Learn How to Make Pickles and Find Out Why They’re Good for Business

Homemade Pickles: Ride the Latest Catering Trend

Make Your Own Pickles

A little while ago we discussed how your catering business can benefit if you use made-from-scratch condiments. Your customers will be impressed by the originality of your approach and they will appreciate the homemade flavor of the food that you produce in your very own kitchen. Now that you’ve perfected your ketchup and mayonnaise, it’s time to move on to another perennial crowd-pleaser: pickles. Making these delicious treats and serving them fresh and crispy at your next event, will put you on the map as the Pickle Maven of the catering world.

Pickles Are Hot

According to the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot” survey for 2018, homemade pickles are one of the most popular food trends right now. Crunchy and sour, pickled cucumbers – or, simply, pickles – can be eaten on their own or used in sandwiches and salads to add a fabulous tang. Street food in general, and pickles in particular, are having a moment, and the green wonders are being reinvented in all colors, sizes, textures, and flavors.

But, you may ask, why make my own pickles? The real question is, why not? When produce is in season – at peak flavor and in top-quality, inexpensive abundance – it makes sense to grab it while you can and make it last. By making homemade pickles, not only are you taking advantage of the monetary savings, you’re showing clients that you can take a trend to a higher level, mixing the pickle craze with the make-your-own-everything trend that is apparently here to stay.

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How Vegetable Shakes and Smoothie Bowls Can Put Your Business on the Map

Serve Vegetable-Forward Drinks to Impress Your Catering Clientele

Cater With Vegetable-Based Drinks

An important part of any catered event is quenching your guests’ thirst. Nowadays it’s not enough to place a few bottles of sparkling water or Coke on each table; a beverage station – serving hot perked coffee, freshly brewed tea, and blended drinks that are created on the spot – is a feature that no event can do without. Smoothies and shakes have long been part of a caterer’s beverage repertoire, as they allow guests to customize their beverages with ingredients of their choosing. Now, however, with the arrival of warmer months, along with the increase in healthier menu offerings, it’s time to liven up your beverage menu by introducing your guests to fresh, bright, vegetable-based smoothies.

Eating and Drinking Healthy is Here to Stay

There are basically two options for including a beverage bar at the events that you cater: you can handle all the drink-making yourself (with staff that you hire and train), or you can outsource to a company that specializes in serving beverages at catered events. Either way, the drinks that you serve at your upcoming events will have to conform to the current trends: healthy, sustainable, and seasonal. When it comes to drinks, this means that your clients will be looking for freshly squeezed juices and blended smoothies made from organic, local, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Many people are trying to incorporate more vegetables in their diets, and juicing is a great way to capture a lot of vitamins and minerals from raw produce that might otherwise be lost during cooking.

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Recent surveys indicate that the plant-based foods sector grew more than 8 percent in 2017, and the plant-centric drinks category is up 3 percent since last year, significantly outpacing sales of cow’s milk over the same period. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2018 “What’s Hot” survey, vegetable-based cuisine – sometimes referred to as “vegetable-forward” – is the third-most popular culinary trend. “Plant-based” is more than just a buzzword or a passing fancy. It’s a lifestyle choice that is driven by consumer interest in both personal wellness and concern for our planet, and it’s here to stay.

A New Plant-Based Outlook

Hope Lee is a senior analyst for Euromonitor International, an independent provider of strategic market research. In an August 2016 podcast, Lee discussed the fact that consumption of plant-based foods and beverages is increasing because consumers tend to perceive them as natural, safer, and more sustainable than animal products. She points out that we can see the subtle shift away from meat-centered meals in cooking magazines, health books, restaurant and catering menus, and cookbooks. As the prevailing winds of healthy eating and drinking strengthen, new terminology emerges, such as the creation of the word “flexitarian,” that describes a person who chooses a predominantly vegetarian diet, but who does still eat some meat. The emergence of the flexitarian lifestyle, Lee says, has created opportunities for innovation in the plant-based food industry, in which “manufacturers are actively looking for and exploring traditional plants to make them into delicious and nutritious food and beverage products.”

Michele Simon, CEO of the Plant-Based Foods Association agrees. “The steady growth of the plant-based food and beverage industries shows that consumers continue to shift away from animal products toward plant-based options,” she says, and quotes a recent report that estimates annual sales of plant-based beverages at $2 billion, with that figure forecast to climb to $3 billion by 2020.

Plant based smoothie

Milk: Not Just From Cows

Consumers seeking plant-based alternatives to traditionally animal-based nutritional sources are increasingly gravitating toward non-dairy “milks”: beverages made from nuts, soybeans, legumes, and seeds that are marketed as cow’s-milk replacements for use with breakfast cereals, coffee, smoothies, and cooking, and for drinking on their own straight from a glass.

