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Marrying Food & Event Planning

Millennials, as the main consumer of event services today are shaping not only the present, but the future of our industry. This generation that popularized the foodie culture, invented the concept of photographing each meal and publishing it for all to see, and ushered in the age of the gourmet food truck, interactive food stations and even the highly-themed candy buffet is focused on the event experience—and the menu is integral to it.

In order to design a complete event today, the package must be cohesive. All parts, including the planning and catering, must work together to create a successful event.

Relationships have evolved

There was a time when event planners and caterers could work in isolation. Their domains didn’t crossover as much as they do today. The planner/designer could create an attractive room, and as long as tables existed for the buffet, or plates were available for the food, everything was fine.

It isn’t just an oyster bar because its signage points to coastal restoration. Photo courtesy Josh Williams Photography

The move to experience-based design, however, necessitates a more collaborative approach. Everything from the way that foods are displayed, timed, served, and even identified with specialty signage impacts how well-integrated the event theme will be. Many moving parts make the event planner’s management role critical, and the talent and creativity of the caterer pivotal. When these two jive, the results are magical.

See Emily Sullivan at Catersource! Click here for her session and here for more information on registration.

Cooperation is key

Event planners and designers must work hand-in-hand with catering professionals to make this marriage work. Sharing the colors of the event palette, the theme, overall décor concepts, floor plan, and style helps everyone contribute. Event planners need to optimize communication within their team and with vendors so everyone is on the same page. They must also exercise restraint and diplomacy. For example, a planner shouldn’t rent a specific piece of furniture for the dessert display without looping in the catering team to get input and obtain necessary dimensions, and vice-versa.

The outcomes

When design, planning and catering share responsibility for the experience, the possibilities are endless. Guests not only participate in professional tastings at elaborate custom bars, but also derive greater enjoyment from the little details—the personalized swizzle sticks, the amuses bouche in themed shot glasses, or the escort card display that incorporates a delicious appetizer as an early surprise. None of this is possible unless everyone on the team works together to achieve a new level of cohesiveness … and greatness.

If ultimate events are your goal, invest effort in the intersection of catering services with planning and design. Leverage the talent and creativity of both with great communication and you’ll easily see the elevation of your product along with a positive net effect on client satisfaction.

Registration is now open for Catersource and the Art of Catering Food 2019. Click here for more information or to register.


Emily Sullivan

Owner, Emily Sullivan Events

Emily Sullivan is the owner of Emily Sullivan Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in New Orleans and serving couples everywhere.