Each year the National Restaurant Association surveys nearly 1,600 professional chefs to determine which food, cuisines, beverages and culinary themes will be hot trends in the year ahead. We always enjoy looking over these; often trends in restaurants will drive future event menus.
We've combed through some of the trends below and added our thoughts on how we can incorporate them for wedding and event catering.
Trend: Locally Sourced Meats and Seafood, Locally Grown Produce, and Farm/Estate Branded Items
With an increased emphasis these days on supporting your local business and shopping "small", it is not surprising that food fits right into this. In Tampa there are many farms and markets that are open to the public.
At one of the events we catered this year, we incorporated local items into each course. This included locally farmed pork for the hors d'oeuvres, Gulf of Mexico seafood for the soup and entree course, and locally grown vegetables and strawberries utilized in each course. Pictured below is the entree course with locally caught Cobia.
One of the difficulties in incorporating this trend into catered events is in the planning. Most events are planned months in advance and we never know what product will be available come event time. A farm might have run out of their supply or had a bad crop for the season. Demand might be high or supply low, adding a lot of costs to particular items, as well.
We suggest being very flexible with your menu or adding a few meaningful local ingredients. For example, in Tampa we are blessed with local Plant City Strawberries in the spring each year. This would be a great local item to add to a menu during the hors d'oeuvres, salad, or dessert course. It also does not depend on a single local farm to produce, there are many options available. Pictured below is our Strawberry Festival Garden Cart with hors d'oeuvres featuring strawberries.
Trend: Ethnic Condiments and Spices
Think Sriracha, Chimichurri, Peri Peri, and more. These flavors kick up food a notch and add to menu interest and creativity.
For event catering, serving a single choice plated entree ladled with spicy sriracha might not be the best idea. Instead, we suggest incorporating ethnic condiments and spices in hors d'oeuvres or at stations.
Here are a few menu items we serve to try at your next event.
Sriracha-Wasabi Deviled Eggs Finished with 5 Spice Powder
Grilled Mahi Taco with Sriacha Candied Bacon, Papaya Slaw and Ginger Emulsion
Seared Beef Tenderloin on Fresh French Bread Rounds with Chimichurri
Chilled Asian Noodle Bar Station
Chilled Asian Ramen Noodle Salad with Purple and Napa Cabbage, Tri-Color Pepper Julienne, Bean Sprouts, Chopped Scallions and Sliced Cucumber tossed in a Ginger-Sesame Vinaigrette. Topped with Fresh Cilantro Leaves, Chopped Roasted Peanuts, Sriracha-Black Garlic Shrimp Satay and Fresh Lime Wedge
Trend: Street Food
Street food continues to be a trend and for good reason. Most items are packed with flavor, easy to eat, and overall fun! This can be translated to events very easily through chef attended action stations.
Gourmet Slider Bar
All Natural, Hand Formed Turkey Sliders, Black Angus Beef Sliders and Crab Cake Sliders with a Toppings Bar of Arugula, Field Greens, Caramelized Onions, Sliced Roma Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic Aioli, Chipotle Aioli and Spicy Sriracha Ketchup
Kebab and Satay Station
Marinated Mini Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Onions & Peppers, Brushed with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Lemon Juice Chili and Coconut Milk Marinated Chicken Satay with a Peanut-Coconut Dipping Sauce. Both are grilled table side with an Almond-Scented Basmati Rice.
Yucatan Taco Bar
Guests "Belly Up" to a Dried Bean Covered Bar, Nosh on Plantain Chips with Mango Salsa and served tacos to include:
Vietnamese Smoked Chicken, Pickled Carrot-Jalapeno-Daikon Slaw, Creamy Duckonnaise and Fresh Cilantro
Korean BBQ Short Ribs with Cabbage-Scallion Slaw and Citrus Soy-Sriracha Vinaigrette
To read more about restaurant trends, see the report at http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/News-Research/WhatsHot2016