getting bored of the same hors d’oeuvres that you see everywhere you go, so these creative ways of presenting cocktail foods are very popular.
Food carts for specialty items like gelato carts, ice cream carts, and boozy popsicle carts add an interactive and fun element to events. During a recent site visit to Italy, limoncello carts were on every street corner. Also, champagne carts, coffee carts, waffle carts, and taco carts have risen in popularity. Obviously, the location of the event can dictate what type of cart you might incorporate.
Culinary Trends Lifecycle
Culinary trends, much like everything else, follow a lifecycle. As new trends rise to the top, others naturally recede. When incorporating new trends into your event, consider a thoughtful balance. It’s acceptable to include some fading items on your menu, but ensure you infuse freshness by embracing newer food and beverage trends too.
Mashed Potato or Mac n’ Cheese Bar
The predominant theme among 2020 trends is the pursuit of health-conscious options. While mashed potato and mac n’ cheese bars are undeniably delicious and budget-friendly, their carb-heavy nature no longer aligns with the rising demand for healthier choices. However, you can retain guest engagement and creativity by modernizing these concepts. Substitute cauliflower for potatoes to create a mashed cauliflower bar, allowing guests to customize their servings with an array of toppings. For the mac n’ cheese bar, consider a pasta bar featuring the popular faux noodle trend—zucchini noodles, carrot noodles, and more—allowing guests to craft their pasta experience.
Kale’s meteoric rise as a nutrient-dense leafy green over the past decade brought both dietary benefits and unique flavors to the table. While kale remains a tasty choice, it has become somewhat overused and predictable. Menus are now shifting their focus toward other produce items, with mushrooms taking center stage.
Basil and Grapefruit Pairing in Cocktails
While the combination of basil and grapefruit undoubtedly appeals to and assures safety in menu choices, mixologists are in a perpetual quest for new and distinctive flavors that set them apart. Basil and grapefruit have become commonplace in the world of cocktails. Consider infusing fresh excitement into your beverage menu with herbs like rosemary and thyme or fruits like pomegranate and plum. There’s a multitude of herb and fruit pairings waiting to surprise and delight your guests in novel ways.
Edible Flowers as a Garnish
Edible flowers made a stylish debut in the ’60s and ’70s, enhancing dish sophistication through garnishes. While they enjoyed a resurgence in 2014 due to their dual role as garnishes and flavor enhancers, their appeal has waned. The current farm-to-table movement has sparked creativity in food presentation, offering an array of unique garnish options that have rendered edible flowers somewhat dated.
The deconstructed food presentation style, focusing on the fundamental components of each dish, once captured consumer attention with its novelty and ingredient visibility. However, diners now crave fresh experiences. Chefs are reimagining presentation styles to create visually striking, picture-worthy plates that stand out in a crowded culinary landscape.
As you explore new and innovative ways to enhance your food and beverage menus for corporate events, remember that strategic choices can elevate your event to unforgettable heights. Whether you choose to incorporate every trend or opt for selective refreshment, a well-thought-out approach will ensure your corporate event leaves a lasting impression.
Corporate gatherings play a crucial role in the smooth operation of a company. They serve as a hub, bringing together individuals from diverse roles, departments, and locations to collaboratively shape and align the strategies propelling the company forward. From finding the perfect venue to managing audiovisual needs, ensuring delightful F&B experiences, handling registrations, creating agendas, and more, the orchestration of these various elements results in a productive meeting that delivers the desired outcomes.
Our teams dive into the research and groundwork, allowing you to kick back and concentrate on those high-level decisions. For a taste of more inventive ideas for curating an outstanding menu, drop us a line—we’re here to elevate your event to new heights.