7 Foodie-Inspired F&B Trends
F&B has always been an important component of events. Over the past few years, however, event planners are increasingly challenged to think out-of-the-box to satisfy attendees' growing epicurean interests. Below are seven innovative ways to engage and inspire the foodies at your next event.
Local and farm-to-table
Menus created around local, seasonal, fresh-from-the-farm ingredients are increasingly popular and can add unique flare to your catering strategy. Event attendees want to experience as much as they can about their host destination - and locally-sourced ingredients can be integrated into every facet of menu. Like many cities across the country, Dallas restaurants are building momentum in the farm-to-table movement. Texas Spice, the hotel restaurant at the Omni Dallas, sources many of its ingredients from local farms. Chef Jan Loov goes local whenever he can, getting his produce from Red Moon Farm in the East Texas town of Van, his beef from 44 Farms, and his catches from the Gulf. At Texas Spice, the sausages are house-made, as is the barbecue sauce.
Interactive chef stations
Hands-on stations allow guests to customize their food and mingle with fellow attendees. Make-your-own pizza stations, where diners select toppings, are an enduring favorite, but these stations don't need to stop at appetizers or entrees. With craft beverages and cocktails the norm on restaurant and bar menus, caterers can extend the experience with make-your-own beverages – including creative soda stations and beverages that match you overall theme, such as Thai iced tea for an Asian focus, agua fresca for a Latin menu.
Ethnic street fare
For today's event organizers, planning a meal that appeals to the exotic and ethnic tastes of attendees is growing in popularity. From laska and satay to kokoreç and kebabs, planners are now exploring a wide range of palate-expanding delicacies such as Indian-fusion, Middle Eastern, Asian and African cuisine.
Gluten-free, vegan, ancient grains and plant-based diets are some current trends and dietary movements that are emerging in catering and event planning. Chefs are working with exciting new ingredients to satisfy the ever-expanding demand for healthy and/or alternative dining options - including protein alternatives (quinoa, amaranth, tofu, beans), whole grains, leafy green vegetables (especially kale and spinach), low-fat selections, and low-sugar substitutions.
Small plates and creatively prepared bites, served in a reception style format, add a welcome diversion to an extended meeting schedule and help to maintain energy levels. Tapas and other small bites also allow for greater assortment of cuisine, delivering a unique, memorable experience. In addition, bite-size desserts have overtaken larger portions - if for no other reason than attendees are watching their waistlines and cholesterol levels.
From corporate meetings and conferences to larger events and music festivals, a growing number of planners are incorporating food trucks into their F&B strategy. These trucks give attendees a chance to enjoy a variety of food and some much-needed fresh air. Some planners use dedicated food truck operators, while others prefer to utilize trucks run by restaurants and hotel catering departments.
More and more, conference planners are looking to chefs and sommeliers to provide pre-dinner receptions and specialty dining that feature unique microbrews. There are craft breweries in nearly every major city, and most brewers know local chefs who can create one-of-a-kind pairings (like American wheat ale with seared scallops) based on local and seasonal ingredients. Local breweries, such as Four Corners Brewing in the heart of Dallas, also offer great venues for a more non-traditional reception (complete with guided beer-tasting!)
For more information on planning your next meeting or event in Dallas, TX, visit www.visitdallas.com/meeting-planners or call our planning partners at 800-232-5527.