The summer event season doesn’t mean you have to toss out your menu completely and begin anew, but can actually give you the creative freedom to try new ingredients that can brighten up a fan favorite. With re-emerging seasonal fruits and vegetables, warm weather, and cold beverages, it can be easy to elevate your client’s event with a few colorful touches that guests will love.

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What’s trending

Clients and guests alike love to immerse themselves in the season, especially with the atmosphere of an outdoor event.

One of the hottest trends when crafting dishes is by incorporating the color palette of the event into the guests’ food. For example, a salsa compromised of fun hues with various veggies and herbs can be a great addition to one of your existing signature meals. Color coordination is a key element that really draws the eye, and your clients will love you for the attention to detail.

Outdoor Event Catering Trends

Photo Credit: Sunshower Photography

Summer serving styles

Outdoor catering opens the floor for some great nostalgia, considering picnics and cookouts at the top of the list depending on the formality of your event. Some frequent styles that are requested include family-style passed plates and buffet setups.

However, the one thing to be especially mindful of with the renewed popularity of outdoor events is that the summer heat can make or break your catering plan. Take precautions to safeguard your food against spoiling, melting, or attracting bugs – the last thing you want is for your guests to get sick, and insects can be extremely off-putting. Make sure that you’re serving your dishes promptly and keeping items as cool as possible when necessary. In this case, some serving styles may not be totally wise on extra hot days where the food is sitting out for an extended period of time.

Regionally speaking, you may even find that your client’s preferred setup (even cuisine) differs based on location. For example, when we think of catering for Southern outdoor events, one of the first things that comes to mind is a BBQ or cookout theme. This type of gathering has a certain look and palate that a more formal, sit-down dinner at a vineyard may not. Follow the client’s lead when designing meals based on the vibe of the event, and be sure to pay attention to popular foods in the area to add some local flair.

Outdoor Event Catering Trends

Photo Credit: Charlotte Wedding Photography

Tips for your outdoor catering floorplan

As caterers, we understand that new menu items and outdoor food setups can be great in theory, but if you don’t have a well-organized floorplan or accessible venue, it can cause some logistical issues. We recommend working closely with other vendors and even touring the event space beforehand so that you can come well-prepared on the day of the event.

Not only is it important that you take guest foot traffic into consideration, but it’s crucial that you know exactly where you can set up your station (even if that means preparing the food inside and serving outside). Regardless of your menu, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have access to both water and electricity at the very least!

Catering a summer event can help you exercise your culinary skills and introduce some vibrancy to your client’s menu. As long as you remember the caveats that come with high temperatures, you’ll be well-equipped to pull off the perfect outdoor soiree!

Photo Credit: Jenny DeMarco Photography

Articles of Interest:

Catering Trends To Wow Event Guests

Why You Should Consider The Event Food Before Creating Event Layout

Clint Elkins is the VP of Sales at SB Value, a group purchasing program designed to reduce catering, kitchen and food-service costs by leveraging the collective buying power of thousands of companies.

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