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Top Tips for Selecting an Outstanding Event Menu

Woman holding menu

Published on January 22, 2020

Today, more than ever, food is a central component of almost every event, whether corporate or social. What people eat and drink can even be the elements that turn an ordinary gathering into an extraordinary one, making it truly unforgettable in all the best ways. At Shaw Centre, our entire kitchen brigade takes great pride in working under the direction of our very talented Executive Chef Patrick Turcot to develop and deliver exceptional food, tailored to each event.

Many event planners may not be familiar with the process of selecting a customized menu as some venues elect to offer a set list of options, leaving less room for choice. Not so at Shaw Centre! We are delighted to work with your vision, your budget, your guests’ dietary restrictions and any special requests to create a customized menu just for your event.

Francine Lavack, Event Services Manager at Shaw Centre, offers the following five tips on the process of selecting a menu:

Francine holding the menu

Bear in mind that food is a significant part of any event; one that has the potential to set the event apart from the competition or other events. For many delegates, the food can be a big reason why they look forward to the event. It’s not a stretch to say that a memorable culinary experience stays with the soul for a long time. At Shaw Centre, we have had returning delegates speak of a specific menu for years afterwards, asking to have it prepared and served again in future years. When delegates feel that way, as a planner you know you have done a great job at menu selection.

Consider the demographics and needs of your group and also the image of the organization which you want to project through your food and beverage choices. Some people may enjoy healthier, more wholesome gourmet ‘homestyle’ items or artisanal ingredients like local cheese and charcuterie. Others may prefer playful, ‘build your own’ menus or interesting, interactive ‘action stations’ where they can engage with cooks preparing the food. Of course, there may also be groups for whom more traditional meals which are both filling and comforting are preferred, while other groups may be arriving at the last minute or departing promptly, in which case house-made ‘to go’ meals may be more suitable. When you are able to communicate to us the demographics of you delegates, we can ensure an appropriate and satisfying menu.

Plate of Food

Photo by Ben Welland

Similarly, think about what activities your attendees may be engaged in prior to and after each food and beverage element of your event. If they’re sitting all day, lighter fare might be in order, whereas if they are engaged in outdoor pursuits or active teambuilding exercises, a heartier menu could be preferable.

Headshot of Francine

Understand the purpose of your event’s food and beverage opportunities. Some receptions or meals may be short, others may be lengthier; some may be designed for networking while others may be more functional, simply intended to nourish the delegates. Understanding these points will help you make smarter decisions about menus and menu items. Should the function be short in duration and timed perhaps a plated meal with a pre-set course is more time efficient than a buffet or ‘build your own’ menu. Should the function be intended for networking, a more appropriate menu might include small plates and smaller bite-sized items, perhaps even passed hors d’oeuvres. These items are preferable to facilitate guests interacting with each other.

Plate of Food 2

Photo by Ben Welland

Be aware of or open to current food trends to help make your event’s food and beverage service more creative, delicious and amusing. Time and energy permitting, the more you collaborate with the culinary team, the easier it will be to ensure a unique and satisfying experience for your guests or delegates. At Shaw Centre, no event is too large or too small to make the food and beverage service interesting and memorable. As an example, we are constantly reaching out to local producers for ingredients to incorporate into our menus to set them apart. Our beverage team also excels at crafting signature cocktails which serve to represent your organization with flair at a reception. Once you’ve developed your event concept, liaising with the food and beverage team will facilitate having the culinary and drink offerings reflect your chosen theme.

A unique menu, unusual elements or inventive presentation can play a great part in an event. Whatever your requirements or desires may be, you can count on Shaw Centre’s experienced, professional food and beverage team to work with you from concept to completion on developing and delivering an exceptional culinary experience. Bring us your ideas and we’ll shape them into a delicious, memorable menu that’s sure to please. The sky is the limit at Shaw Centre and we love pushing the envelope with interesting concepts and ingredients guaranteed to surprise and delight.