5 Tips for Outdoor Catering in the Summertime Heat

The summertime heat is upon us. However, we don’t want that to stop us from enjoying outdoor garden parties and events! Extra care just needs to be taken in the event planning stages choose the right catering menu, the right venue, and the right layout. Additional care also has to be taken to monitor food safety in the heat. Messina’s Catering and Events shares their tips for planning successful summertime outdoor events.

Catering

Have a Contingency Plan

First step in planning any successful event is choosing the perfect venue. When it comes to outdoor venues, options can include rooftop decks, courtyards, backyard gardens, parks or the beach. All of these can make for beautiful backdrops to a great event, however be sure to prepare for weather! Summertime weather can be unpredictable. Rainstorms can come in quickly and be strong. Therefore, contingency plans should be set ahead of time to ensure the party goes on regardless of what mother nature brings. If your venue is a rooftop deck, ensure it has a covered or indoor portion. For parks or the beach, rent a large special event tent. For courtyards or backyard gardens, see if the party could be moved indoors for weather.

Choose the Right Catering Menu

Choosing the right catering menu to compliment your outdoor event in the summer is key. Think fresh and seasonal. Think light and less-filling. We all know that feeling after eating a big meal. Try to achieve the exact opposite of that when designing a cool summertime menu. Fresh from the grill meats and vegetables are great for passing. You can’t go wrong with dishes like salads, gazpachos, grilled vegetables and oil-based dressings. Focus on small bites such as kebabs or “lollipops” of meat. Pair seafood with fresh fruit salsas and chutneys. Your caterer should be able to help guide you in the best menu options for your event.

Make Food Safety Your #1 Priority

Food safety should be top priority at all events, but especially those that involve high heat like outdoor events.  Care should be given to choose a catering menu that’s conduce to the event.  Most of us know that a raw sushi bar at an outdoor summertime event probably isn’t the best idea.  Steer clear of raw seafood.  Steer clear of heavy mayonnaise, egg and dairy-based dishes.  Choose a format besides buffet-style, so that foods are not sitting out.  Passed foods are most ideal.  Action stations are great because the attendant can ensure cold food stays cold, and is only brought out for preparation.  Buffet-style foods can be done, but special care has to be taken to put out smaller portions of food, monitor food temps closely and frequently refresh foods.  Professional caterers, like Messina’s Catering and Events, are skilled at preparing and serving food for outdoor events to ensure safety.

Strategically Setup your Venue & Stations

Be sure to carefully plan your venue’s layout prior to the event.  Plan to setup food stations and bars in spaces out of direct heat and sunlight.  It’s best to plan for bars and food to be under a tent or in the shade.  Consider placing food indoors if possible.  Keeping food and drink stations out of the heat ensures that not only the staff, but also guests visiting the food stations are comfortable.

Also, be sure to plan your food displays in a way that ensures food temps stay where they should be.  Utilize marble and granite serving pieces that can be frozen ahead of time to keep food optimally chilled.  Not only does it look great, it helps keeps food at proper temperatures longer.  Another option is to fill trays with ice to place under buffet dishes.  This will keep your green salad crisp and your cheese plate looking fresh!  And, serve canned and bottled beverages from an ice trough to ensure they are at their chilliest.  The best caterers are equipped with serving dishes that help maintain food temperature.

Ensure Guest Comfort

Be sure to have plenty of water on hand and plan for a hydration station for guests with flavored waters.  Consider providing guests with favors such as mini-misters, or hand fans to use as they mill about to keep cool.  Or consider large misters to keep guests cool.  Fans and misters can also help keep bugs at bay.  Ensure your guests are the only guests at your party, and place citronella candles strategically throughout the space.

Taking the right precautions can ensure your outdoor event is one guests will rave about for weeks to come.  With proper planning, and trusted partners, hosting a successful event even on the hottest of days can be a success!

Messina’s Catering and Events would love to host your next summer party!  We have the experience and equipment at the ready to keep outdoor food fresh, beautiful and safe.  We have been catering some of the most prominent outdoor events in the New Orleans area including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Creole Tomato Festival.  This year, we are celebrating 58 years of providing full service catering.