s the events industry gears up for yet another busy season ahead, the event planning scene is abuzz with intriguing developments in the food and beverage space. From small, intimate gatherings to large-scale corporate events, event planners and caterers are exploring innovative ways to enhance the dining experience for guests. Look ahead to immersive dining experiences, the next generation of nondairy dairy products, and the rise in functional foods. These innovative food trends will give you something to chew on. Here, we take a closer look at the latest food and beverage trends that are taking the events world by storm and how the DCi team has masterfully incorporated them.
Top Food and Beverage Trends for 2023
1. Sustainability All-Around
The focus has finally shifted to promoting eco-friendly food production. This year and in the years to come, sustainable consumption will be amplified by implementing practices that minimize food waste, utilize compostable packaging, and source seasonal ingredients from local suppliers. Environmentally conscious actions aren’t strictly confined to the event itself either – once an event is complete and the last plate is served, DCi encourages donating leftover meals to local organizations when applicable.
2. N/A Over ABV
Over the past few years, the demand for nonalcoholic beverages has skyrocketed, with many consumers becoming more cognizant about their choices and seeking healthier alternatives. More and more events are stocking up on N/A beers, dealcoholized wines, and flavorful “spirits” like Seedlip brand products that offer a similar taste and experience without the buzz.
3. Mushrooms are the New Kale
With the growing popularity of vegan and vegetarian diets and the increasing demand for meatless options by omnivores, mushrooms – particularly the lesser-known kinds — are set to soar in popularity this year. Chefs and foodies are looking to unique foraged varieties such as morel, hen of the wood, lion’s mane, and chaga to create innovative dishes packed with antioxidants and flavor.
4. Mobile Stations and Setups
Buffet-style and plated meals are standard at most events, but there’s a third option that’s booming in popularity these days – mobile food and beverage stations. Rather than waiting in a long line for seconds or hoping your server comes back to refresh the bread basket, guests can walk up and easily grab what they’re looking for. Think: a classic ice cream cart embellished with your brand’s logo, a three-tier bread cart with a variety of bread baskets for guests to choose from, or a specialty beverage cart stocked with beers or seltzers.
5. Creative Displays
Reimagine how tasty treats are presented with whimsical touches like floating trays, walls with glowing shelves, dry ice to keep seafood chilled, and other out-of-the-box ways that showcase food items, whether that’s tray-passed, plated, or food stations. You can also level-up your eye-catching displays with simple swaps that still have a dramatic impact. Playing with texture, color, and other elements are easy ways to attract attention. DCi recommends experimenting with adding layers to your displays with acrylic trays, faux marble slabs, or a beautifully shaped wooden cutting board.
6. Interactive Elements
Experiential dining is upping the ante. Table side concepts are still a big hit at restaurants – from building your own salad for the table to watching your guac take form in front of your eyes, but there are even more ways to infuse experiences at your next event. Speakeasy-style rooms are popping up at restaurants, and that idea can be easily translated into events. Creating an intimate, cozy atmosphere with dim lighting and specialty F&B items builds a sense of exclusivity and allows guests to step away from the hubbub of an event.
7. Eating with Your Eyes
Another way to incorporate interactive elements is through the food itself. Gastro Garage is an experiential pop-up dining and catering company that serves sweet and savory brioche donuts filled with nitrous foam, torched toppings, and finishing oils that are then cooked by blow torches and assembled by skilled chefs, or Gastro Mechanics as Gastro Garage calls them. What sounds like an intimidating dish is actually a delicious sight to see! Get your guests in on the action with a hand-dipped dessert station via LuxeBar – a company in Scottsdale, Arizona, that serves its dreamy treats at corporate events and its shop in Old Town. Pictured below: “S’more Dior Please” – a hand-dipped bar topped with graham cracker crumbles, toasted marshmallow fluff, and chocolate drizzle.
How DCi Does Experiential Dining
DCi always aims to educate and empower guests, especially when it comes to food choices. Recently the team had a “Food Guru” station that was manned by a hotel chef, where guests could come up and ask specific questions about the evening’s cuisine and food preferences. This gave the guest a chance to get answers in real-time, and it helped to build relationships and trust. Another way to arm attendees with knowledge is by utilizing event mobile apps so guests are able to easily find different food types and food designations, like vegan and gluten-free, within the event space.
A few trends that emerged over the past few years continue to stand the test of time. The pandemic forced restaurants and venues to get creative in utilizing outdoor spaces to accommodate dining guidelines. We saw a rise in retrofitting parking lots and sidewalk spaces, and many of those setups have remained to this day because the combo of outdoor dining and fresh air was one that proved to be popular with customers and beneficial for businesses. As the F&B trends continue to evolve, we’re certain that al fresco dining will stick around.
Ready for the main course? DCi is here to help you plan your next unforgettable event and deliver a dining experience that takes the cake. Send us a message to connect!