We are not only passionate about food, we are sticklers for planning a perfect party. Whether you are catering a simple breakfast for a boardroom meeting, a cocktail hour or an intimate holiday soirée, there are many components to consider when you begin organizing your event.
MANGIA was recently invited to participate in a webinar hosted by our delivery partner, Seamless. The invitees were asked to discuss the elements of a winning catering menu and we wanted to share our points with you!
Mangia’s Executive Chef, David. M Perez spoke on our behalf, David had an 11-year tenure at Cipriani where he was responsible for its three New York City locations. He traveled the globe on behalf of Cipriani’s — opening or revamping properties in Hong Kong, Sardinia and LA. Of note in 2011 he opened Mr. C Beverly Hills, which swiftly earned renown as a Leading Hotels of the World property. Most importantly, his recent role prior to joining Mangia was as Executive Chef of Estiatorio Milos. Spearheading the opening of the Group’s sixth location on Regent Street in London. He is well versed in pulling off a seamless event – no pun intended.
We broke down the key elements of catering a perfect event into three elements: Timing, Budget and Menu.
Firstly, choose items that can be easily prepared and that are not labor intensive. Braised meats, grain salads, grilled vegetables and sides can be served room temperature. Secondly, think about how simple items will be served. Do you need food warmers? Do you need wait staff or can guest serve themselves? What is the flow of the party? Sit down meals versus a standing cocktail hour dictates what menu items should be served.
How do you get the most from your budget? Understanding the menu size and the desired portions will help you get the most from your caterer. Importantly, events directly after work before dinner, people will be more hungry compared to an afternoon event where people may have eaten beforehand. Ordering seasonal foods helps reduce costs. Out of season items are more costly for restaurants, so the price can go up when including them on your menus. Chef David recommends also including grains, legumes and pastas to stretch the meal.
When planning a menu from a catering company, think about textures, preferences, memory. Food is a powerful menu trigger. So use nostalgia when planning your menu especially around the holidays. Incorporate traditional flavors or classic dishes into your assortment of foods. Secondly, when choosing menu items look at flavors and textures. Find a harmony of crunchy, creamy, sweet and salty. Thirdly, balance salads, sides, with heavier dishes so that guests can eat to their preference. Be sure to include vegetarian,vegan or pescatarian options.
Another key point is be playful with your beverage assortment. Design a cocktail or mocktail to be served as guests arrive. Also, corresponding with your beer and wine. Having a few interesting non-alcoholic options for guests or children displays a lot of hospitality as a host. MANGIA’s serves a version of an Italian soda. Mixing 1:1 parts our fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juices with San Pelligrino.
At Mangia we are mindful of culinary extremes like spicy food, raw onions and garlic. These ingredients can make guests self conscious of their breath, teeth or create too much odor in a room. Also, be conscious of guests religious guidelines or eating preferences gluten-free, paleo, dairy-free. We find that our antipasti salads are wonderful compromises for guests with specific preferences and are a hearty dish.
Lastly, a note from Chef David to ensure you have the right quantities of food…his rule of thumb is 5oz. of protein per person, 5oz. of sides per person and 1 piece of dessert per person.
We hope this information helps empower you to plan your perfect holiday fête. And, we are always here to help you plan! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book your next event.