On trend: Food stations
When we think of food stations, it’s easy to imagine old-school hotel buffets or passé dessert bars. But these days, food stations are imaginative, innovative and completely customisable to your event. From fresh oysters shucked to order, to slow-cooked barbecue brisket carved in front of guests, there’s a food station for every event.
There was a time when food stations called to mind sad trays of scrambled eggs and limp pancakes, soggy bircher and dubious-looking breakfast meats. Then came lolly bars at weddings, where the only rule seemed to be that the food had to match a certain colour – it didn’t have to taste delicious or even be on theme for the rest of the event.
But food stations have come a long way. While innovating the food station isn’t exactly new, it’s exciting to see that the concept is always being reworked, which is testimony to food itself, really – aren’t we always pushing the boundaries when it comes to what we eat, and how we eat it?
While food stations were once confined to corporate events and weddings (and yes, hotel buffets), nowadays, you could find them at virtually any type of event. And we’ve seen some amazingly creative food stations out there – a build-your-own crostini bar, complete with toasted sourdough, chargrilled vegetables, fresh artisan cheeses and housemade dips; an ice-cream station with old-school scoops, sprinkles, cones and sauces, and a taco bar – think fresh flour and corn tortillas with spiced chicken and beef, queso fresco, pico de gallo and a mountain of cooling guacamole.
There’s really no limit to what you can do with your own event. If it’s a personal event – a cocktail party for a birthday, for instance, or a wedding, consider including a station inspired by your own favourite food, like a hot dog bar or even a popcorn station with different seasonings (popcorn + smoky bacon salt or white cheddar salt). For corporate events, think about your guests, the time of day and how best to serve them. If it’s breakfast, maybe a personalised granola station would work, with various yoghurts and toppings. For cocktail hour, why not try a knockout cheese & charcuterie station complete with fresh fruit, house-made bread and of course, a selection of cheeses for every palate?
While food stations are mostly about serving your guests delicious food, they also make a visual impact and inject personality into an event. When food stations are clearly customised for an event – a late-night burger bar for a birthday party, for instance, or a coffee-and-doughnut bar at a morning wedding, they offer a real wow factor that show your guests you’ve considered their needs, and want to make this a special experience for them too. You want them to remember how they felt when they were with you. You want them to feel taken care of, inspired… and of course, well-fed.
At The Caterer Sydney, we’re big fans of food stations. We love to dream up new ideas and will always work with you on creating a bespoke station if you know what you’d like. But if you need some inspiration we have some ideas up our sleeves which guests love.
CURED & PICKLED
For a truly special event, offer your guests the very best. Nothing goes better with a glass of champagne than house-cured ocean trout gravlax (we serve ours with finger lime and fennel pollen) on a bed of house made buckwheat crumpets and lashings of crème fraiche, and there’s no beer in the world that can’t be made better with a crostini of smoked Hiramasa kingfish pastrami. We’ll set out heaped bowls of salmon and avruga caviar (or even Beluga, should your budget stretch so far), mussels escabeche and marinated octopus, along with all the accompaniments your guests will need – pickled radishes, sprouted broccoli, pickled fennel and heirloom beetroots.
For an afternoon or evening event, give your guests something a little different with a Spanish tapas-inspired bar. We’ll carve Iberico jamon to order as your guests pile their plates with wedges of crumbly manchego, house made tomato bread and puckish Spanish olives. Take it even a step further with a Spanish sherry bar, where your guests can choose from a selection of Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado and Oloroso sherries, which pair perfectly with our salt cod brandade, pickled sardines, razor clams, and our house made morcilla.
TEXAN BARBECUE STATION
There’s no hotter food trend right now than Texan barbecue. Smoky, slow-cooked beef that falls off the bone, unctuous pork that falls apart with the merest touch – this is comfort food at its very finest. We serve our barbecue with soft white bread, house made barbecue, classic Southern slaw, cooling pickles and traditional potato salad, and we carve everything at the bar, for your guests to see. In the States, everyone has their favourite barbecue joint… and soon, your guests will, too.
BUILD YOUR OWN BOWL
Bliss bowls, grain bowls and poké are everywhere right now, and it’s easy to see the attraction – a bowl of healthy grains, fresh vegetables and delicious toppings makes an excellent meal, no matter the time of day. While we see this food station popping up at corporate events, it would also make a great option for an afternoon picnic-style event. Start with a base of organic brown rice or buckwheat noodles, add salmon crudo, grass-fed beef or marinated tofu, and top your creation with zingy herbs, crunchy edamame, creamy avocado, activated seeds or, for an umami hit, wakame seaweed. Splash a little soy mirin dressing – or yuzu and green chilli, if that’s your jam – on top, and you’ve got a happy customer.
Whatever your event, our team at The Caterer Sydney can make it a spectacle for the senses. Get in touch with us today to discuss interactive food station concepts that will wow your guests and give your event real personality. Contact us on (02) 9693 1444.