A La Carte NACE Blog
Fresh ideas and inspiration for your events.

Refreshing Food and Beverage Options to Step Up Your Event

Catering has come a long way in recent years, with innovation and creativity at the forefront. Gone are the days of standard chicken and fish selections; instead, we’re seeing caterers showing their individuality through thoughtful menu creation and inventive food design. By now, this is not a trend — it’s an expectation. Those in our markets are finding inspiration online and coming prepared with ideas that go above and beyond the traditional menu. Food isn’t just sustenance; it’s a culinary experience.

If you’re looking to reenergize your menus and enhance your client’s guest experience through the art of cuisine, you’ve come to the right place. Here are four ways to step up your event with a fresh take on food and beverage.

Dynamic displays

Watch any cooking show and you’ll see points being docked for presentation — it’s that important. Even the most delicious food can seem unpalatable if not displayed in a nice fashion. This concept presents a great opportunity to get creative with how your food is presented. We’re seeing ideas like grazing stations and edible centerpieces transforming the way the market thinks about food. A beautiful spread of food is not just tasty, but it can also serve as décor!

Upscale finger foods

Instead of formal plated dinners, many clients are opting for a more casual and laidback feel. A great way to achieve this is to go with heavy hors d’oeuvres, which leaves the event space open for more mingling and socializing. But, instead of your go-to passed plates, take some classic finger foods and give them a creative reimagining. Even your most popular dishes can be turned into bite-sized innovations with a little design inspiration. Think outside of the toothpicks and mini plates and try out kebab sticks, teacups, shot glasses, or even a carved fruit or vegetable.

Try a new cuisine

There’s nothing like trying something new to pull you out of a routine. If you’re looking to refresh your menu, now may be a great time to experiment with new flavor profiles and elements. If you typically specialize in traditional American-style food, consider playing around with Asian, African, or Latin-inspired dishes. Even if they don’t make the final cut, there’s a good chance your future menu items will be inspired by the culturally-inspired flavors brought about by different spices and ingredients.

Mix up the beverage selection

The bar scene has blown up in recent years and it seems like every brand has their own specialty cocktail. Beverages are a great place to get creative, so take some time to switch up your usual servings — and have fun with it! Try out different combinations of spirits and mixers, then play around with garnishes. A few mint leaves, a grapefruit rind, a few drops of bitters, or a spoonful of muddled raspberries can transform already-tasty cocktails into something special.

If your menu is feeling tired and overdone, it may very well be time to breathe new life into your offerings through creative displays, new ingredients, and a fresh take on flavors.


Clint Elkins is the V.P. of Sales for SB Value, a Group Purchasing Organization that helps culinary professionals save an average of 16% on every food order. Membership is 100% free. No hidden fees. No extra work. Just extra profits. See how much you can save on your next food order when you become an SB Value member. Request a quote today.

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