Top five food and beverage trends for events in 2014

food trends for eventsThe good news – there are more choices than ever when it comes to types of cuisine, menu selections, mixology, artisanal beers, wines pairings, the newest, the latest and the most unique food and beverage trends at your corporate meetings and events.

The bad news – there are more choices than ever when it comes to types of cuisine, menu selections, mixology, artisanal beers – I think you get the point!

With tighter budgets, shorter turnaround periods, less or no staff, how is the effective event planner able to stay on top of it all? To quote a little ditty that we all know and love “we get by with a little help from our friends.” (Thank you John, Paul, Ringo and George!)

That’s where I come in. This column is the first in a series to help you, the busy event planner, to keep on top of all things food and drink. My job takes me to the restaurants, venues, bars, breweries – in fact, to all kinds of places across the GTA, in Vancouver and in more cities to come. I discover those unique and different venues, those passionate chefs and bartenders, those artisanal food and beverage entrepreneurs who deliver up excellence for your corporate dining events and promotional needs.

So let’s start with an overview. Here are the top five food and beverage trends for 2014 and why they matter.

  1. Local, local, local – We are getting more and more conscious about where our food comes from, for our health and the sustainability of our planet. Bringing your group to a venue or using a caterer that sources carefully and locally shows that you care. And get the chef to come talk to your group on this – you’ll see passion in action.
  2. Grazing – Small plates are becoming commonplace. No longer do we just go to Spanish restaurants for tapas. There are bountiful and satisfying small plate offerings, featuring a variety of cuisines that give everyone a delicious tasting experience while filling up even the biggest appetites. And talk about a conversation starter – we all love talking about our favourites.
  3. Bringing our travels home – Making a dining event around an international cuisine makes for an inspired foodcentric evening. We are so fortunate to have the talents of a multitude of international chefs, right in our Canadian backyard. With more and more of us travelling and experiencing the delights of food from around the world, what better way for us to share our experience than over a plate of goat cheese stuffed lamb kebabs with pomegranate reduction.
  4. New make whiskies – New make whiskeys are American whiskeys in their most raw and elemental form before aging. There has been an increase of these types of spirits being released by whiskey distilleries over the past few years. Cutting edge mixologists today are discovering new uses for new make whiskey as a unique and appealing cocktail base. So how does that affect your events? Be on the vanguard – give your group a tutored tasting in the newest of the new mixology methods, and let them take home a few tricks to impress their friends.
  5. Beer – Local, artisanal, micro-brewed paired with food – I could go on. One of my most fun recent experiences involved a beer tasting, led by a delightful and knowledgeable young man, who, like any person passionately obsessed, made me actually LOVE beer! We all had so much fun.

So, if the shoe fits, I hope these ideas inform and inspire you as you create the best dining events for your clients and maybe even for yourself. You deserve that new make whiskey concoction.

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