“Build-Your-Own” at Your Next Catered Event

Catering is one of the most important elements of any catered event. Why not try something that’s a step above a traditional menu for your next event?

Most cocktail parties consist of passed hors d’oeuvres and/or stationary displays in large baskets or platters. One way to make your event standout and more memorable is to provide a unique catering experience. “Build-your own” stations are becoming more and more popular at events. They give your guests an interactive activity by assembling their own meals, and it’s a fun experience for them to pick and choose different flavors and toppings. Next time you are planning a meeting or reception, consider these ideas before opting for a traditional buffet station:

1. Taco Bar

A “build-your-own” taco bar can be a fun way to provide a light dinner for your guests. Guests could start with beef, chicken or a grilled vegetable option, and go down the line adding their favorite toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese, guacamole and salsa. This would be great for corporate companies and even children’s birthday parties.

2. Mashed Potato Bar

This is a spinoff of the traditional baked potato bar, and even that isn’t common at most events. Providing a mashed potato base makes the dish easier to eat, even for standing cocktail receptions with minimal seating. Toppings could include butter, shredded cheese, sour cream, bacon, chives, broccoli and even gravy.

3. Biscuit Bar

There’s something cozy and inviting about having a biscuit bar at an event. It’s a classic southern tradition, and it never gets old. Southern comfort food is becoming more popular around NYC, so why not provide it at your next cocktail reception? Throw in some fried chicken in the menu, too! You could provide different flavored butters, from strawberry to cinnamon and maybe even one with brown sugar. Another sweet topping could be honey. If you want to provide some savory toppings, you could provide the classic white peppered gravy and one with sausage in it. Mushroom gravy is also excellent, especially for the vegetarians.

4. Donut Bar

So many of us grew up eating fun-flavored donuts as kids, so having a “build-your-own” donut bar is sure to bring some smiles out at the end of an event. Start with a plain, glazed donut and let your guests choose additional flavored frostings, like strawberry frosting, a chocolate frosting or even a caramel sauce. Some other ideas are a Nutella spread and peanut butter. Toppings could include sprinkles, sea salt, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, cinnamon, chopped fruit, crushed graham crackers, M&Ms and one unique one is crushed potato chips. Yum!

5. Ice Cream Sundae Bar

This one is an oldie but a goodie. You basically start with vanilla (or chocolate) ice cream and provide similar toppings as the donut bar (some new ideas are: fudge, whipped cream, maraschino cherries, candy, etc.). Perfect for all summer events!

Photo: Bree Hester of  BakedBree.com

Photo: Bree Hester of BakedBree.com

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