The New Year has arrived, making this the perfect time to check out the latest wedding catering trends. Whether you manage a restaurant, catering service, food bar, take-out operation, or food truck, here are some of the wedding food trends on the horizon for 2019.
Wedding Food Forecast
Food is at the heart of every wedding, and for 2019 the food forecast is broad, varied, and bright. As more and more couples veer away from strictly traditional ceremonies towards more informal wedding celebrations, it is becoming all about creating an experience that reflects the newlyweds themselves, that caters to the interests of their guests, and that offers edible ‘surprises’.
So, what does this mean for wedding menus? It means that you can expect your customers to be seeking favorite foods, comfort foods, and exotic or unusual eats and treats. From the way the appetizers, main course, and side dishes are presented to jaw-dropping dessert options in never-before-seen shapes, sizes, textures, and flavors, the nature of wedding catering is receiving a modern-day facelift.
For wedding caterers everywhere, this is great news as it gives you the chance to break away from the pack, showcase your culinary creativity and skills, and create a boon in business as word spreads about the topnotch service you provide.
Big Day Menus Go Mini
When it comes to planning a 2019 wedding menu for your customers’ big day, think mini! According to Director of Catering and Conference Services Joy Schmidt, at the Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta Hotel: “I think a big food trend we will see in 2019 will be small plates for wedding dinners….Small plates offer couples an ability to serve a variety of foods that still allow the chef to present in an artistic fashion. Although people enjoy the variety a buffet or stations offer, small plates offer that variety without lacking in presentation.”
Indeed, miniature versions of all food types – and especially comfort foods – have already been making an appearance at wedding receptions, frequently presented in outlandish and head-turning service styles. Sure to create a splash among guests and to generate a stir about your business, contemplate the taste and texture of these miniature offerings: Mac’-and-cheese spoons, mini spinach muffins, bite-sized veggie burgers, soup shots, mini cherry pies and other assorted miniature cakes and pastries, pizza bites, tiny chicken pot pies, mini sweet breads, pancakes on a skewer, finger-size rum-and-coke bottles, and bite-sized versions of just about anything. Thinking out of the box is the name of the game, so put on your chef’s cap, concoct an exciting or interesting dish, and make a mini dish that will make a great first impression.
Wedding Menus Go International
More and more couples are now opting for multi-cultural menus, otherwise known in the ‘biz as fusion menus or global fusion. This trend is especially appealing to newlyweds with diverse ethnic backgrounds who wish to share some of their favorite childhood dishes (from their parents’ home country) with their guests. At the same time, guests are pampered with a unique opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of cuisines they may have never tasted before.
Plant-Based Main Courses and Side Dishes
Main course foods and side dishes that are low in meat but high in protein are another hot-ticket item on 2019 wedding menus. Catering to the expanding population of individuals committed to a plant-based diet – including meat eaters adopting a healthier lifestyle – there is a growing number of delectable recipes and ingredients available for dishes and desserts that are vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Not only will your omnivore guests not miss the meat, but everyone will feel full and be fuelled up for a night on the dance floor.
There is more welcome news for caterers, you can now meet customer demand and satisfy their cravings with groundbreaking recipes that feature lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, pumpkin, squash, yams, and more. So as your cooks and chefs experiment with different textures and flavors to create tomorrow’s next pièce de résistance, here are two exciting plant-based recipes featuring protein-rich quinoa, aka “the king of all grains,” to add to your repertoire:
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 4 diced tomatoes
- 1 cup finely minced fresh parsley
- 1 peeled and chopped cucumber
- 1/3 cup minced fresh mint leaves (optional)
- 1/2 cup finely minced red onion
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 ounces of roasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
- Boil the water in a medium saucepan.
- Add the quinoa, cover, reduce flame to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes or until water has been absorbed.
- Transfer the quinoa to a large mixing bowl and fluff with a fork until grains are separated.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly before transferring to a serving bowl.
