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Messina's catering individual servings

Catering Trend: What’s New in Individual Servings

While COVID may seem to be in the rear-view mirror as more and more people get their first, second, third, and even fourth vaccines and the infection and hospitalization rates continue to decline, some of its side effects are here to stay for a long time. That includes individual servings on catering menus, a trend that peaked in 2021 at catered events thrown in private homes and outdoor venues.

Individually plated food, or bite-size portions, is revolutionizing catering menus worldwide. Not only are large communal displays giving way to individual plates, boats, cones, and other individual serving vessels, but buffets are now often replaced with pre-plated servings of the main course. At Messina’s Catering & Events, we embrace this trend and find individual servings an excellent vehicle for creativity.

catering individual servings

Individual servings Allow Us to Rethink How We Serve Traditional Dishes

For instance, a few spears of romaine and some breadsticks in a champagne flute is a fun way to display a Caesar salad. Individual charcuterie trays are also a popular catering menu item, as are shooters for everything from soups to desserts.

Shake and eat dishes in mason jars is another fun and interactive way to serve individual portions of dishes like mushroom risotto or strawberry-feta salad. There’s a trend called Jarcuterie, which is an artfully-designed, mini version of the beloved charcuterie board that fits snugly into a jar.

Sushi Flights and Caviar Tastings Are on the Rise

Sushi lends itself beautifully to individual servings. You know how fun beer flights are; now picture sushi flights! Imagine a beautifully plated presentation of Nigiri, which features traditional Japanese sushi such as salmon topped with fresh roe or pink tuna with sherry ponzu. The flavor combinations are virtually endless and are visually stunning.

sushi flights

Caviar tastings are another rising trend on catering menus. For a taste of New Orleans, try Cajun Caviar®. It’s hand-harvested from the Choupique fish of the fresh waters of the Atchafalaya Basin. ( Artisanal American caviar is also gaining popularity and pairs delightfully with champagne, fine white, and hearty red wines. American varieties of caviar include white sturgeon caviar, paddlefish caviar, bowfin caviar, salmon caviar, trout caviar, and lumpfish caviar. Individual jars of caviar can be served in a small bowl over a bed of ice, accompanied by an individual tray with chopped boiled egg, crackers, crostinis, diced purple onions, soft cheese, and a lemon half. It makes for a memorable and tasty presentation.

Think Outside the Box

A piece of celery or endive can provide an edible dish for everything from our lump crabmeat canape to roasted duck. Skewers are a natural choice for individual servings. We use them for many of our catering menu items, including antipasto skewers of mini fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, Kalamata olives, and chipotle chicken, as well as roasted corn. Any meat and vegetable creation can be skewered for efficient, hands-free serving.

roasted corn skewers

Single-Serve Options Have Been Around for a Long Time

Canapés have been on our catering menus for decades, and for a good reason. They are individual bites of deliciousness served on a small piece of bread, crackers, or pastries, making for great grab-and-go options. We use this method as the ideal vehicle for catered dishes like our lump crab meat canapé, Louisiana shrimp canapé, and duck confit.

Sliders naturally lend themselves to individual, entirely edible bites. We serve everything from beef short ribs to pulled pork to cheeseburgers in miniature versions, likewise for our famous Chef Leon’s house-made crawfish pie, which can be easily baked in single-serve portions that make a stunning and tasteful presentation.

Shooters, martini glasses, teacups, mason jars, and small plates can turn any catering menu item into tapas-style serving. Single-serve skillets provide a unique presentation for pies.

More miniature cakes for decoration only grace the tables of individual slices guests can take to their seats when they’re ready to satisfy their sweet tooth.

oyster shooters

Despite the Move Toward Individual Servings, Chef Action Stations Are Making a Comeback

Carving stations are an excellent option for full-service where individual portions are served. Our seafood action station remains a big hit on many of our catering menus and includes Louisiana BBQ shrimp and grits served in a martini glass or crabmeat tortellini with a rich Creole cream sauce. Our Ahi tuna carving station is another popular action station, where our chef plates freshly sliced ahi tuna sided with fried wontons, Asian crackers, assorted sauces, and mango salsa. Prime rib, pepper, pecan-crusted pork loin, and Abita root beer glazed Chisesi ham carving stations are also perennial favorites.

Craft Cocktails and Mocktails Are Also Being Served in Individual Sizes

From mini bottles of champagne to non-alcoholic beverages, we’re seeing more and more pre-packaged, individually portioned options that are as fun to drink as they are pretty to serve. Margaritas, mojitos, bloody Marys, and whiskey sours all lend themselves to single-serve options, as do other craft cocktails. They can often be concocted fresh upon request, adding another fun element to an entertaining event. Mocktails made with herb-infused non-alcoholic spirits, like those made by Seedlip, are tasty non-boozy alternatives.

Messina’s Catering & Events Are Masters of Individual-Serve Catering Menus

Single-serve options allow Messina’s chefs to perfectly and proportionate pair ingredients, so guests get the exact balance of any dish in a bite-size version. We’ve been serving up menu options like sliders, oyster shooters, and mini desserts since our founding 61 years ago. Together, we can develop the catering menu and the single-serve presentations that will make a lasting impression. To learn more, visit

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