Catering Trends for Groups

By Beth Buehler

It’s always fun to hear about food trends in the meetings and events industry. Destination Colorado checked in with Lauren Basil, lead event designer for Biscuits & Berries based in Golden, for the latest trends in Colorado catering.

What have been the three or four most standout catering trends for 2019?

We’ve seen an increased interest in out-of-the-box service styles and cuisines this year. There’s less of a desire for traditional buffets and plated dinners, and more of a focus on fun and refreshing catering that surprises and delights guests.

We love creating wedding menus that are unique to our couples by incorporating their favorite foods on different stations or served family-style, allowing for more guest interaction and providing a casual, laid back environment.

A fun way to present a host’s favorite desserts. Photo by Allée Photography.

Corporate events seem to get more exciting and creative by the day, and we’ve had the opportunity and challenge to make their menus equally amazing! Some of our favorite menus this year have included family-style Oaxacan street tacos, Vietnamese pho bars, yellow fin poke cones, and pot pie stations.

Aesthetically, we’ve also seen an increased focus on décor, especially accentuating Colorado’s beautiful natural settings. We’re seeing a shift towards natural, bohemian, soft and romantic elements for weddings and surprising, super-themed aesthetics for corporate events. Our clients have utilized lighting, fabrics and interactive elements this year to make their events even more of an experience!

What do you predict for 2020?

We predict a bigger creativity push coming in 2020. Events are becoming more of a full experience than ever! Each element of our events is critically thought out in order to carry a theme or aesthetic throughout from creative signature cocktails, unique never-before-seen menu offerings, over-the-top decor, and surprising service styles. In recent catering trends, we see a constant desire to do something that’s never been done before, and we’re all about it!

Unique menu offerings, over-the-top decor and surprising service styles are a hit with groups.

What are meeting and event planners looking for when shopping for a caterer? 

Meeting and event planners are looking for true partners. They want to work with a caterer they trust to deliver a superb event every time and who takes initiative to provide creative/fresh ideas. We want our planning partners to shine through our inventiveness, professionalism and consistency. We know that we are an extension of their amazing services and aim to be the best catering partners out there.

Event planners are looking for caterers who provide fresh and creative ideas.

Does Colorado have its own distinct catering trends vs. those in other states/regions of the country? Provide some examples?

Colorado will always be set apart by our amazing natural surroundings. Many of our venues have perfectly captured the beauty of Colorado, and we will always see a desire from our clients to help create “Colorado experiences” for their guests. As a destination location for many weddings and corporate events, the full experience includes themes of mountains, cozy lodges, wildlife and as much of the outdoors as possible. We love creating menus that incorporate local ingredients and aesthetics that blend with how Colorado feels.

Blending in local foods and visual reminders of the destination is definitely on trend. Photo by Allée Photography.

Is farm-to-table still sought after? How about food stations?

Farm-to-table is still quite popular and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Our clients appreciate use of local and organic ingredients and fresh takes on traditional and nontraditional foods. We love blending the farm-to-table feel with different service styles, and with stations being such a big trend, it’s no surprise that our fresh flavors have extended to this service style as well.

Taking a food station to a completely new level.

Are there any specific trends related to decor/food layout or dietary needs?

We continue to research and create new ways to display our food. The way food is served can create an entirely different experience for guests. Rather than a plated or buffet salad, why not display all of the ingredients on rustic shelving and allow guests to explore the fresh ingredients and build their own? People love to play with their food, so let them!

We’ve accommodated a wide range of dietary needs, including providing full vegetarian menus for events. We want to ensure that each and every guest has a great experience and feels taken care of.

An elevated way to present a salad bar.

What about the beverage side?

Beverages are the perfect complement to any menu. We’ve seen a trend toward food and beverage pairings this year, whether it be wines paired with each course of a plated dinner, or mini-cocktails paired and served with appetizers. Our favorite pairings include mini-margaritas served with street tacos and Colorado craft brews paired with local meats.

We also like to surprise guests with creative cocktail flavors or even drinks that smoke with dry ice. The bar is always a hit at any event, so including fun and inventive beverages to compliment our food is a top priority.

How do Colorado caterers like Biscuits and Berries stay current with trends?

The Colorado food scene is highly competitive. In order to stay current with trends, we create them! Our team is constantly researching, imagining and collaborating on fresh new ideas that haven’t been seen in the Colorado market. Our team includes the perfect blend of dreamers and doers to ensure that no idea is too crazy. Rather than looking toward our competitors, we reach beyond to create menu ideas and food displays that are a surprise to everyone.

Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.

Photos: Courtesy Biscuits & Berries.