Buffet Stations, Family Style, or Plated Service? This is the question that most venues and catering companies will ask you prior to creating a proposal for you. To help you figure out which style works best for you, we broke it down for you with a pro and con list of each. So the next time you are asked this very question, you will be armed with the best answer possible.
Your catering menu would be served in chafing dishes on a buffet table commonly located on the left, right, or both sides of the room (depending on guest count to minimize traffic flow), where your guests will be directed to help themselves to endless amounts of braised beef cheeks, roasted potatoes & seasonal vegetables. Commonly you will be asked to choose a protein option (typically a beef, chicken, or pork option), a starch option (typically potatoes or rice option), and a vegetable option (typically seasonal vegetables).
Buffet stations are the most cost effective food option and also creates a more relaxed vibe. It will allow your guests to move around rather than sitting around a table for the main entrees to be served. Your guests can control how much they want to eat and what they want to eat.
People tend to be hungry at the same time and tend to rush to the buffet stations once it’s set up. This will cause a long line for a certain period of time and may congest a few parts of the event space.
For parties that involves kids/teenagers since they don’t eat as much and can serve smaller portions for themselves, and is highly recommended for corporate functions.
Well-portioned tapa-style dishes are served on each of your guests’ tables to share amongst each other. This serving style originates from close-knit cultures that come from different sections of the world from the Middle East to Asia to the borders of Europe. Food is typically the center of attention and the physical act of sharing plates with one another is an act of intimacy and kindness.
It creates a more intimate setting and allows your guests to open up conversations with one another at each table. Your guests don't need to wait in line to eat, and they will also get to taste a variety of appetizers along with the main entrees. This is ideal for the foodie crowd. Instead of eating one dish, why not taste all of them?
After the serving dishes have been set on the table, your guests are still required to serve themselves. Also with the amount of dishware, it may take away from your table scape. Dinner service also tends to take up more time from your event.
For larger weddings and family social gatherings. Highly encouraged for those who like variety or don’t know exactly what their guests would like to eat.
Each guest is served individually at each table with a coursed menu. Plated service is typically served in 2-3 courses. The first course is chosen by you which is either a salad or appetizer and is served to all the guests. For the second course, the main entree will be presented and is pre-determined ahead of time by each guest. Your guests will receive 3 different food choices that they will need to choose from on your wedding invite in which they are required to fill out when they RSVP ahead of time. For the third course, dessert is served for your guests to enjoy. For weddings, usually it is your wedding cake.
Plated service provides a formal and classier vibe. The presentation of each plated course is more creative and can encourage your guests to take pictures of the food. Each guest is served their own plated dish rather than sharing or serving themselves.
Plated service is the most expensive of all food service options and it provides limited food options for your guests.
For corporate events, smaller weddings, & small private dinners.
Vertigo's Main Advice:
With any food service that you choose from, if you are looking to impress your guests with the food and not serve the usual chicken, steak, or fish dishes, look for caterers willing to serve dishes outside those lines. Here’s a tip, ask for a chef meet and greet. Most venues and caterers will always accommodate your request to win you over!
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