In one of our previous blogs, we looked at the ideal menu options for a business conference. Food, in any type of event, is usually a determining factor in whether the event is a success or not. When deciding on having a working lunch at a conference, there are many factors that need to be considered, from the ease of eating and messiness to portion sizes. Here are 5 tips for serving a working lunch at a conference:
- ‘Lunch’ isn’t just lunch: Business has evolved and nowadays, hardly anyone does the 9 to 5, we are more of the 24/7 generation. We are no longer confined to just a mid-day meal or to set meal times during a conference. When hosting a conference where participants will be served a working lunch, be sure to offer other snacks, beverages, and meals around the allocated lunch time, in the same manner in which the lunch will be served. Depending on the size of the crowd and on the venue, choose between having self-service stations or waiters on standby. This should be done in a non-disruptive manner as that will take away from the conference.
- Objectives and Agenda: People often tend to forget the purpose of a conference or business event when food is added into the equation. When serving a working lunch at a conference, remember that the agenda comes first and that the lunch needs to work around it. Even if it is a working lunch, try and discuss less serious or lighter matters when the participants are eating. It may be a bit difficult to type or take down notes whilst eating, so be mindful of that when doing the agenda. Avoid having discussions or asking questions during the lunch as it is never okay to talk with food in your mouth. Although it is a working lunch, be sure to give the attendees time to take a walk and get some fresh air outside.
- How to serve the food: We have previously spoken about what types of food to serve at a conference, but what is more important, is how the food is served. Food should be served in small, easy to hold and easy to eat from dishes. Depending on the nature of the event, it is best to use ceramic dishes. It is always better to serve food off ceramic dishes, but this should only be an option if there will be staff on hand to come and collect these. Ceramic dishes being stowed away under chairs and in walkways may result in breakage and also it may be uncomfortable. Portion sizes should be small and there should be an option to ask for seconds. This will reduce wastage. Cutlery and serviettes should be easily accessible and it is always a good idea to serve mints or palate cleansers during a working lunch. This will ensure that there isn’t a large crowd of people getting up to use the bathroom at the same time. Look at slow release carbohydrate food options as these foods maintain energy.
- Timing: When serving a variety of dishes at a working lunch, be sure to give the participants enough time to finish the dish that they already have. People may feel uncomfortable to take another portion if they already have food and they may be shy to ask for more after. Pauses in between the courses will also allow them to digest their food better. Hot foods should also be served in a way which they are still hot when they get served.
- Easy eating: Foods should be easy and clean to eat; things that aren’t crumbly, that don’t leak and that can’t be messed easily. Pies, pastries and saucy wraps should be avoided. Foods that can be eaten with one hand, such as; veggie or fruit skewers, miniature sandwiches, mini pizzas or burgers are always crowd favourites.
Serving a working lunch at a conference can be quite challenging, but with the correct planning and by following the tips above, mealtime at your next conference is sure to be a success.