Service Style Trends

By Meghan Keding, Catering Specialist Coordinator

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Oh, hello! My name is Meghan and I am part of the oh-so-fabulous Together & Company Sales Team (where we claim to sweat sparkles even during the outdoor Summer weddings).

I’ve been here almost four years and started as an intern while finishing up undergrad then jumped on full time a week after graduation – who really needs a break? I can’t complain though since this is an office where I’m not judged for the number of trinkets on my desk and where we have spontaneous wine down Fridays!

Wine Down Friday /wīn - doun - frahy'dey/ (n.)  A day of the week when the office is quiet, clock strikes 4:00pm, and the Together & Company team chooses to consume wine while gathered around someone’s desk (usually the person most resistant to join in). This time allows the team to discuss the highs and the lows of the week and while it decreases productivity, it boosts office morale.

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The main thing that hooked me with this job is its beautiful, ever-changing, organized chaos.If I'd been told four years ago that I’d be limited to selling buffet meals and buffet meals only, I’d be long gone. Fortunately, Together & Company craves innovation and praises uniqueness which drives us as a sales team to want to be different than the norm, to create new culinary experiences and break the molds of the old.

Since I’ve started, the industry has definitely shifted from the more traditional buffets and served meals to more casual and interactive styles of service.

One trend we’re seeing is the shift to heavy hors d’oeuvres and chef active stations for dinner service or even a cocktail hour.

We enjoyed some deLISH hors d'oeuvres at our holiday party at The Kitchen

We enjoyed some deLISH hors d'oeuvres at our holiday party at The Kitchen

That's no science project - that's our live action Ramen Station

That's no science project - that's our live action Ramen Station

This is more casual in the sense that guests eat, grab a drink, dance or mingle, repeat. There's no set time to eat, usually not even seating for everyone (we recommend 50% seated, 50% standing). This style puts an emphasis on movement and interaction throughout the event and allows for a more comfortable environment in my opinion.  The chef active stations are perfect for customization – guests love to know they can have exactly what they want and aren’t limited to one option or variety of an item. In a day full of dietary restrictions, this is key.

Our Budino Station is a BOMB example of this. We serve mini individual custards in glass vessels and seal them with a chocolate disk. Our chefs then pour a hot sauce over top to break the disk. The disk holds for only about 15-20 seconds before breaking and oozing all over them yummy custard goodness.

Another trend is the progressive meal – think miniatures of your favorites all brought out one after the other but together make a complete meal! This is actually the style service we had at The Kitchen for our holiday party.

Start with a gorgeous cheese and charcuterie platter (YUM! This is all I really need for dinner with a glass of wine) for the first hour as guests arrive and grab a drink. Next switch out the apps for individual salads served in little vessels so guests can grab and go. Then it’s time for the main event with a mac and cheese bar paired with mini sliders. Wrap the night up with serving mini parfaits for those with a sweet tooth!

Again, with this service style guests are getting to move, interact and have a variety to pick from so they’ll be happy.  

Pro tip: keep selections to a minimum – too many options mean slower lines. 

I love these two trends since you can use them for both social and corporate events. It’s not going to be the best fit for every event, so it’s important we truly know who our client and their guests are. We like to make sure expectations and needs are met first, before leading our clients into our creative vortex. 

Creative Vortex /krē'ādiv - vôr'teks/ (n.) - A whirling, swirling discussion of creativity that often distracts the Together & Company sales team from their primary tasks at hand to tackle the more exciting world of possibilities for anywhere between 5-20 minutes before returning to reality.