Barrie Schwartz is the founder and CEO of New Orleans-based My House Social, which creates food experiences and opportunities for chefs by curating and producing unique menus for clients’ activations. Barrie has been honored as one of PCMA’s 20 in their Twenties, Connect Corporate’s 40 Under 40 and Zagat’s 30 Under 30. The My House Social team have catered big-name conferences including the New York Times’s Cities for Tomorrow, Beachbody, NBA All Stars and the wedding of Darren Criss.
Wow Your Guests with Curated Menus Supporting Local Chefs
Upping your event food game while supporting local chefs is as important as ever. Below we outline step-by-step ways you can try to improve the quality of cuisine at your next event.
Set Clear goals
Events definitely have goals, and every person’s goal is different from event to event. Some organizers want to ensure people feel like family and can gather together over their event, while others want their event to feel like an all-out festival. Knowing what you want to achieve before you start researching vendors will not only better shape your approach to the different elements of your event but is also an important first step in achieving knockout event experiences.
For example, if you are the kind of person looking to gather everyone together for your event, consider a seated, family-style dining experience. Taco bars and roving oysters are great too, but they’re solitary experiences that may not unify people like a family-style dinner would.
Do Your Research
Ensuring a step above the rest takes more research and digging in than finding the first person, vendor and ideas that show up on Google. You also don’t have to do something that’s been done before. Have ideas and original themes that can’t be found on the internet, but ensure your planners and vendors are able to execute that vision from start to finish.
When researching vendors, we all go for the reviews – we want to ensure that our vendor is the absolute best at what they do. However, be sure to also look at their portfolio. Do their events appear to be a standard formal service or are they doing things in completely new and unexpected ways? Checking out your vendor’s portfolio is a great way to ensure that they can be aligned with your goals, expectations and style.
Know Your Budget
It’s a simple rule; it’s a cardinal rule: Always have a budget in mind before you start getting quotes so that you are setting realistic expectations for yourself and for your prospective vendors.
Take Advantage of Tastings
Tastings are important for every event. Not only are they a great way to see how professional, responsive and delicious your event service will be, they also help you learn more about the food itself.
We’ve all been to events where the food is amazing but we don’t know anything about what’s being presented. If you’re eating at an oyster shucking station, it’s cool to know the kind of oyster you’re eating and what makes that taste different from other oysters that may be at the same station. We so often overlook the value in knowing a bit more of what’s behind what we’re eating, and it can be what makes it all the better! We make such a point to do it with wines and cheeses, so why not with the rest of your menu?
Use Multiple Chefs
We know chefs can be Jacks and Janes of all trades when it comes to creating menus, but having multiple chefs at your event ensures you’re having the masters of each flavor profile focus on every component of the menu. Dessert, appetizers and the mains can be from different specialty venues – this keeps quality high and the options unique.
Presentation Is Everything
Have high-quality signage with menu descriptions at the event. As we’ve said before, people want to know what they’re eating and where their food is coming from, but they also aren’t going to bother learning if they can’t read your hand-written calligraphy that took entirely too much of your time to make.
Follow the test and rule: if it’s Instagrammable, it’s good. That’s not to say that someone would take a photo of your menu signage or serviceware, but at this point, they very well might! Take a quick photo or grid it up on your camera to ensure even the minute presentations are picture perfect.
Everyone wants to walk away from an event with a good taste in their mouth so what are you waiting for?