Small Plates, Big Statements

You may recall our post two weeks ago about catering requests you may encounter this fall. One of the bigger catering trends you may be noticing this season from weddings and corporate events is the request for small plates. No longer do brides and grooms or event coordinators want simple snacks to tide their guests over during cocktail hour. Oh, no. They are looking for more unique mini dishes. Some are even replacing dinners with multiple small plates. You might be asking yourself, “why would people want to offer small plates over entire meals?” There are two good reasons: money and mobility.

First, money. You can expect that couples (or even companies) skipping out on serving a full meal are a little tighter on cash. Couples may be paying for the wedding themselves and may have decided that their money will be put to good use in a down payment on a house. Companies may be thinking their employees would prefer a little holiday bonus over an extravagant dinner. Either way, people are still looking for delicious food, as hors d’oeuvres or as a meal, to serve to their guests. That doesn’t mean that your options are limited as a caterer, though. You just get to show off your style and specialties in bite sized portions. Everything can be pared down to a bite size sampling; even soup. Take a look these soup serving spoons from Loverly. All the goodness of a bowl in one bite!

Soup Spoons

Photo Credit: Steve Steinhardt on Inspired By This via Loverly

As you can see from our soup example people not only want small plates, they want them to be beautiful and enticing. This means you might have to get a little creative with your serving dishes, or lack thereof. The best kind of small plates are actually the ones that require no plates at all. This allows guests to have more mobility and keep their hands free for cocktails and greeting one another. In the end, serving foods that require little to no dishware will save you some clean up as well. Anything on a skewer (shrimp, meatballs, chicken) makes a great no-dish dish. One of the best no-dish foods we’ve seen are these bacon cups from Bon Appétit. Because who doesn’t love a bacon cup?!

bacon cups

Photo copyright (C) 2011 by Con Poulos via Bon Appétit

Creating multiple small plates, especially if they are serving as the main meal, means you will have a few more bits and pieces to coordinate. If you aren’t used to planning in such precious detail, catering a small plate focused event may be more difficult than you are used to. The key is to stay organized. We suggest using Total Party Planner catering software, of course. But, there are other ways to keep your small plate events in order. Just be sure to have enough ingredients to make your multiple bite-sized dishes.

What small plates are you whipping up for your Fall and Holiday events?