Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Menu planning trends

I've been elbow deep in banquet menus over the past couple days. A new trend I'm noticing with hotels and caterers is the "plan your own menu" menus. I'm convinced it's a marketing ploy. A $35 pp chicken dinner certainly looks better than a $70 pp chicken dinner. But wait! It's $35 pp for the entree alone. The salad is $12 pp, the appetizer $15 pp, dessert is $8 pp. Add them all up, and voila! $70 pp for a chicken dinner, and that is before the 20-22% service charge and the 10% tax.

Thank goodness I've gone vegetarian. Apparently another trend. With the Atkins diet safely behind us, the latest craze is healthy eating or "eco-conscious" eating. Hotels and caterers are offering up more of these options in their banquet menus, guests are asking for them, and those of us who plan menus on a regular basis are more than happy to oblige (especially if we think it will help with the bottom-line).

Weddings, however, are a different animal. How do you serve healthy options when your guests are expecting to indulge?
-- Switch out the wedding cake for fruit. We had a couple who did this, and their guests were happy for the lighter, less filling dessert.
-- Serve a vegetarian option (my favorite).
-- Serve a smaller portion (request a lunch portion vs. a dinner portion). A word of caution: some caterers and venues will NOT allow this, but ask anyway.
-- Have your guests walk a short distance from the cocktail area to the dinner area (exercise!) and finally,
-- serve dressed up water instead of champagne.

Oh, what the heck, let them eat cake!

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