As with many food and fashion trends, what was once “old” is now new! Family Style Catering is a perfect example. There was a time when family style would not have been acceptable for a sophisticated wedding or social event and now family style is one of the most popular services - perfectly suited for the couple who want a warm and welcoming ambiance without compromising on attentive service.
Just like it sounds, family style dinner service is where large platters of food are placed in the center of each dinner table. Guests take their food and pass the plate to the next guest. This style of service is a great compromise between plated and buffet style meals, as it offers the variety of a buffet with some of the formality of a plated dinner.
Family-Style Menu Design
- When planning a family style menu, make sure to stay away from messy items like pasta, or any meats with heavy sauces. Items need to be easy for guests to identify a portion and serve themselves.
- We suggest considering mixing formats a bit - i.e., a plated salad followed by two to three meat options as well as two to three sides and either a plated dessert or dessert display. Family-style can also be a great way to work in themed. For example, we love to serve a steak house themed menu with a beautifully plated protein and serve it alongside a variety of decadent sides for guests to share and connect over.
- If considering a small plates menu you may want to consider small plates/bites served family-style as another fun and engaging presentation option.
Advantages and a Few Things to Consider
- Atmosphere - Creates a convivial, relaxed atmosphere at the dining tables and encourages conversation. The sharing of food between your guests encourages engagement and memorable conversations. We find that this form of service is the best when you have people seated at tables who don't know each other yet. By the end of the night, they will!
- No Lines - No lines and no need for guests to get up for seconds as platters will be efficiently replenished. Family-style is also very efficient and timeline-friendly.
- A place to get creative - Adds creativity to the table with beautiful platters, serving pieces and risers.
- Natural feel - Like an elevated version of your childhood family dinners - warm and inviting!
- Staffing - Somewhat reduced staffing requirement as compared to a plated service.
- Table Selection and Table Design - Make sure you have ample table room for platters and serving dishes. Keep in mind when selecting your tables and planning table décor - large center florals won't leave room for dinner platters.
- Platters, Serving Bowls and Serveware - Will need to be figured into rental costs - selections need to be large enough to hold required portions but also manageable for guests to pass with appropriate and ample serving utensils (we can help in this department). Select pieces that mesh well or event reflect the food theme and style of the celebration.