What’s Popular in the Food & Beverage Industry By Stella Johnson
Although the covid pandemic slowed everything down, including the world of food and beverage, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at F&B activities today:
1. Farm-to-Table Establishments that Cut the Mustard: The industry has been in love with this culinary movement for years and that’s because it is a great idea for our times. Getting produce and protein as fresh as possible to each dinner round of 10 is a true sign of a first-class, catering facility of any kind when choosing a convention center, hotel, or restaurant. So, ask the director of catering or head chef what their policies are in this regard and see if they “cut the mustard.”
2. Food Trucks, the Love Child of the Industry: Food trucks were almost born during the pandemic crisis of 2020. They, literally, rushed to the rescue and proved their worth. If you’re a meeting or event planner with an outdoor event in the future, strongly consider this option. Food trucks can be supplied by all sorts of facilities and venues. One idea is to have the local restaurants from the meeting or convention destination supply their cuisine on their trucks. For instance, you can have an Italian restaurant supply an FT with Italian fare, a Chinese restaurant with Asian fare, an Indian restaurant with Indian fare, and so on. The possibilities are endless. So, planners can have one event with a smorgasbord of food trucks lined up for little extra culinary excitement that attendees will talk about at the office water cooler in the weeks to come.
3. Thinking Outside-of-the-Box is the In-Thing To Do: This is probably the newest thing in the F&B world – don’t limit vegetables to side dishes – make their main dishes (especially good for vegans) OR turn them into desserts. Likewise, ask the chef to turn fruits into side dishes. In fact, planners can connect this F&B trend to the corporate culture itself – exemplifying how to think differently or “outside the box” to get results.
4. Alcohol & Attendees: Some years ago, the Director of Food & Beverage from the world-famous 21 Club in New York City shared some very interesting information with Facilities & Destinations, exclusively, about the alcohol content difference between wine and liquor. It’s not what one would always expect. Sometimes your selected wine has more alcohol than a gimlet, gin-and-tonic, or another cocktail of choice. So, be sure to check that out with the catering head. No planner wants an attendee to get a little tipsy at a corporate event of any kind.
5. Hold those Carbs: At business events, keep the carbohydrate offerings low. Don’t let attendees get caught up in “barbwire!” Carbos dull the mind and slow the body. For instance, at dinner, serve one baked potato rather than mashed potatoes which usually involves “more than just one.” Or, more creatively prepared greens. Also, no one really wants bread at dinner, they just reach for it because it is there. Originally, bread was served because it filled people up cheaply. Good for the budget but bad for the results planners want from attendees. For dessert, focus on the world of fresh fruit with interesting toppings like yogurt or cottage cheese. Serve fresh strawberries with a light yogurt sauce vs. strawberry shortcake for your group. Or, present peaches with honey-sweet, cottage cheese topping rather than carob-laden peach melba. Be creative and get your chef involved too.