Culinary News

Catering for the Holiday Season

Bryan Lavery
Written by Bryan Lavery

Culinary Trends in Catering for the Holiday Season

Planning a seasonal celebration? Whether it’s an old-fashioned Christmas party, a cocktail soirée, or a corporate lunch, entertaining should reflect your taste, style and personality. The end of one year and the beginning of another is a good time to reassess the role of culinary trends as an indicator of popular culture. Before we proceed, let’s look at what’s hot in the catering world. Generally speaking, anything small and round is currently popular in food (from Arancini to Chicken Balls (Yakitori) to Croquettes). Asian flavourings: togarashi, yuzukoshi, gochujang are hot, hot, hot. Fermented everything is on-trend. Spice trends include: torridly hot, smoked, warm and aromatic, fruity. Foie gras jelly doughnuts, kimchee doughnuts and custom hamburgers between two grilled doughnuts are the rage. White strawberries, green tomatoes, geranium leaves, Shiso and Hibiscus are all culinary ingredient trends slated for 2013.

Unleashing your caterer’s creativity is paramount to guaranteeing a successful event. A balanced repertoire of flavours, ingredients, tastes, techniques and food temperatures should all be considered when selecting a menu. And bear in mind that not only caterers, but many of your favourite restaurants are well-equipped to cater your holiday party in-house or in your home with the kinds of offerings that are guaranteed to give you satisfaction.

Diners are flocking to restaurants to enjoy synchronized “tasting menus” where as many as 20 to 30 sampling courses are served. In urban centres tasting-menu-only restaurants are beginning to spread like wildfire. Caterers are able to transform this concept by serving multiple courses of hors d’oeuvre size dishes. A starter course may include a Bloody Caesar with fresh grated horseradish and a giant shrimp (sustainable, of course) garnish served in a shot glass. This is the next big thing in both the catering and restaurant world where smaller food plates and more focused (locally/regionally) offerings are the rage. Not exactly tapas, but high quality, labour intensive small bites. (Mercer Hall in Stratford has perfected this concept).

Adapting to culinary trends allows caterers to offer innovative cuisine, quality products and services, to distinguish themselves, and help keep their services in great demand.

The role of the caterer has advanced from behind-the-scenes hired help to often being a front and centre participant at the event. Clients often look to caterers to provide entertainment, excitement and education for their guests; whether it’s providing a food tasting or wine pairing, constructing innovative food and beverage stations, or instructing and cooking alongside guests as part of a chef’s demo.

One of London’s favourite caterers, North Moore Catering (www.northmoore.ca) is a London-based, New York-inspired catering company run by Jess Jazey-Spolestra of the River Room. Jazey-Spolestra’s high quality food is cooked fresh and served fresh. North Moore often uses a trailer and tent to sit up a mobile kitchen on location. Ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible, while some specialty items such as caviar, smoked salmon, bagels and cream cheese are express-shipped from the Big Apple. North Moore are upscale caterers, and are synonymous with professional service, inventive cuisine combined with seasonal high-quality ingredients. Innovation is the name of the game: party planners, chefs and stylists work together to execute truly unique events. Scrumptious foods are innovative and pleasing and designed with all tastes in mind. As a full service catering and special event planning company, North Moore Catering not only provide amazing cuisine selections, but with services and support to complete your special event.

Another perennial favourite, Betty Heydon’s Blackfriars Bistro and Catering (www.blackfriarsbistro.com) has served London’s demand for original, healthy gourmet cuisine for over fifteen years. This personalized catering service customizes each menu with the client’s precise wishes in mind. With a bevy of talented chefs, each with a wide repertoire of expertise, Blackfriars is known for exceeding expectations. From venue to décor to entertainment they will consult with you, and based on your requirements and budget will skilfully guide you through choices for your planned event. Like the restaurant, Blackfriar’s Catering has built its reputation on exceeding customers’ expectations as well as providing professional and intelligent service.

In the past year, we also have seen some truly stunning events catered by Danijel (Dacha) Markovic of Kantina (www.kantina.­ca), Andrew Wolwowicz of The Springs (www.­thespringsrestaurant.com), Anissa Foley of Braywick Bistro and Wicked Catering (www.braywickbistro.com), Robbin Azzopardi of the Auberge du Petit Prince (www.aubergerestaurant.ca), as well as excellent South Vietnamese cuisine by Tamarine by Quynh Nhi (www.tamarine.ca).

 

Bryan Lavery is eatdrink magazine’s Writer at Large and Contributing Editor. He can be reached at blavery@eatdrink.ca

About the author

Bryan Lavery

Bryan Lavery

Eatdrink Food Editor and Writer at Large Bryan Lavery brings years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, as a chef, restaurant owner and consultant. Always on the lookout for the stories that Eatdrink should be telling, he helps shape the magazine both under his byline and behind the scenes.