Six summer event catering trends

Three London-based event caterers spoke to Event about key summer food trends including Korean BBQ and Mexican, as well as guests' preferred eating styles at summer soirees.

Korean BBQ, Mexican dishes and interactive food stations are among the top summer catering trends
Korean BBQ, Mexican dishes and interactive food stations are among the top summer catering trends

Korean BBQ

While an English-style barbeque is a summertime favourite, Damian Clarkson, managing director at The London Kitchen told Event another type of barbecued cuisine is on the rise.

"Pulled pork is as popular as ever, however Korean BBQ dishes are catching up fast with more and more people choosing to chow down on kimchi and bulk up on bibimbap," he said. 

Lucy Adams, senior sales and event planner at The Recipe has also noticed a demand for such dishes. "This summer we see a focus on BBQ trends with Korean fried chicken, and our sea bass ceviche canapé with lime, chill and coriander is also a hit."

New wave Mexican

Lucy Mears, sales and marketing manager at Harbour & Jones, said Mexican food in is high demand. "Authentic Mexican is the current hot ticket – colourful with fresh, zingy flavours aplenty – it’s a million miles away from the Tex Mex chains of yesteryear and therefore feels new and exciting.

"The Mexican favourite, quesadillas served with chipotle mayo and griddled limes are among the most popular dishes at our summer events," she explained.

Fresh produce, healthy dishes  

Adams said fresh seasonal produce, and the ‘field to fork’ approach to eating is front and centre at summer events.

"Currently on our plates are asparagus, artichoke and broad beans. Our asparagus and baby vegetable summer salad with truffled chardonnay mayo is proving a popular summer favourite.

"Lamb is always a winner in the summer and we have devised a dish that incorporates a recent trend for less carbohydrates – it includes salt marsh lamb, burrata, snow peas and confit tomato."

Clarkson agreed: "Another big trend we have seen this summer is for cleaner eating, by this we mean more healthy, simple options. A key ingredient to watch is pomegranate – it’s great in salads as it gives a sweet yet bitter hit," he explained.

Mears noted make-your-own salads are more prominent than ever at events. "Nutrition for optimal health is big news and so the humble salad has been promoted to main dish status. A ‘Pick Your Own’ allotment style stall with chefs creating bespoke salads to order was a big hit at a recent event."

Shared desserts

It seems the shared food trend has extended into the realm of desserts, too. "Our pudding walls have been a particular favourite – either placed or hung on various walls around the venue or set up on tables, guests can help themselves to a selection of fudges, macarons, mini puddings and nougats with a cup of coffee at the end of the meal," said Mears.

Clarkson added: "This is a trend that we have been noticing more and more in the last couple of years, translating over to events with everyone helping themselves to pudding as they would around the family table."

Street food stalls and interactive food stations

"These are a great way of keeping guests moving around the event spaces and interacting with our chefs, creating a unique dining experience that is never the same," said Clarkson. 

Adams agreed that food stalls interspersed with moving canapés are the preferred dining style. "Combinations for static and circulated food are forever popular and the trend for informal parties has seen more substantial bites integrated with fusion food stalls," she explained. 

Mears added Harbour & Jones clients similarly request food stalls during the warmer months. "Street food stalls reign supreme for summer events as they offer a contemporary and visually impactful alternative to buffets and bowl food.

"Interaction with chefs and producers adds an element of entertainment, an opportunity to engage with guests and it elevates food to be the star of the show."

Casual dining

"We’re seeing a real shift in the formality of ‘formal’ dinners with requests for more ‘family’ style service, such as meat being carved at the table, sharing platters of side dishes and so on," explained Mears.

Clarkson added: "Whilst there will always be the need for more traditional dinners we are also seeing the lean towards a more informal vibe with clients wanting a break from tradition."

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