It’s hard to pinpoint when food stations became a popular fixture across the event and catering industry, but what we do know is that this hot trend isn’t going anywhere soon.
On the contrary, these live culinary showcases are in high demand. We regularly see clients requesting a food station for their event—be it a wedding, corporate function, social party or other affair. But rather than just including any old food station, people are looking to use these live-action spectacles to add some unique, customized flare to their party.
First point: Because they’re awesome! Besides that, food stations offer a break from the catering norm. They give hosts an opportunity to add a touch of personalized creativity to their event in an affordable way. They can also be designed to suit virtually any taste, dietary need or preference. That could come in the form of a vegetarian sushi station, for example, or a fun fusion pasta station.
Case in point: we debuted our Smoked Pasta Cacio e Pepe dish—flambéed with brandy and tossed in a giant wheel of Parmesan cheese—at this year’s Toronto Catering Showcase with a very distinctive food station. The dish was served in a parmesan frico bowl and was a massive hit. So much parm—so delicious! Besides all the cheesy goodness, what really drew attention was the fact that our chefs prepared the dish in that huge cheese wheel. No one in attendance had seen it done before, so it became an instant draw.
It’s all part of a culinary movement towards experiential cooking. That might be driven at least in part by the plethora of cooking shows that have elevated otherwise obscure chefs into international celebrities. Cooking has become entertainment. When we recently put together a mashed potato ‘martini’ station for a corporate anniversary, onlookers marveled at the sight of a gravy-and-potato-filled cocktail glass, built right before their eyes, then finished with a build-your-own buffet of toppings such as braised beef short ribs, caramelized onions, aged cheddar, hickory smoked slab bacon and much, much more. The reactions were priceless!
And we can’t forget the practical benefits.
Food stations can be rolled out over the course of an event, for appetizers, main courses or desserts, for example. They tend to be more social, allowing guests to mingle, enjoy the show and sample more diverse items. They’re also helpful when trying to offer an eclectic menu selection because food stations allow guests to sample various dishes. Looking to give your event an international street food theme?
Food stations allow you to put a modern spin on traditional or international dishes from around the world, then fuse them together for an amazing culinary adventure. When we wanted to put our own signature on Asian noodles at last year’s Toronto Catering Showcase, we enlisted the help of our friends at Magic Noodle. We put together a food station that featured a noodle-master making hand-pulled lamian (noodles)—it was a showstopper!—with an Italian flavour profile. The result was a Miso Pasta Carbonara that was as tempting for its delicious umami taste as it was for the spectacle of its preparation. The dish caught so much hype it was featured in Wedding Bells 2017 Trends issue, and was the most read article on weddingbells.ca.
What we’ve found is that people love the face-to-face interaction with our chefs. To them, a food station is like watching a live cooking show where they get to ask the chefs questions, understand their passion for food and form the kind of bond that should be the natural by-product whenever delicious delicacies are put on a table. Especially when it’s cooked a la minute from chef to plate, you just can’t beat the freshness. And it’s not just about food. Signature cocktails make for another great type of themed station. Is there anything more fun than seeing good bartenders putting together gorgeous drinks with flare? Hint: the answer is ‘Absolutely not!’
So, the next time you plan an event, get creative. Think about the flavours you love, the type of cooking you appreciate and the kind of memories you want your guests to take home. Then remember that there’s nothing more unforgettable than a mind-blowing food station.
Want to book a food station for your event? Contact us now!