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Need Advice for a Catering Event


kimberli9
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My new-ish (10 months) restaurant has been invited to participate in a local, annual charity event, where restaurants are paired up with beverage distributors for an evening of food and wine sampling. The other restaurants that participate are the "big fish" in the area, and most of them have been doing it for years, so this is kind of a big deal for us. (there are about 10-12 restaurants invited each year) I'm paired up with a great bev guy, so my table is going to have six amazing wines. Now, the onus is on me to figure out what the heck to cook.

I've got it in my head that I want to do traditional, honest-to-god French canapes. I have seen the descriptions of what everyone has done the last couple years, and it's all pretty much the same kind of new-American-esque, small bite food that you see everywhere. And damnit, I want to be different.

So is this a good idea, or a bad idea? I'm in the exurbs of the heartland, so I don't want to do anything too "out there," or not enough people will brave my offerings. My restaurant is an Italian-themed steak house, so I understand this is a bit of an anomaly, but we do a lot of catering events in all styles of food.

This is an amazing opportunity for me to get exposure for the restaurant and for our catering endeavor, and I just want to do the right thing (well, and something stellar and amazing and memorable and...)

help? :unsure:

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I've been to a lot of these events.

Best bites have loads of flavor and are easy to eat in a single bite. A little pastry cup filled with a delicious tidbit (goat cheese and sweet onion), a mini slider with seared fish, a clever combination of items that create something greater than the parts (cured salmon with peach and plum chutney), a refreshing small cup of salad (roasted lamb with green beans, onions, and citrus dressing.) Of course, there was the whole suckling pig.

Worst thing ever was not completely hot fois gras on a stick, covered in freshly made cotton candy. Gag me. Not fond of cups of too rich soup either - way too many chilled potato leek soups.

If you go traditional French - make them very pretty - no brown blobs of questionable origin!

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My new-ish (10 months) restaurant has been invited to participate in a local, annual charity event, where restaurants are paired up with beverage distributors for an evening of food and wine sampling.  The other restaurants that participate are the "big fish" in the area, and most of them have been doing it for years, so this is kind of a big deal for us.  (there are about 10-12 restaurants invited each year)  I'm paired up with a great bev guy, so my table is going to have six amazing wines.  Now, the onus is on me to figure out what the heck to cook.

I've got it in my head that I want to do traditional, honest-to-god French canapes.  I have seen the descriptions of what everyone has done the last couple years, and it's all pretty much the same kind of new-American-esque, small bite food that you see everywhere.  And damnit, I want to be different.

So is this a good idea, or a bad idea?  I'm in the exurbs of the heartland, so I don't want to do anything too "out there," or not enough people will brave my offerings.  My restaurant is an Italian-themed steak house, so I understand this is a bit of an anomaly, but we do a lot of catering events in all styles of food. 

This is an amazing opportunity for me to get exposure for the restaurant and for our catering endeavor, and I just want to do the right thing (well, and something stellar and amazing and memorable and...)

help?    :unsure:

I've done dozens of events like this over theyears.My biggest tip: Don't stray too far from what your restaurant normally does; people will expect that next time they come to your place. You don't want people to ask about the mussels or whatever that they had at that catering event. And keep it simple and big flavors - bisteca alla fiorentina, threaded onto skewers, for example. Bite size.

"A culture's appetite always springs from its poor" - John Thorne

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I'm paired up with a great bev guy, so my table is going to have six amazing wines.  Now, the onus is on me to figure out what the heck to cook.

Is he giving you six specific wines or do you get to choose them. The food ingredients definitely need to be matched up to the wine to get the optimum flavor benefit.

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They are specified. We have a Cotes du Rhone, a Barbera, a French Rose, a Russian River Zin, a Paso Robles Cab, a Petite Sirah, and a California red blend.

That was one of my motivating factors for wanting to do canapes, because I could do six different ones to pair with the wines.

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They are specified.  We have a Cotes du Rhone, a Barbera, a French Rose, a Russian River Zin, a Paso Robles Cab, a Petite Sirah, and a California red blend. 

That was one of my motivating factors for wanting to do canapes, because I could do six different ones to pair with the wines.

Have you been able to sample the wines? It would be nice if some of the canapes paired well with more than one wine to show not only the versatility of the wines, but also of you as a chef.

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I've done dozens of events like this over theyears.My biggest tip:  Don't stray too far from what your restaurant normally does; people will expect that next time they come to your place. You don't want people to ask about the mussels or whatever that they had at that catering event.  And keep it simple and big flavors - bisteca alla fiorentina, threaded onto skewers, for example. Bite size.

I agree. Unless your catering aspect is distinct from your restaurant, I think it's sort of confusing to be serving something your restaurant will never have.

That said, serving things that are in the same "genre" as your restaurant, but pack more of a one-bite punch might work. For example, instead of just a piece of steak, maybe a steak ravioli with a nice sauce. Just something that fits the canape concept without breaking out of the borders of your restaurant.

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Agree that you should have items that will be available at your restaurant. I've specifically gone to new restaurants after tasting items at events like this that wowed me. One that comes to mind was a golf course restaurant that had really delicious food, and one item stood out, an oversized shrimp in a coconut batter...a fairly typical item, but they gave it a wow factor by using enormous shrimp and have a tasty dipping sauce on the side.

Good luck, sounds like a great way to showcase your food!

:) Pam

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