Relaxed dining is taking off in a big way. While some people may still prefer to be wined and dined in a more formal, sophisticated setting, the growing popularity of these communal dining experiences can simply no longer be ignored.
The sudden rise of informal dining has inevitably led to an increase in all-you-can-eat buffets and, more importantly, extravagant sharing platters. Packed with variety and often serving up some truly adventurous options, these platters are quickly becoming the go-to dish for larger groups grabbing a bite to eat. In fact, according to the Pub Catering Report of 2017, as many as 71% of pub-goers would be interested in ordering a sharing platter.
While these platters can prove essential in getting people through the door and convincing them to choose your establishment, diners who choose these sharing options typically spend much more per head. By working with suppliers to the catering industry and putting together some delicious recipes, caterers all over the country can really reap the benefits of these changing food trends. Before you do that, however, you’ll need to know how to put together the perfect sharing platter.
Provide Plenty of Variety
Sharing platters provide the perfect option for people who simply cannot decide what to order. When diners remain indecisive and sit staring at their menu for an extended period of time, they’ll inevitably feel a little unsatisfied by whatever they eventually order. From a caterer’s point of view, this simply will not do, which is why so many establishments are now serving up sharing dishes which offer a little bit of everything.
The best sharing platters will offer diners with a selection of meats, spices, sauces and flavours, serving up a mouth-watering combination of different finger-foods. Such a wide variety obviously means diners are no longer restricted to choosing just one dish from the menu, instead allowing them to try new things, experiment and discover a new favourite dish.
Although many caterers will prefer to offer a choice of three or four set platters, diners will always appreciate the opportunity to customise and personalise their sharing dishes; allowing them to create the perfect platter for their own particular party.
Vegetarian and Vegan Options
According to The Vegan Society, 1 in 3 Britons have either stopped or significantly reduced their consumption of meat, while they also state that the number of vegans has quadrupled since 2014. Perhaps more surprisingly, the stats also show that a quarter of all evening meals in the UK are either vegan or vegetarian.
As the demand for meat-free meals continues to rise, caterers need to adapt to these evolving dietary trends. To be more specific, it’s vitally important for you to make sure you offer a fully vegan or vegetarian platter, so as not to alienate such a large proportion of the population.
While most of your other platters are bound to include some form of vegetarian element, you should by no means expect non-meat-eaters to be satisfied by these limited options. Besides, when diners can’t try a bit of everything, there’s very little point in ordering a platter in the first place. Instead, you need to make sure you offer a platter which is completely meat-free and can be enjoyed by every single one of your customers.
Choose a Theme
While the popularity of modern sharing platters has undoubtedly stemmed from Spanish tapas, these dishes now involve nearly every other type of cuisine imaginable. The use of different types of food ultimately allow caterers to create platters which focus on a particular theme—although you may want to consider mixing and matching these cuisines to create something a little more adventurous.
However, a truly fantastic platter will combine flavours and textures which work well together, with the more popular platters usually centring around Indian, English and Italian components. Whether you want to base a sharing dish around sliced meats and cheese, a selection of seafood or American-style sticky ribs, each one of your platters should stick to a theme if you really want to tantalise those taste buds.
In fact, since so many platters now revolve around seasonal events and different times of the year, the Bank Holiday Weekend serves up the ideal theme to get your platter menu started. Either way, shared dining should be considered more of a social experience than an ordinary meal, and your platters need to be adventurous enough (and tasty enough) to make that experience memorable.