Catering Corner: How do I choose my hors d’oeuvres?

February 27, 2013

When it comes to planning a cocktail party, we often are asked by our guests to advise on what hors d’oeuvres should be served during the cocktail party. Every type of party has different requirements, and therefore a different approach to a menu. Here are some basic tips to help making this decision a little less stressful: Is your event a social event or a corporate event? Basically, who are the attendees and what will they be wearing? When planning a formal event like a wedding, a gala, or a holiday party it is very important to choose hors d’oeuvres that will be easy to eat in one or two bites. Also, hors d’oeuvres served at a formal event should never be greasy or flaky. In contrast, if you are planning a less formal event -such as a corporate networking- there is more leeway for hors d’oeuvres that are less elegant. For instance, a mini pizza or a mini quesadilla can be a nice, hearty, three-bite choice for a less formal event. One thing to remember though, no matter how informal, you never want your attendees getting caught with a mouthful of food in front of the boss. Therefore, plan more seating and tables to accommodate for these types of items. What time of the year is it and what vegetables and fruits are in season? As with all menus, the season is a factor. In the dead of winter, tomatoes and basil on a crostini, while lovely, isn’t the best choice. You may love butternut squash all year round, but avoid it during the spring and summer. Seasonality is something your catering manager would be happy to advise you on. What factor should be considered? While hot hors d’oeuvres vs. cold hors d’oeuvres are a factor, it is a good idea to make decisions based more on variety in texture, richness and flavor. Favorites such as a mini beef wellington or melted brie in a puff pastry are both lovely, but would not recommend serving both due to similarities in texture and richness. Considering hors d’oeuvres with more contrast, such as watermelon with goat cheese and balsamic served along with baby lamb chops, provides guests with more variety. A Final Thought: Formal or informal, winter or spring, everyone, EVERYONE loves Pigs in a Blanket. It defies all laws of menu planning and has attained a special status in the world of hors d’oeuvres. So, unless your guests are 100% vegan, don’t feel bad about serving them.