Why Casual Food Can Work at Your Luxury Event

iStock_000011602090Medium (2)As fine dining menus change, so do catering options

What do food trucks have to do with catered events? Their continued, and perhaps to some, surprising popularity demonstrate you don’t need to get great-tasting fare surrounded by classical music, crystal chandeliers, and French-accented wait staff. Folks who form the lines and the return patronage of the food trucks want this food at event tables, too. Forget escargot and think fried chicken.

In the face of the recession, many fine dining establishments have gone the way of the dodo bird. At remaining fine restaurants across the country, patrons are satisfying their discerning palates with casual food choices.

This trend, which some call “Foie Gras to Fritters,” affects the catering business. “Fast casual,” predicted to be a hot trend in 2014, shows no signs of stopping. The term also applies to a surging number of restaurants, including chains such as Smashburger, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, Moe’s Southwest Grill, just to name a few.

The trend among fine eateries and that of restaurant chains come together in catering, where other trends in music, entertainment, fashion, interior design, and architecture have been known to converge, too.

Great-tasting food is the ultimate goal

The common denominator of fast casual, no matter its source: Taste, delivered in food you can’t easily make for yourself at home.

Younger audiences, particularly the millennials—those born from about 1982 to 2004—favor “fast casual.” In the catering world, we’ve seen an increase in demand for easy-to-eat, tasty food, combined with entertainment and top-notch social experience. While the dishes have to meet the quality criterion, the guest want to have fun.

Upscale versions of casual dining fare are now popular catering menu choices:

  • Fritters
  • Haute cuisine hot dogs and burgers
  • Tacos
  • Stir fries
  • Korean barbeque
  • Create-your-own-toppings pizzas
  • Veggie grills
  • Ethnic fusion, such as Latin or Asian 

There’s virtually no limit to the kinds of casual food that can make your event memorable.

Casual dining and social interaction—a great and natural pairing

We often recommend casual choices, because they go naturally with highly-social environments. Guests want to focus on conversation and eat food that’s easy to handle and easy to recognize, served on plates that are easy to hold. A fast-casual approach to a catered event can still include chef stations, buffets, or sit-down served meals. The choice is yours, depending on how much social interaction you want for your event.