Buffets are surefire ways of guaranteeing there’s something on the menu to please virtually every palate. They’ve long been popular in the foodservice industry with new smorgasbord-style restaurants continually cropping up across the globe. They’re also rapidly becoming the go-to solution for dinner parties.
Turning to a professional caterer like Stamford Catering Services is certainly the easiest way to go for those planning to serve guests a buffet-style meal. If your heart is set on taking the DIY route, though, keeping the following seven rules in mind will help ensure everyone walks away happy.
A Party to Remember: 7 Golden Buffet Catering Rules to Keep in Mind
1) Creating the Menu
Your menu alone can make or break the entire event. Start off by deciding whether to offer cold finger foods, a full-blown hot bar or a combination of the two. From there, keep simplicity and convenience in mind. Choose options that will be easy for guests to serve themselves and not overly messy to finagle into the plates. Also, consider guests’ special dietary needs. Put out at least a few gluten-free items as well as vegetarian and vegan alternatives for those who need them.
2) Set the Stage for Success
Bottlenecks and traffic jams are as common among buffet lines as they are on the interstate. Setting up your buffet in a way that encourages a smooth flow can help combat the problem. Rather than placing stacks of plates at varying intervals, only place them at the beginning of the line. Doing so will help prevent cut-ins and keep traffic moving at a decent pace. Be sure everyone knows exactly where the line starts and ends as well.
At the same time, create separate areas for appetizers, main dishes, and desserts and make sure guests have plenty of room on both sides of the tables to access those foods. If possible, set up a table for drinks that’s completely independent of those for foods to further thwart congestion. Position trash cans well away from tables so those in various stages of the dining process won’t be crashing into one another.
3) Place Food at Varying Heights
Placing foods at different heights goes a long way toward providing easier access to menu items. This can be done in a number of ways, such as turning an empty bowl upside down and setting a tray on top of it. Tiered or raised serving trays work well, too. If space is limited, they can be lifesavers.
4) Keep Utensils at the Tail End
Managing a plate, napkin and eating utensils while dipping into the food isn’t a simple feat. Make things easier for guests by placing napkins and silverware at the end of the buffet instead of at the beginning with the plates. This way, guests don’t have to perform a balancing act while making their way around.
5) Establish Boundaries
Crowds always seem to gather at the wrong places, such as directly in the path of the buffet line. Try to separate the eating and mingling area from the serving stations. Having them in entirely different rooms is ideal, but dedicating opposite sides of a room to each purpose will certainly suffice. Don’t be shy about politely reminding guests to proceed to the dining area once they’ve helped themselves.
6) Rotate Your Stock
When it comes to buffets, foods at the beginning of the line tend to run short much faster than those near the end. Keep an eye on the selection. If you notice some of those front-of-the-line options are running low but those near the end are still in ample supply, switch them out.
7) Take Advantage of Unused Space
Running back and forth to the kitchen to restock plates, cups, napkins, and utensils are exhausting and tend to detract from the amount of time you’re able to spend with guests. Adorn tables with table cloths, and store extra supplies underneath to cut down on the legwork.
All Things Considered
In truth, you really can’t go wrong with a buffet as long as you offer a nice selection of foods and beverages. That being said, strategic placement and smooth flow are crucial to success. Follow these seven tips for your next buffet party, and guests are bound to be pleased with your efforts.