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Catering Trends for 2017

James Beard once said, "Food is our common ground, a universal experience," which is why food is almost always served anywhere you have a gathering of any sort. Food has a way of bringing us together. But shared food experiences, like everything else, enjoy trends that keep gatherings interesting. Here are a few that I see making an impact in 2017.

Donuts Are the New Cupcake

Donuts are inexpensive, easy to eat, and universally loved. Gourmet donuts are sliding into the space left by the fading cupcake trend. Colorful, flavorful donut displays make eye-catching buffet features that add interest to any event. Donuts aren't just for those of us with a serious sweet tooth. Savory donut dishes are making a big impact in the event world.

Tiered, Stacked, and Multi-Level Buffets

Gone are the days when buffets were nothing more than rows of chafing dishes. Multi-tiered food displays take up less room, shorten buffet lines, and add visual interest. The key to stacking buffets is to embrace the single-bite trend of 2016, which will still be going strong for some time.

Performance Chefs

Specialty chef demonstrations will be all the rage in 2017. You are probably already incorporating action stations into your buffet plan that includes interaction between guests and chefs. This trend proposes hiring chefs that specialize in performance art cooking. The group below is from Fill R Up Gastro Garage . I saw them at The Special Event in Long Beach this year and they were wonderful. They are also capitalizing on the savory donut trend.

Herbaceous Cocktails

On the back of the mixology trend comes herb and aromatic flavored drinks. You will have seen the trend in its infancy in the form of lemon-thyme or cucumber flavored water of the past few years. At Christmas, the spicy, ginger-heavy Moscow Mule was hot, hot, hot. Incorporating herbed or aromatic cocktails at your event will appeal the most to your millennial groups. Some recipes that you might feature include the Blackberry Mint Julep, a Blueberry Basil Margarita, or a Lemon Thyme Gimlet.

Local Pairings

A lovely mash-up of the Farm-To-Table, Food Pairing, and Small Bite trends brings us Local Food Pairings. Create small bites with local ingredients and pair them local craft brews or distillations. Be sure to inform the staff to emphasize the "local" aspect.

Donuts seem to be showing up again and again in all of these trends and, considering how diverse and obsession worthy the treats can be, I'm hardly surprised that there would be so much cross-over. When it comes to being on-trend with the food at your events, I suggest starting with a small bites, interestingly displayed with a nod to sweet, fried dough.

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