- Decorate with some parsley leaves and olives.
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup minced parsley
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 cup minced onions
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1/4 tsp. basil (optional)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil or sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
- In a large bowl, mix the first eight ingredients with a wooden spoon.
- Add just enough flour to hold the mixture together. If the mixture is too dry, add some water.
- With wet hands, form 1-inch thick patties.
- Bake at 180C/350F on both sides until golden brown.
- Top each burger with 1 tsp. of techina (optional).
- Serve with lettuce leaves and/or red onion rings.
- Yield: 8 medium-sized patties.
NOTE: For a more unique style of presentation, bake the quinoa mixture in a muffin tin to form quinoa cupcakes/muffins. Bake at 180°C/400°F for an extra 10 minutes.
Trending: Food Bars and Food Stations
Quickly climbing the popularity charts in wedding catering trends are the proliferation of interactive or do-it-yourself (DIY) food bars and food stations. Replacing traditional plated sit-down meals and buffets or added as a late-night snack, stations such as sushi bars and alcoholic ‘bubbly bars’ are actually manned by a chef or waiter who plates your appetizer, main course, or dessert and offers recommendations of what eats to pair with it.
Other less formal food stations are all about the fun and allowing guests to mingle while they munch or get down on the dance floor. Some popular examples include donut bars or donut towers (an alternative to slicing an elaborate wedding cake) featuring assorted scrumptious options in multiple colors, flavors, shapes and toppings. And you can never go wrong with a popcorn bar, where the smell is always an instant hit and where guests can interact with ‘grab n’ go’ bags in hand.
Wedding Taco Bars
Also defying the norms of tradition is the rise of wedding taco catering! According to foodservice experts, here are some reasons why taco bars are emerging as a wedding favorite:
- Tacos as a snack, main course, or dessert, are universally loved, and with modern flavors now including chicken, beef, steak, shrimp, and straight-up tacos with salsa sauce, there is a taco for every age and taste.
- Tacos are budget friendly. While entrées alone cost an estimated $15-$22 per head, without the expense of utensils, plates, and serving staff which can rack up thousands of dollars for the entire guest list, taco bars will feed your guests for approximately $8-$9 per person!
- Tacos food stations – including specialties such as Taco Salad Bars, Nacho Bars, and Fajita Bars – are the latest ‘late-night snack’ attractions, brought in after the main meal to keep guests fueled up for partying and dancing.
- Taco wedding catering packages typically include not only the paper goods and utensils but also the condiments (such as salsa, hot sauces, onions, lemons, and more) as well as margaritas in crowd-pleasing flavors such as strawberry, daiquiri, pineapple, and watermelon, as well as authentic Mexican drinks such as Mexican Horchata, Agua de Jamaica, and Tamarindo.
- Taco Bars are a creative wedding caterer’s dream as you can mix-and-match flavors and toppings, going either the healthy ‘diet-friendly’ route or indulging your guests all the way. Examples of popular taco wedding menu items include: salsa with sour cream and cream cheese; bowls of steamed Mexican rice served on cool crisp lettuce and topped with spicy black beans; vegan tacos and choco-tacos.
- For a boost to your catering business, stay on top of the competition by throwing in some ‘extras,’ such as taco party favors, barbeque nachos, confetti nachos, mini bags of chips, or take-home miniature hot-sauce bottles.
A Final Expert Wedding Catering Tip for 2019
Deviating from the norm in menu offerings and service styles is clearly an emerging wedding catering trend for the coming year. To help your foodservice business really boom in 2019, here is one last wedding catering tip to please your palate:
As couples are increasingly opting for one-of-a-kind wedding venues that make their Big Day stand out, get ready to become mobile and offer catering services in places as diverse as art galleries, historical buildings, national parks, and outdoor garden areas. Meeting all your customers’ needs and accommodating their demands is a sure-fire recipe for success, so pamper your guests with the culinary adventure of a lifetime – and enjoy the sweet taste and smell of success!