4 Big (and Small!) Event Food Presentation Trends You Need to See

| Industry Insight

When you’re hosting a gala or a party, building the right menu is essential. Caterers have made the task easier by serving up bold, outside-the-box, and local options. With the perfect menu, the food presentation can’t be an afterthought.

“Event organizers should look for an interesting or unusual way to do the food presentation,” says Jim Decatur, our New Business Development Manager. “You want to get guests excited and involved in the event.”

Plus – thoughtful food presentation gives any event Instagram-worthy optics!

4 event food presentation trends Arena predicts for 2017:

1. Bold Food Displays

We’re seeing event designers display food in a way that it’s never been displayed. Whether it’s a brunch buffet or a mouth-watering taco bar, having your serving dishes displayed at unique heights on the table helps to draw guests in. Elevated food creates a great visual and it’s absolutely engaging!

“I haven’t been to an event in the last six months where the food wasn’t elevated,” says Decatur, who works in Chicago. “It creates a lot of really nice depth.”

2. Extra-Small Snacks

For the perfect hors d’oeuvres, take classic comfort food and shrink it. We’ve seen – and loved – Reuben sliders, soup shooters, and even small Caesar salads.

(Don’t think about serving on a paper plate! The best events add a touch of class by displaying snacks on a right-size plate or serving dish.)

3. Food Stations

From build-your-own hamburgers to omelet bars, food stations make a great topic for conversation. The best case is several action stations, so guests can move around and get a flavor for an entire event. It makes for wonderful interaction between people!

If your market is new to the trend, Decatur recommends adding a carving action station to the standard buffet. Keep it simple – have a chef carving a roast, and toppings on the side that are elevated.

4. Two-Bite Desserts

Decatur is seeing event caterers serve desserts in bite-size portions. This includes unusual options such as crème brûlée or Key lime pie! We love the trend because it means event hosts can serve many desserts at dessert stations around the venue, and guests are encouraged to mingle.

To create a dynamic look, display three or four treats at varying heights. Desserts can be served on trays or in a 4 or 5 oz. dish that complements the individual item. For our clients, we’ve been providing glass Mason jars, shooters, or any other dish that’s small or handheld.


Keep guests moving around the event space by renting both highboy tables and standard rounds. For details, check out our Quick List – 5 Table Rentals You Need to Remember.