In the age of COVID-19, event planners and caterers are adapting functions to meet safety protocols and create a less risky environment.
The way caterers view disposable products and party planning, in general, is changing. This enables them to still serve food in a group setting – and get creative with their options.
Here are four tips for catering for a safe event during the pandemic.
1. Provide Individual Portions
Many caterers are offering pre-packed food boxes and individually wrapped single portions to make catered events safer. Instead of dishes served buffet-style or in the traditional manner for grazing, banquet tables are now laid out with boxed meals, pre-packed desserts, and bottled drinks.
Condiments are also available in individual portions, such as mayo packets, ketchup sachets, and packets of salt and pepper.
Having everything pre-packaged doesn’t mean that you can’t get creative with individual portions, though.
Mini charcuterie boards are excellent for serving single portions – you can package and serve them as a meal for one in plastic cups, paper or wooden “Corona Cones”, or mason jars with single-serving bottles of wine.
DIY s’mores kits are also one of the hottest catering trends – you can create a dessert kit with graham crackers, mini chocolate bars, and marshmallows and serve them in a paper takeout container.
2. Provide Single-Use Products
Because limiting contact between guests and staff is paramount, disposable products play a huge role in COVID-safe events. Use single-use catering products that can be tossed out after use, such as disposable cutlery, tableware, and plastic barware.
Using single-use catering products will eliminate the need to haul everything to the dishwasher, which reduces the risk of exposure for all the attendees and servers.
You can also use disposable catering supplies in creative ways by making unique presentations while promoting safety.
Plastic shot glasses and mini food cups are great for serving appetizers, desserts, small salads, and side dishes. Disposable skewers and food picks eliminate utensil sharing because guests can skewer their snacks.
You can use tasting forks and spoons by pre-loading them with morsels and laying them out, or you place small tasting forks on top of small serving bowls so that attendees don’t have to touch any other utensils, and plastic mason jars with lids will protect food from airborne pathogens.
3. Ditch the Buffet
Although self-serve buffet tables have always been used in traditional catering, the safer option is to employ servers to work at serving stations instead.
When there is only one service attendant at each serving station, serving utensils and dishes are only ever being handled by one person. Adding cashier shields at service stations will add another level of safety.
Chef-attended food stations are a fun dining experience, and they can be used for many different dishes. You can get creative with service stations by having the chef prepare ramen, customized with the guest’s favorite toppings.
You can add a creative spin to a traditional pizza station by serving something a little more exotic, like freshly-made, artisanal flatbreads.
4. Host Small Events
More and more caterers are planning micro-events as opposed to large ones. These small gatherings have a limited number of guests, which makes it easier to follow social distancing guidelines. With smaller events, you can arrange seating so that there is more room between guests.
Aside from meeting safety protocols, smaller events also allow caterers to focus more on the smaller details. And with fewer guests, there will be more room in the budget for high-end décor and a more expensive menu.