In an article entitled, “Fake Moos,” the Slate website points out that the milk consumption of Americans is on a downward slide, while “our appetite for creamy, plant-based milk substitutes made from soy or almonds has been sharply on the rise.” This trend is giving rise to lawsuits brought by the country’s dairy farmers who say, “It is misleading and illegal for manufactures of these items [non-dairy milk products] to profit from the ‘milk’ name. … They are unable to match the nutritional makeup of the product they mimic, yet they continue to be marketed as milk.”

Legalities and nomenclature aside, milk alternatives continue to gain traction. Among the four leading types of non-dairy milk – soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and rice milk – soy milk is considered the most nutritional, as it packs the same amount of protein as cow’s milk. However, there are great options for anyone who is allergic to soy, such as almond milk, which is steadily closing the gap behind soy milk. And, as competition in the non-dairy, plant-based-milk market grows, there is a proliferation of flavors and innovations in the industry, such as the blueberry-banana almond-milk beverage from Bolthouse Farm – “The Future of Milk – and Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice almond milk.

Catering With Veggie-Based Drinks

While most people have embraced the fruit smoothie trend, not everyone is ready for a full-on vegetable shake. Nonetheless, if you encounter a client who is on the fence about serving guests veggie-smoothies, point out that they can get more than half of the recommended daily amount of vegetables in one drink — something most people don’t even get in a day. But, more importantly, point out that they are simply delicious. Let your customers peruse articles that have various recipes and allow them to choose a few drinks that appeal to them while of course, sampling some of your own offerings.

You can suggest smoothies that are big on tasty vegetables while keeping their signature sweetness. So, for instance, you can offer tropically inspired smoothies that contain a combination of finely shredded carrots, frozen mango slices, strawberries, mango juice and ice; or green and zingy shakes that have liquefied carrots, spinach, apple and pineapple chunks, and apple juice, and a sliver of fresh ginger for a refreshing zing.

Peach-Banana Super Veggie Green Smoothie Recipe

The Hamilton Beach Everyday Good Things website (they’re the blender people), features a recipe for a fabulous green smoothie that also contains sweet peaches and bananas for the perfect combination of flavors:

Peach-Banana Super Veggie Green Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana, sliced and slightly thawed
  • 2 small peaches, pitted
  • The vanilla from 1 vanilla bean or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli florets
  • 2 cups baby kale (or regular kale or spinach)

Directions

  1. Start by adding the liquid to your blender, followed by the soft fruit.
  2. Add the greens to your blender last.
  3. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy.

Smoothie bowls are all the rage

Smoothie Bowls – Yes, It’s a Thing

Just when we thought we were staying ahead of the health/vegetable trend by serving green smoothies, along comes smoothie bowls to up the health ante. Smoothies served out of a bowl — also known as smoothie bowls — are the new darlings of Instagram and Twitter and they are turning up in endless configurations at juice bars and on breakfast menus across the United States. So, if you’re looking to become the most cutting-edge caterer around, add smoothie bowls to your menu and give your reputation a boost.

Just like smoothies that are poured into a glass, smoothie bowls are made up of blended fruits, vegetables, juices or milks. In a bowl, smoothies can be made thicker and sprinkled with a variety of toppings (that can’t get sucked up through a straw). The base incorporates thickeners like avocado and bananas, and toppings can be anything from sliced fruit and nuts, to seeds and granola. Packed with a range of creative fruit and vegetable combos, smoothie bowls can be amazingly nutrient- and protein dense. Popular spots like the Juice Press, focus on protein-centric smoothies made with Acai, blueberry and coconut water to highlight the sweetness. At your next catered event, setting up a smoothie-bowl bar that includes a couple of base options with an arrangement of toppings will make the party – and you – the talk of the town.

Blend Those Veggies

Serving vegetable-forward shakes and smoothies at your catered events will show potential clients that you are able and willing to go with the flow and that you’re always on top of the latest food trends. Additionally, to really highlight your cutting-edge side, offer healthy, delicious and fun smoothie bowls, and watch your reputation and your business soar.

Use Edible Flowers, One of the Hottest Trends of the Year

Stay on Top of the Latest Trends by Using Edible Flowers

How to Use Edible Flowers

Cooking with edible flowers is once again a trend. After going out of style for many years, cooking and garnishing with flowers is back in vogue and on the buffet tables at catered events everywhere. As a savvy caterer, it’s time for you to embrace the edible flower trend to add a touch of elegance to all your affairs.

