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Seal the Meal: Guide to Perfect Corporate Meal Catering [Infographic]

Culinary Culture

Event Planning


Planning catering for a corporate event is a big responsibility. Whether it’s an event for co-workers or executives, the last thing you want is to be the person who didn’t order enough food or totally forgot to include vegetarian-friendly options. While unseen circumstances arise, being prepared is key to executing a successful corporate meal. Take a look at the following infographic from Blue Plate Chicago for some tips on planning a catered event, as well as some sample meals that are perfect for different scenarios.

Planning Tips Graphic of: a red circle with a line through it over a peanut, an egg, a carton of milk, and a wheat stalk; as well as a black circle around a green 'V' with a leaf attached and a black 'K'. Find out about any dietary restrictions ahead of time: Allergies, vegetarian/vegan, religious beliefs, gluten-free, dairy free. Graphic of: an hour glass with sand passing through it, the word 'or', and a stop watch. Match the menu to the purpose of the meal: Are people watching a presentation or working at a conference table? How much do they have to eat? Graphic of: three bottles of salad dressing, two ice cream desserts, three pitchers of different colored beverages, and three dishes, each with a cover over each. Offer options and be sure to include seasonal or locally grown items. A good rule of thumb is 2-3 entrées, 3+ salad dressings, 2+ desserts, and 3+ beverages. Graphic of: a martini glass, a glass of wine, and a pint of beer. Beware of booze: You don't want to send the wrong message to clients - literally or figuratively. Celebratory events within your company are a safer bet for serving alcohol.
Sealing the Deal: Lots of close, face-to-face talking, so avoid food that could get stuck in people's teeth or make their breath stink. The Scenario: You have to hammer out a deal over breakfast before the client leaves to catch a flight. Best Bet: Breakfast sandwiches and snacks. Serve food that's easy to handle and won't distract from the conversation. Illustration of a dining table with labeled dishes: Ham & Egg Breakfast Sandwich; Blueberry Muffin; Veggie Option: Grilled Tomato Panini; Seasonal Fruit; and Food to Avoid: Smoked Salmon Bagel Sandwich.
Power Lunch: Provide choices that are as mobile as your team so they can keep working while they eat. The Scenario: Your team is brainstorming ideas for a big campaign. They've hit their creative stride, but everyone's getting hungry. Best Bet: Keep the creative juices flowing with all-in-one boxed lunches. Illustration of a conference room with labeled dishes: Zesty Italian Sandwich; Veggie Option: Caprese Wrap; Potato Chips; Garden Side Salad (with dressing on the side); Chocolate Chip Cookie; and Inspire the team with fun desserts. Maybe cake lollipops?
Celebrating a Win: Provide plenty of options for people to mix and match and keep coming back for more. The Scenario: Your company has hit a major milestone and it's time to celebrate! Best Bet: Thank your employees for their hard work with a hot buffet, celebratory drinks, and a cake to top it off. Illustration of an office buffet with labeled dishes: Grilled Mediterranean Kabobs; Seasonal Fruit; Cheese Enchiladas; Baked Potato Bar; Seasonal Veggies; Spinach & Portobello Mushroom Lasagna; Corporate Logo Shortbread Cookies; and Chocolate Cake.
Party Time: A good mix of finger-foods that are filling but not too messy. No one wants to put their new dress in the line of fire. The Scenario: Ugly sweaters, photo booth shenanigans, drinks and tipsy dancing - it's the annual rite of passage that is the office holiday party. Best Bet: Keep people well-fed with hors d'oeuvres and desserts so the festivities don't get too wild. Illustration of a party buffet with labeled dishes: Beef Carpaccio Crostini; Chicken Empanadas; Veggie Option: Feta-Cheese Stuffed Artichoke; Crab Rolls; Bacon-Wrapped Dates; Mini-Cupcakes; and Holiday Shortbread Cookies.
The Big Wigs: Keep the dishes fairly traditional. Older executives might not be into anything too spicy or exotic. The Scenario: You're hosting the quarterly board meeting. There's a lot to discuss, but they want to take their time over a good meal. Best Bet: A hot buffet with one or two main, healthy entrees. Illustration of a boardroom buffet with labeled dishes: Chicken Saltimbocca; Veggie Option: Spinach & ricotta Baked Shells; Herb-roasted Potatoes; Garlic Broccolini; Breadsticks; Caesar Salad; Garden Salad; and Tiramisu. A good caterer can help you plan your corporate event to perfection. While there's a lot that goes into planning, it's ultimately about the food and good food makes happy people.