Post COVID Catering Menu Trends

Outdoor catered event

To say that 2020 was a long, lonely year is quite the understatement.  As of June 7th, almost 42% of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  While that means a lessening of restrictions for the vaccinated population, the risk still remains for the 58% who have yet to get their shots.  The good news is with an effective vaccine, we can now start to return to some sense of pre-pandemic normalcy, including gathering with friends, family and co-workers.  With proper planning and proper precautions, you can make this return to entertaining as safely as possible by following these simple tips.

Single-serve menu items are the way to go

Not only can they be beautifully presented, single-serve foods can pack a flavor explosion in a single bite.  Take, for instance, New Orleans caterer Messina’s Catering and Events, which offers a wide array of single-serve catering menu items, such as tomato basil caprese skewers, gourmet grilled cheese squares with tomato bisque shooters, and mini muffulettas. These foods lend themselves well to single-serve presentation and marry layered flavors in a bite or two.  Skewers are a natural vehicle for single-serve items, and can be assembled ahead of time freeing you up to enjoy your company.  Don’t forget to include traditional one-bite wonders on your menu, like oysters, meatballs, deviled eggs, bacon-wrapped figs, crostini, and mini quiches.

Single-serve desserts

Be innovative in how you serve each dish

Mason jars are the idea vehicle for make-ahead salads, single-serve crudités and charcuteries, and desserts.  Better yet, they can be sealed and stacked in coolers before guests arrive, making serving them a breeze.  The container itself can be part of the dish, such as bread bowls, avocado halves, and phyllo dough cups. Shot glasses can be another beautiful way to serve individual portions.  Here’s a fun, interactive idea for a cookout; put a Hershey’s candy bar, marshmallows and some graham crackers in a colorful kerchief that you tie onto a long skewer for individual s’mores kits for dessert.  Likewise, disposal cupcake wrappers are a great way to serve snack mixes, popcorn, and more.  Be sure to include at least one Amuse-Bouche (“mouth amuser” in French) in a fun way like on a soup spoon to tickle your guest’s taste buds for the dishes to come.

Messina's caprese appetizers

Don’t let the fun stop with the “container”!  Have fun with how the containers are presented as well!  Think tiered displays, or items from which the ingredients came.  Serve containers among fresh potted herbs, or maybe on a feature wall.  The only limitation is your imagination.

Messina's bird cage appetizer display

Make sure everything is in easy reach

Set up hand sanitizing stations that are stocked with sanitizer and wipes throughout your event. Have cold drinks available either from the bar, or in large ice tubs so guests don’t have to open a cooler lid to access them.  Have fun with your drink selections. Instead of popping the top of champagne bottles, 187 mL bottles and cans of cava, prosecco, or rose are great alternatives. For a barbecue, you can ice down a wide variety of craft beers from local brewers that would please just about everyone on the guest list with some local stouts, ales and IPAs.

Disposable vs. reusable utensils

This is really a personal preference. Disposable utensils and dishes make clean up easy, but many worry about their environmental impact.  Consider instead bamboo plates and cutlery, which break down quickly in landfills.  If you’re using your own dishes and silverware, place a bin near the trash cans where guests can leave their dishes for you to clean up later.

disposable bamboo dinnerware

Rely on an experienced New Orleans caterer like Messina’s

A full-service caterer like Messina’s can help you plan the perfect single-serve menu that is beautifully presented and satisfying to consume, just like they’ve been doing since 1961. Learn more by visiting MessinasCatering.com.  They’ll help you craft the perfect celebration for ushering back in party time with family and friends.