13 Must-Know Catering Trends for 2018
January 31st, 2018
Staying abreast of the latest catering trends is important for providing your clients the best, freshest, and most exciting flavours. Move with the times and watch your catering company grow. Stick only with what you know and run the risk of getting lost in the ever expanding catering world.
Every event organiser wants to hire a caterer that people will talk about long after the event. And let’s face it, people talk when they see something new. Whether it’s a completely new ingredient or a classic dish served a unique way, pushing the boundaries while offering high quality food and service will get guests talking.
Looking for inspiration? Check out some of the biggest catering trends for 2018…
1. Experiential catering
One of the biggest things to come out of 2017 was the knowledge that people want to know where their food comes from. Consumers are becoming more aware, educated and conscious about what they are eating, therefore transparency is key to your food service.
With this in mind, 2018 will be the year of experiential catering, in which clients can immerse themselves in the experience of an interactive catering station. Think pasta station, which allows guests to watch as chefs take pasta raw as a semolina mix, extrude it through a pasta machine, cook the pasta and then toss it in a cheese bowl before serving. Or a pizza station, in which guests can choose their own toppings before watching them transform in a hot woodfire oven. Further engage your clients in the process, where guests can create their own sliders and choose from pulled beef, lamb, chicken, mushroom or vegetable curry sliders and a range of toppings and sauces. Basically, look for ways to immerse your clients in the cooking process.
2. Healthy options
The move towards more healthy, wholesome food will continue in 2018 and items like poke bowls and super food slaws will bring colour and vibrancy to both corporate and celebratory events. Healthy catering not only tastes incredible, it looks amazing too. It promises slow release energy and quality brain fuel and using ingredients like brown rice and walnuts, you can release those all important ‘happy hormones’ to make your clients feel good as they eat.
To run with the healthy food trend, think poke bowls, smoothie bowls, edible flowers, fermented foods and plant-based soups.
3. Neo-Nordic cuisine
Nordic influences are now inextricably woven into the restaurant, cafe and catering culture. After all, it’s hard to be disappointed by a menu that includes flavours like fermented rye bread, crispy halibut skin with fresh vegetables, modish cured meats, poached egg cabbage Blanquette and waffles with chanterelles.
Neo-Nordic is all about purity, season, ethics, health, sustainability and quality. It also should be served in beautiful ceramics.
4. Instagrammable items
Positive word of mouth is the best kind of advertising you can have, so the more you can tap into this the better. Include Instagram-worthy elements in your catering menus and watch the social sharing begin.
People love to share the unique and pretty on Instagram, so think charcoal-infused ice cream and hanging macaroons. Instagram has undoubtedly transformed the food industry, so make sure it’s part of your plan for 2018.
5. Root to stem eating
Between nose-to-tail butchery and reducing food waste, root-to-stem cooking has become big news. Making use of the entire fruit or vegetable, foods being served include pickled watermelon rinds, carrot top pesto, fennel frond vinaigrette and sauteed beet greens.
Think about the ingredients you normally toss away and get creative with recipes. Not only will you be serving food that’s bang on trend, it will save you money too!
6. Chaga mushrooms
This recently discovered superfood (that’s actually been around for years) is known for its incredible immune system benefits and for retaining balance. Most importantly, they taste amazing, making them an exciting addition to lots of trendy eateries. Mushroom canapes in general should be popular in 2018, with many caterers offering bites like wild mushrooms with balsamic and thyme, grilled cheese and minty mushrooms, and chaga mushroom tarts.
7. Grazing tables
Grazing tables that allow guests to mingle over rustic bread, local cheeses and a variety of delicious meats and dips will be popular in 2018. The more diverse and colourful, the greater impact your grazing table will have.
The trick to a good grazing table is to not skimp on the good stuff. Sure dragon fruit looks great in terms of presentation, but we guarantee your clients will be clinging to the good cheese and prosciutto. Consider texture too by combining soft and hard cheeses, smooth and coarse crackers, crunchy snacks and melt-in-your mouth magic. Make your grazing plate pop with passionfruit, figs and edible flowers.
8. Food walls
Doughnut and pretzel walls were a big thing in 2017 and it looks set to continue in 2018. The concept takes a classic comfort food and presents it in an unfamiliar way. It’s novel and unexpected, fun and interactive. Who wouldn’t love choosing from a doughnut wall?
9. Native ingredients
Recipes that incorporate local and native plants, herbs and spices are a must for your catering in 2018. Once part of a thriving food culture, it is estimated there are up to 5,000 native food species that were utilised in traditional bush tucker. Think bush tomatoes and tatami apples, mountain peppers, quandongs, macadamia nuts, lemon myrtle, and wattle seed. Combine them with quintessentially Aussie meats like kangaroo, crocodile and emu, or yabbies, swordfish and prawns for best effect.
10. Vegetable-based cocktails
In the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Fourth Annual Culinary and Cocktails Trends Forecast, 91 percent of bartenders said they plan on using vegetables in their cocktails in 2018 – not just as garnishes! Think vegetables like beets, carrots, butternut squash, radish, tomatillos, green beans, asparagus and more. Check out some of these delicious vegetable-infused cocktail recipes, including Gin & Asparagus and Tequila & Avocado creations.
Tacos are a light and crispy snack that everybody loves. Or you can fill them with vegetables, rice, chilli beans, salads and garnishes for the main affair. Versatile, easy to serve, and appealing to all, tacos will continue to be a popular snack station in 2018.
12. Korean food
Another popular food choice that’s continuing into 2018 is Korean food. Think kimchi, soft tofu stew, soy sauce crab, japchae and Korean fried or sweet crispy chicken. Why not try serving up bibimbaps, a Korean lunch-in-a-bowl made of rice, mixed vegetables, beef, egg, sesame oil and a dollop of chilli paste?
Brunch is no longer reserves for lazy weekends and it’s now become a big trend in wedding fayre. Combine your brunch bar with bloody marys and mimosas and you’re onto a winner. Do try to be adventurous, however. Croissants and bagels are great, but coconut pancakes with banana and creme fraiche is better. So are bloody mary baked beans, dukkah-rolled eggs with freekeh and beetroot, and chocolate muesli with warm milk.
Using trends to grow your business
Making it in the catering business requires excellent planning and an ambitious marketing plan. To compete with other caterers you must offer something unique, on trend, or high quality. Decide on memorable food, cook it well and build an online following. Review your food every quarter and mix things up if you see a trend dropping off. Enjoy catering software that makes managing your catering simple, and see your business thrive.