The Use of Edible Flowers Goes Way Back

In “The Edible Flower Guide: Cooking with Flowers from the Garden,” the Gardening Channel offers advice and tips on using edible flowers safely and beautifully, and lists the many edible varieties, including those we’ll mention below. As the site explains, edible flowers are experiencing a renaissance, of sorts. They’re popping up everywhere – on top of wedding cakes, in cocktails and even in soups and salads. And not just the usual and well-known edibles, like lavender or nasturtium; in addition to the tried-and-true favorites, other flowers, like pansies, tulips, violets, and orchids are getting the culinary treatment.

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How a Legal Catering Contract Can Keep You and Your Client Safe and Protected

How to Write a Contract to Protect Your Catering Business

Effective Catering Contracting

Catering is a challenging business. Running a successful and busy catering business is akin to juggling and keeping a lot of balls in the air: finding and keeping dependable labor; contending with ever-rising food costs; and fighting the competition in a marketplace that is close to saturated. We gave you advice about starting a catering business and we hope you’re making a go of it. Now we’re going to explore an often overlooked area of catering – the contract, without which every job can become way more trouble than it’s worth.

Clients Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Caterers have to be great cooks, shrewd business people, skilled diplomats, and sympathetic listeners, as they deal with clients who are faced with what is usually a major event in their lives. Most of these people will be reasonable and pleasant clients who are good to work with and who are happy with the result. However, along the way, you may also meet difficult and indecisive customers who cancel events with no warning; are argumentative and penny-pinching; who fight about every dime and nickel when it comes time to paying the bill; who are demanding, who expect an instant response whenever they try to contact you; and capricious patrons who change plans on a whim. These types of customers are part of the challenge of running a busy catering company, which is why caterers need two things to succeed: a thick skin and an iron-clad written contract.

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Understand Veganism to Cater a Fabulous Plant-Based Event

Catering Events for Vegans Can Enhance Your Reputation

Keep Vegan Guests in Mind

As a caterer, you’ve probably found yourself having to prepare food for all types of clients, including vegetarians, glucose- and lactose-intolerant customers, those with nut allergies, and clients who adhere to sugar-free or low-fat diets. Veganism is just one more fad in a long line of trends for which you must bend over backwards to please your customers. Special requests are part of the business, and to make it in the dog-eat-dog catering arena you need to be flexible and know how to accede – with grace and generosity – to a range of requirements (even those that lead to extra work). However, when you do go that extra mile, it’s worth it, as your reputation as an accommodating and professional caterer will precede you.

What is Veganism?

Veganism isn’t a new concept, but it has been receiving more and more attention lately. The term “vegan” was coined in 1944 by a group of vegetarians who then formed the Vegan Society. In addition to not eating meat (like vegetarians), vegans choose not to consume dairy, eggs or any other products of animal origin. According to the Vegan Society website, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.” The term vegan was created by combining the first and last letters of the word vegetarian.

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Use a Seasonal Menu to Boost Profits and Introduce New Items

A Seasonal Menu is a Great Sales Tool

Building a Great Seasonal Menu

There are a few reasons that, every once in a while, caterers must change their menus. Although it’s fine to keep the tried-and-true favorites – your signature dishes and the all-time crowd pleasers – the trick to be a popular caterer is to know how to go with the flow, how to stay ahead of the trends and, perhaps most importantly, how to create menus that are seasonal and timely.

Why Go Seasonal

Although it may be easier for caterers and restauranteurs to fall back on their greatest hits, a seasonal menu shows clients that you care about offering a special dining experience. Surveys have shown that this approach will boost business and have a positive impact on your bottom line – for several reasons. First, seasonal foods are usually less expensive than out-of-season fruits because of their abundance. Second, using seasonal ingredients can be a money-saving proposition; this is because using out-of-season fruits and vegetables leads to waste, as the lack of freshness of out-of-season ingredients increases the chance of decay, decomposition, and unusable products.

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How to Cater for Clients Who Want Gut-Friendly Foods

Tips for Catering and Creating a Gut-Friendly Menu

How to Create a Gut-Friendly Catering Menu

For years, we thought of bacteria as organisms that are bad for us, even deadly. However, research has shown that the human body is loaded with “good bacteria,” which help us to digest food and contribute to our well-being. Serving “gut-friendly foods,” – foods that contain friendly bacteria that aid digestion and help to prevent certain diseases – is a big catering trend right now. Add these foods to your menu and your customers will appreciate the effort you make to help keep them healthy while they enjoy your tasty food.

What Are Gut Bacteria?

The gut is simply another word for our gastrointestinal system, which starts in the mouth and includes the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum. The gut is essential in sustaining and protecting the health of our bodies, starting with the intake and absorption of nutrients. The digestive process is the foundation for our body’s ability to function and stay healthy.

