2020 Food and Beverage Trends for Corporate Events

In a world full of comparison, making your corporate event stand out among the crowd is becoming increasingly challenging. While there are many components to each event, one of the most impactful is the heart of your event: the food and beverage.

Your food and beverage choices are crucial to your guest’s overall experience. An unpopular choice will leave a negative impact on your guests, but a safe choice can leave no impact at all. Each year, there are a variety of culinary trends that can take your event to the next level and leave a lasting impression. Let’s dive into 2020’s hottest F&B trends you can easily incorporate into your next event.

Note: During the current COVID-19 pandemic, some food trends that involve displays or touching might be on hold, but Brightspot is looking beyond with this blog. For some more topical ideas take a look at Kim Fox’s post on what to expect after COVID-19.

What’s In:

Plant-Based Cuisine

There are a variety of dietary needs that have become increasingly prominent over the years and are now considered mainstream – Vegans, Vegetarians, Pescatarians, etc. However, the demand for plant-based cuisine is no longer due solely to dietary needs, but instead reflects the increased focus on health improvement goals. Vegetable plates and meat alternatives are becoming increasingly popular and are being offered as menu options for omnivores and carnivores alike. Consider adding the versatile jackfruit to your next menu. This fruit can easily be transformed into a substitute for almost any type of meat you can think of – BBQ, meatballs, shredded chicken or beef, and so much more!

food and beverage trends for corporate events - plant based cuisineLow/Zero-Proof Cocktails

Health-conscious food options continue to be a trend, but we expect to see it expand into the beverage world. While cocktails will always be a staple, low-proof cocktails, zero-proof cocktails, and other beverage options are on the rise. Kombucha, infused sparkling drinks, exotic fruit teas, and coffee spritzes are excellent options to add to your menu.

Substitute Noodles & Rice

With low-carb diets increasing in popularity, vegetable substitutes for noodles and rice are on the rise. Even though they are considered healthy, these vegetable substitutes do not sacrifice in flavor. Zucchini noodles, carrot noodles, cauliflower rice, and other faux pasta/rice options are an easy trend to incorporate on any menu.

corporate event food and beverage trends alternative noodles
Mushrooms

Chefs across the nation have ranked mushrooms as one of the hottest produce items for 2020, a title previously held by cauliflower and kale. You’ll be seeing a lot more portobellos, button, shiitake, crimini, as well as gourmet mushrooms served as sides, in vegetable bowls, and specialty burger blends (think mushroom-beef burgers).

As with all things, culinary trends have a lifecycle. As some culinary trends rise to the top, others then must take the backseat. It’s important to be thoughtful in what new trends you want to incorporate in your event, but it’s equally as important to consider what trends have grown stale. While it’s okay to include items in your menu that are on their way out, be sure you are balancing them and keeping things fresh by including new food and beverage trends too.

What’s Out:

Mashed Potato or Mac n’ Cheese Bar

A common theme among the 2020 trends is a push for more health-conscious options. While mashed potato or mac n’ cheese bars are delicious and budget-friendly options, both are too carb-heavy to meet the rising demand for healthier options. Even though the base of this trend is out, guest involvement and creativity are two elements that you can continue to incorporate into your menus. To modernize the mashed potato bar, you could substitute cauliflower for the potatoes to create a mashed cauliflower bar. Guests would still have the option to customize their serving by choosing from a variety of toppings. For the mac n’ cheese bar, you could instead substitute a pasta bar that features the increasingly popular faux noodle trend (zucchini noodles, carrot noodles, etc.). Guests would select their noodle type, sauce, and toppings for an engaging and creative experience.

Kale

Over the past decade, kale has become increasingly popular as a nutrient-dense leafy green. Not only does it have immense dietary benefits, but it also adds unique texture and flavor to salads and sides alike. While still delicious, kale has been overused and become an obvious produce choice. Instead, menus are shifting their focus to other types of produce, such as the mushroom.

whats out food and beverage trendsBasil and Grapefruit Pairing in Cocktails

Anyone can agree that this pairing is an appealing and safe option to include on your menu. However, mixologists are constantly exploring and experimenting with new flavors to create drinks that set them apart. Basil and grapefruit have become too common in the cocktail world. Instead, spice things up with rosemary, thyme, pomegranate, or plum. There are a variety of other herb and fruit pairings that will surprise and delight your guests in fresh, new ways!

Edible Flowers as a Garnish

Making their debut in the ‘60s and ‘70s, edible flowers were used as a garnish to enhance the sophistication of a dish. As they grew in popularity, their message became diluted, causing them to lose their appeal. In 2014, they rose in popularity again due to their dual purpose as a garnish and to add flavor. Today, the farm-to-table movement is in full swing and has created a push for more creativity with food presentation. With more unique garnishes available, the edible flower has become dated.

Deconstructed Food

This presentation style is a result of chefs shifting their focus to the fundamental components of each entrée they create. Initially, consumers enjoyed the unique presentation and valued the ingredient visibility but are now ready for something new and picture-worthy. The demand for a picture-perfect plate is challenging chefs to think outside of the box and develop new presentation styles that will make their dishes stand out.

There are many options when considering new and innovative ways to enhance your F&B menus. Whether you want to incorporate every trend in your menu, or simply refresh it by adding one, being strategic with these choices will elevate your corporate event. Interested in more ways to create a noteworthy menu? Drop us a line to discover fresh ideas that will take your event to the next level.

Courtney Schroeder

Author Courtney Schroeder

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