We’re almost halfway through the year, and Paramount Events has been busy serving innovative cuisine and custom menus at events throughout Chicago. The catering and food service industry is constantly evolving, and we’re always looking for new inspiration to create even better offerings for our customers that meet the expectations of each coming year. Keep an eye out, because these ten catering trends of 2019 are a must for your next event with Paramount.
- Local Spirits
Artisanal and craft spirits and brews are distilled all over Chicago, sourcing much of their ingredients from local businesses or using water directly out of Lake Michigan. At your next big event, guests aren’t expecting beverages that contain the same alcohol they can buy at home. Large name alcohol brands just aren’t going to cut it anymore, and guests will expect the flavors of the microbrewery down the block and the distillery just minutes away. When incorporating local flair into the menu and bar, guests will appreciate new offerings that divulge from the usual, and it will make your unique event more memorable.
- Inclusive Dietary Options
A variety of dietary options is more important than ever, with 6 out of 10 Americans reporting having a dietary restriction. The best menu options at events are those that are gluten-free and vegetarian in order to serve the largest amount of people, but this isn’t always the most realistic. What we recommend in choosing from a variety of meat, gluten-free, and vegetarian/vegan hors d’oeuvres, entrees, and desserts so that each guest feels welcome at your event. As most vegetarians will tell you, not having to bring an extra snack or leave feeling hungry will be incredibly appreciated. Most importantly, caterers must be able to understand dietary restrictions as more than just a “preference,” and instead as a medical necessity with all the precautions that come with that classification.
- Fresh raw seafood
Raw seafood has been around in one form or another at American events for decades. Sushi and poke bowls were both huge new trends in the past, and continue to dominate the food scene at events around the country. The latest rendition of raw seafood offerings comes in the form of crudo and tartare. Crudo is slices of raw fish that differs from sashimi in that flavored oils and seasonings are infused in order to better highlight the flavor of the fish. Occasionally restaurants and caterers will refer to ahi crudo for example, as ahi carpaccio, though there is little difference between the two. Tartare is a dish that like crudo or carpaccio, can be made with raw meat or fish. An ahi tuna tartare will feature finely chopped pieces of fish arranged with flavored oils, vegetables, and typically avocado arranged in a small cylindrical shape. These dishes provide a level of sophistication to your event that will impress guests and expand their food palettes beyond the typical offerings of a catered affair.
- Fermented Foods
Similar to the raw seafood phenomenon, Asian flavors and ingredients have made their way into the American diet through fermentation. Beyond the typical pickles or beer, fermentation is the cause for drinks such as kombucha and dishes like kimchi. Kombucha is a fermented tea that originates from northern China and has become all the rage for foodies and health enthusiasts alike due to its high concentration of probiotics. Similar to a strong alcohol, the taste is acquired, but can incorporate practically any other flavor such as fruits and florals. Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine, and made from pickled (fermented) cabbage, radish, and plenty of garlic and ginger. Just like kombucha, kimchi is full of healthy gut bacteria, and as a bonus includes high concentrations of vitamins A, B, and C. These foreign foods may be entering the mainstream, but including them at an event is unique and sure to create a lot of conversation.
- Food Trucks
Closer to home, food trucks are an all-American concept. Though they were first spotted selling grub to the covered wagons trekking across the prairies to the west, today’s food trucks serve some of the most innovative dishes in the industry. A great addition to any event is food trucks at an outdoor space, where guests can mingle and enjoy food offerings from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds. Food trucks also help to create a more casual setting for an event, instilling in guests the mood and flow of the entire occasion. When looking to entertain while allowing guests to choose from an assortment of options, food trucks are a perfect accessory.
- Plant-based meats
While many people choose to fully align their dietary lifestyles around never consuming meat or animal products, the rise of the “flexitarian” has transformed the food industry to accommodate more meat-free options. Though these meat-free options can certainly target vegetarians and vegans, plant-based proteins allow those that still consume meat on occasion to transition easier between meat and plants. The largest companies creating these meat-free substitutes are Impossible Foods and Quorn, offering a variety of products from plant-based sausage and chicken breasts, to ground beef and hamburger patties that are practically identical to the real thing. The best part about these products is that some have become so unidentifiable from the original product that an entire event can be vegetarian without upsetting the extreme carnivores in your life.
- CBD Cocktails
Though cocktails with a long list of high-end ingredients and steps are a 2019 trend in their own right, the most talked about new ingredient of the year is CBD, or cannabidiol. An extract from the marijuana plant, CBD is much different than THC, the psychoactive extract responsible for the stereotypical effects of marijuana. In contrast, CBD can ease pain, inflammation, and anxiety without the “high” that comes with traditional marijuana. And though cannabis will be legal in Illinois in 2020, CBD is a legal hemp product across all 50 states. Vendors across the country have begun to offer CBD oil as an additive to coffee, tea, and cocktails, so including the option at your next event is sure to impress even the most food-savvy of your guests.
- Eliminating Waste
In the United States alone, consumers dispose of over 30% of the total food supply every year, a sum of 133 billion pounds and $161 billion of food wasted. This statistic alone is why Paramount Events is a company dedicated to sustainable food practices and eco-friendly packaging. The garnishes for our cuisine are grown entirely within our own on-site greenhouse, where we also look to grow as much of our own produce as possible. The rest of our ingredients are sourced from local farms and purveyors in order to reduce transportation times and limit our total carbon footprint. Most importantly however, is that our thousands of customers every year consume our food using entirely recyclable or compostable packaging. Single-use plastics are one of the most harmful pollutants on the planet, damaging our oceans and choking precious wildlife. Our goal at Paramount Events is to reduce our single-use plastic consumption to zero, because we lead by example and believe this initiative is one of the most important aspects of our green business.
Despite the negative tone that has been cast upon doughnuts in recent years, the fried dough pastry has persisted and reemerged as a delicious dessert option at many events. Many doughnut companies have improved the quality of the pastry, and begun to include more experimental ingredients such as sesame, salted caramel, pistachio, and even savory flavors like cheese and bacon. Presentation of the doughnut has changed too, and it’s not uncommon to see a doughnut wall, complete with ten flavors that encourage guests to choose their favorite from a peg. No matter the size or occasion of an event, the doughnut is a reinvigorated classic that is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.
It’s everywhere. Matcha lattes, ice creams, smoothies, and candies. If you can dream it, matcha can be added. This green superfood was made into tea by ancient Chinese Buddhists, and the powder quickly spread through Asia as a ritual ingredient in tea ceremonies. The stone-ground green tea leaves create a vibrant green powder that can be added to practically any recipe, which is good news for your event. Just like Asia, the world has become obsessed with the green tea flavor, and now every bakery and cafe feature a matcha flavored product. At weddings, matcha flavored desserts are a popular treat, and bubble tea stations are a recent addition to many trendy weddings looking to entertain guests from start to finish. No matter the dish that matcha is added to, the delicious powder is guaranteed to create a delicious earthy flavor with a beautiful green finish.