The event industry is one of the fastest-evolving, and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest catering industry trends and expectations of clients and their guests.
With a little planning and creativity, however, it’s totally possible to embrace the latest fashions and bring a little of something new to menus throughout the year.
With that in mind, here are our top 10 trends in catering for 2018 and the expert opinion of Michelin Star chef, restaurants and catering business owners.
Flowers in Drinks
We’ve seen flowers in food and the rise of the signature cocktail, but 2018 brings these two trends together in all their photogenic glory.
Adding colour, scent, and flavour, flowers are set to make frequent appearances in the cocktails on a show this year. Think hibiscus, lavender, rose, and elderflower to add beautiful detail that’s perfect for an Instagram shot, while really enhancing the flavours of your drinks.
Farm-to-table local foods
A concept that’s still growing in both food and drink, farm-to-table menus bring the best of the region to the taste buds of discerning guests. Favouring quality and locality over quantity, caterers who embrace local suppliers are seeing the real success that is only set to continue this year.
Think about pairing the fares of local brewers and distillers with the best of seasonal, local veg for your 2018 menus.
“The first thing we do, is to find out what is the client requirement of course, also is there any dietary, and finally if there is a theme for the event, that way we can get as close as possible to what they love for that special day. It is always very good to work with the season, in fact, it is a must, best price, best quality, best flavour.”– Daniel Galmiche, Michelin star Chef, Writer, Consultant, Ambassador for the Norwegian Seafood Council, and Private Dinner Chef.
Comfort food turned up a notch
Classic dinner time favourites are making a come back in the catering industry, spurred on by the rise of street food trucks and small catering firms. Homemade dishes like fried chicken, sliders, and macaroni cheese are getting the upgrade treatment and will be found in small-dish and canape form at weddings across the country.
Fancy up your favourite home food and some recipe-book classics to delight your clients this year.
“It’s really easy to rest on your laurels and stick to the same old tried and tested menus but come on chefs, let’ s make 2018 the year of exciting new dishes. Creating something new doesn’t mean throwing together random ingredients though, let ‘s build on the classics and let great ingredients speak for themselves… dust off your old cookbooks, remind yourselves of some old favourites and get creative. Last but by no means least, go along to your butcher, fishmonger or grocer and ask them what great products they have at the moment, amazing plates of food start with amazing ingredients, so what better place to begin?” -Jonathan Carter-Morris, Executive Chef & Co-Founder of Caviar & Chips.
More than just desserts
Let’s be honest, one sweet is never enough, which explains one of the biggest trends in catering this year. Bitesize versions of favourite desserts are on the up, giving guests the chance to taste one of everything, instead of the traditional chunk of cake or fruit tart.
Provide a range of tiny treats, like cake-pops, cheesecakes, mini doughnuts, cookies and delicious mousses, to keep guests coming back for ‘just one more’.
Alternative eating is the new norm
Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, paleo, raw… the dietary preferences, allergies, and requirements that used to strike fear in the heart of the private chef are now a norm. Diners are paying more attention to what goes into their food, so think about seasonal, organic fresh fruit and veg, served both raw and cooked, with imaginative grains and alternative proteins for an inspiring catering menu.
Always keep an eye on the best restaurants. The plate ups, the ideas that they are bringing and the new ways of cooking ingredients.
Health and fitness food will be trendy in 2018 so fresh food, tasty and lots of vegetables and proteins. -David de Castro , the Founder of Ole Catering, Pro member and one of Poptop best suppliers of 2017.
Food and cocktail pairing
In a move away from wine and beer pairings, caterers this year will be pairing cocktails with their courses. Whether the focus is on local ingredients or in keeping with the event theme, the opportunities for creativity and flair are endless with this trend and are sure to get you loads of traffic on social media.
Allowing guests to graze and mingle, grazing tables are popping up everywhere in 2018. Combining wonderful textures with great flavours and beautiful colours, the best grazing tables are a feast for all the senses and a real show stopper at any event.
Bring together rustic bread, satisfyingly crisp and crunchy crackers, hard and soft cheeses, sharp and sweet fruit, chutneys, and cured meats, to create a grazing table that’s a decadent but sociable way to dine.
“Improving your menu doesn’t necessarily mean starting all over again, Gain inspiration by looking at the same dish but how others have achieved it- this way you can add different touches that you may not have necessarily thought about. Maybe look at a different cut of meat, a different type of bun or a different marinate- sometimes the simple things are the most effective.” – Ryan Murphy, Director of The Food Box and one of Poptop best suppliers of 2017.
Much like the nose-to-tail trend, root-to-stem cooking is the latest step in the drive to reduce food waste.
By making use of the entire fruit or vegetable, this trend is resulting in vast numbers of new and innovative dishes and techniques, serving new leafy greens in salads, or as sauteed sides, delicate new garnishes, and interesting pickle additions to colourful plates. Check out some root-to-stem recipes here.
Set up for social
Social media is still the super-star marketing tool of the modern caterer. Share behind the scenes footage of your best creations and product development, and encourage clients and guests to shout about you online as they enjoy your offerings.
Make sure your food and drink is always ready for an Instagram snap and think about using new and innovative ingredients, or introducing some drama and theatre to your servings to ensure you get those snaps and videos online.
Street food catering is here to stay
What could be better than eating and drinking great produce in the sun? Street food vans, trailers, tents and pop ups are still on the increase, and chefs are increasingly jumping out of their static kitchens to get on the road and enjoy the freedom to create and cook.
Street food catering is still going to be extremely popular this year! It is something that will grow more.
All of us love to be outside in a nice and sunny day, eating and with a affordable price. Every year chefs jumps out to restaurants to run their own kitchen. It gives you the freedom to create, cook, see happy clients and be outside having fun. -David de Castro, the Founder of Ole Catering
Keep up to date with the latest trends and catering advances, by keeping an eye on the best restaurants and chefs, and their Instagram pages! Check out how they’re serving up, the ingredients they’re using, and how they’re preparing them, then adapt those techniques to enhance your own menus.
Also, check out our guide for caterers – how to improve your conversion rate.