Roughly 300 to 500 different kinds of bacteria live inside our gut, along with other tiny organisms, like viruses and fungi, which form the body’s “microbiome.” Every person has a unique microbiome, which is influenced by genes, as well as diet and lifestyle. Our gut bacteria line our digestive system and affect everything from our immune system and metabolism, to our moods and temperament. Gut bacteria help to break down the foods we eat and aid in the digestion of the nutrients that support our body’s functions, such as energy production, skin health, and mental health.

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Salmon: Loaded with Nutrients and Flavor

Salmon: The Fish That Everyone Loves

Salmon: Versatile, Nutritious, and Delicious

When it comes to foods that meet what are arguably the three most important criteria – taste, nutritional value, and ease of preparation – salmon heads the list. Salmon is delicious, it just about cooks itself, and it has more health benefits than we can keep track of. Salmon is also super-versatile – it can be baked, broiled, grilled, and poached, and with so little work on your part, it never fails to be delicious.

All About Salmon

Salmon is an outstanding and unusual fish; outstanding because it’s incredibly tasty, and unusual because both fish lovers and non-fish lovers tend to like it. It’s a fatty, succulent fish with plenty of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, plus a big dose of protein, and an abundance of vitamins. It’s readily available all year round, and, even the most inexperienced (or lazy) cook can prepare it in no time.

Salmon is the common name for fish in the order Salmoniformes. Salmon are “anadromous,” which means that most types of this fish are born in fresh water, migrate to the salt water of the open sea, and then return to fresh water to reproduce, or “spawn.” After living for years at sea, salmon travel a long-distance home to return to the river in which they were born in order to spawn. After spawning, all Pacific salmon, and about half of the other species, die within a few weeks. The salmon that do not die can spawn two or three more times.

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Entice Your Guests with Rotisserie or Fried Chicken

Chicken: Always Delicious and Never Out of Style

Chicken Still Rules the Catering Roost

While the latest and greatest trends must always be at the top of your catering menu, and your finger must remain firmly on the pulse of what trend-happy customers are looking for, one can never overlook the trend that seems to never go out of style: getting back to basics. Every few years the pendulum swings back around and basics like chicken – the All-American favorite – come back to top the list of trends to be on the lookout for. Right now, basic chicken recipes such as rotisserie and fried chicken are returning to the forefront of the catering world, so you can’t afford to overlook what has always been right in front of your eyes.

Chicken Remains Popular

The chicken industry in the United States is one of the most successful sectors in agriculture, with no signs of slowing down. Americans consume more than 80 pounds of chicken per person annually. Today’s chickens are healthy and wholesome – and affordable for just about everyone.
There are many varieties of chicken, including free range chicken, organic chicken, and conventional chicken; the difference between them is based on the basis of their breeding. While free-range chicken is allowed to roam freely in the pasture; conventional chicken (at the heart of ongoing controversy), is kept in cages and not allowed to move freely. Conventional chicken is also injected with hormones to fasten its growth and to make it unnaturally big. These are considerations when choosing chickens to feed a crowd (though your customers may dictate what kinds of chicken to use).

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How Bison Has Become a Big Catering Trend

Impress Your Guests: Serve Bison

Catered Events Benefit from Bison

Keeping up with food trends is crucial to offering customers the right menu. These days, “right” means being the healthiest and most environmentally friendly, as well as the most adventurous and interesting. Bison fulfills all the criteria of the trend-savvy consumer, and its place atop catering lists of “hot” items seems to be growing steadily.

History of Bison

Not everyone knows the difference between buffalo and bison; they’re not the same thing and the animals are not interchangeable. The American Bison is native to North and South America and Europe, while most buffalo species reside in Africa and Asia. They’re related, but not identical; in fact, North American bison have a beard, while their Asian relatives don’t. According to the National Park Service, when early explorers came to North America, they thought the animals resembled old world buffalo, and so they called them that, contributing to the general confusion.

During the 20th century, bison came very close to extinction. When the aforementioned early explorers arrived in North America in the late 1500s, there may have been as many as 60 million bison on the continent. In the 1880s, there were approximately 40 million in North America; but by the 1900s, hunting had reduced the population to a mere 1,000. The bison that exist today were bred from just a few individual bison, and they are thriving due to smart breeding efforts and restoration of their native grazing land. The animals now number roughly 400,000 and the bison business is booming.

Bison: a healthier meat

Bison: The Healthier Meat

The American Heart Association includes bison as a lean meat option in their Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. The greatest difference between beef and bison is their respective health benefits; they’re both delicious, but bison meat has the edge when it comes to health and nutrients. Like beef, bison is an excellent source of iron, zinc and certain B vitamins, including vitamin B12 and niacin. However, bison is lower in calories. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) a 3-ounce burger of ground grass-fed bison contains 152 calories and 7 grams of fat, versus a patty that contains even the leanest beef, which has 184 calories and 10 grams of fat. Grass-fed bison contain less saturated fat than beef and is lower in cholesterol.

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