Gone are the days in which there were two main hubs for casinos in the United States—Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Also gone are the days when the $4.95 buffet was seen as enticement to spend your money on the tables while eating at low cost. No surprise that it was also low quality.
Today, customers no longer have to bet on whether or not the food will be good at events or restaurants in a casino. The catering and events professionals who work in casinos say gambling is for the casino gaming floors and that guests need not gamble on catering and events experience in the casino world. In speaking with a few casino dining experts across the country, we are seeing many variations in culinary offerings on events. Let’s take a look.
Baltimore, Maryland: Elizabeth Slater, catering sales manager for the Horseshoe Baltimore, says that they are seeing guests rediscover one of the many things Maryland is famous for: oysters.
“With the locally sourced and organic food movement in full swing, the Chesapeake Bay serves as Horseshoe’s own personal fishmonger. With traditionalists sticking to cocktail sauce and a lemon wedge or taking a chance on a mignonette if they are feeling ‘saucy,’ the young and moneyed are in search of a twist,” Slater says.
“Our own Executive Chef Jeffry Oliveri serves a panko fried Chincoteague oyster with an ancho and dark chocolate dipping sauce. The high salinity and slight acidity of the oyster, the crunch of the panko, and sweet heat from the chilis and chocolate, pair perfectly with a medium oaked Chardonnay.”
Omaha, NE and nearby Council Bluffs, IA area: Angie Kistaitis with Caesars Entertainment, says, “comfort foods are ever so popular with events. Mini grilled cheese with shooters of tomato soup comes to mind. Being in the Midwest, farm-to-table is always popular. People want to know the sourcing of their food [and] want to support the local farmers.”
Reno-Tahoe region of Nevada: Kate Patay with Creative Coverings says she is seeing the catering focus shift to a healthier, more environmentally-conscious product. People are concerned with more sustainable options in farming and sourcing their food, and they want to know which ranch their beef came from and also if chemicals were used in the process of growing their food. The farm-to-fork movement has had a huge impact here, starting with restaurants in the region leading the way and moving into the catering field. Even comfort food is healthful now.
In today’s casino world, the options vary depending on the demographic of the group. Restaurants and dining venues are becoming more upscale, while remaining loyal to traditional customers. Patrons will find everything from the standard buffet to the venues that serve the millennials who are very health- and eco-conscious. No matter the group or the occasion, today’s modern casinos are dedicated to creating the experience that will emotionally connect and leave a long lasting memory of the great time they shared.
Linwood Campbell, CPCE, is the President, National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) and Director of Catering Sales, Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, Ohio.