As the CEO and Sr Executive Chef of Taste of Amazing, I am always looking for innovative menus and services for our clients. In preparing for 2020 and our expansion to Scottsdale, Arizona, we have rolled out more new menus and concepts than ever before in our company history.
Out of all the new catering concepts we introduced for 2020, three have been far-ahead the most popular, representing the service style for 72% of our current corporate events sold.
The Un-Conference for Corporate Events
What I have heard most loudly from our corporate clients (both in Scottsdale and Seattle) is the frustration with traditional conferences and events. What the client wants is for guests and teams to feel excited and engaged - and unfortunately, traditional event models with boring speakers in a hotel conference-room with long buffet lines just haven't delivered - no matter how exciting and delicious the food might be.
Deliver the Sizzle, Not Just the Steak
Serving amazing, delicious, gorgeous food is the given. It's expected that we, as a trusted caterer, will perform at the highest level with menus, presentation and service.
But clients want more than just great food and service. Clients want guests to engage and connect and we have helped them achieve that through menu, service style and venue - and by making our delicious food part of the entertainment.
Trend #1 - Family-Style Service.
Get your teams out of the buffet line and gathered around the table.
I was inspired to roll out this service style after attending a Haute Dokimazo event. The Haute Dokimazo approach is all about turning traditional conferences into creative, fun, unexpected and innovative experiences, which frequently starts with guests gathered around the table for a meal.
For our events, we bring in large, rectangular tables where 10 to 12 guests are seated around each table comfortably. After an hour of passed apps and mingling, guests gather around the tables where our servers bring bowls and platters of gorgeous, delicious food to each table. Guests then pass the food to each other, family style.
What we have seen with this service model is guests interacting across the table, talking, laughing and connecting with each other. There is something special about asking the person across the table to "please pass the potatoes!" It brings warmth and a sense of family, even to corporate families.
This model works with both casual and formal events, as we adjust our service style to match the desired tone. Either way, the simple act of passing food and engaging across the table has proven to bring the one thing traditional models haven't been able to deliver: Human Connection.
Trend #2 - Atypical Venues.
As part of our expansion to the Scottsdale market, we were chosen as an exclusive catering partner for Scottsdale Private Event Venues (SPEV). SPEV is known for its out-of-the-box venue styles - from large airplane hangars to small boutique-style spaces where guests can mingle through amazing collections of cars, art and memorabilia.
Getting guests and teams out of the conference room and into a unique, vibrant setting brings a new level of excitement and engagement. From rock concerts to flying acrobatics to dining among gorgeous Ferrari's and jets, these non-traditional venues offer more than just an entertaining experience - they demonstrate the client's worldview of innovation in action - a powerful message among competitive marketing noise.
Trend #3 - Themed Menus.
Providing event planners and corporate admins with party or event theme ideas is always a welcome creative outlet for me and is typically well-received and appreciated by the clients.
The "Roaring 20's" theme has been our most popular for catering events recently, and we see no stopping this trend for the rest of the year. When clients find out we have a custom Roaring Twenties Catering Menu, we get bookings right away. What makes it such a fun menu is it can be used for Roaring Twenties, Great Gatsby or Speakeasy-style events and delivers a modern twist on classic dishes. For venues, we love the Clive & Janet Cussler space (managed by SPEV), which has a very 'Great Gatsby/speakeasy' vibe with its amazing collection of historic cars and memorabilia, but we have also seen this theme work beautifully in a corporate office setting. The food is delicious, the ambiance exciting and fun - a clear win for any corporate event.
We have several other themed and specialty menus to offer our clients and because of the tremendous response we will continue developing new menus and advancing on this trend.
What about plant-based menu items?
The plant-based food trend is real among grocery stores and restaurants, and I have heard this trend discussed at length at food industry events, but we at Taste of Amazing have not experienced any real demand for this with our catering clients. We have offered it - it just hasn't moved the needle for bookings.
We already offer (and have for years) vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free and other dietary-specific menu items, either as an entire menu or as side offerings for specific guests. We also source locally for produce and premium meats. Perhaps that is why we aren't seeing a specific 'trend' for clients requesting plant-based menus, but it is one that we are keeping our eyes on.
Gail Kurpgeweit is an Author and Public Speaker, with a new cookbook set for publication in Spring 2020 by Brick Tower Press. She also writes industry-specific white papers, articles and opinion pieces relating to the small business, foodservice and hospitality industries.
Her company, Taste of Amazing, has catering operations in Seattle, Washington and Scottsdale, Arizona; and a frozen foods manufacturing division with operations in Montana. Learn more about Gail Kurpgeweit and the services available through her company at www.TasteofAmazing.com
Gail Kurpgeweit is represented by: Alan Morell and Tim Troke firstname.lastname@example.org CREATIVE MANAGEMENT PARTNERS LLC 433 North Camden Drive, 6th Floor Beverly Hills, Ca. 90210 www.creativemanagementpartners.com
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