With so many planners needing to keep costs down, caterers are looking for ways to accommodate shrinking budgets—without sacrificing their own standards for taste and presentation. So instead of pushing cheaper foods, some firms are integrating menu items that require minimal effort to set up and serve, and thus keep labor costs low.
"We're playing around with tapas-style [foods]," such as heirloom tomato salad and spiced mixed olives, said Pamela Swisher, director of catering sales at Wolfgang Puck Catering in Chicago. "The tapas is typically served on white square serving platters. As soon as the buffet is set, the chef prepares his backup platter, so it's ready to go. This keeps the buffet replenished without [making guests] wait." Swisher said that she has successfully served this kind of fare at events with more than 350 guests, using only two cooks and minimal front-of-house staff, who "are basically clearing a plate and a fork," she said. "No knives are necessary." Swisher recommends serving the tapas with colorful, biodegradable napkins—a festive touch that curbs linen costs.
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