ILEA Quick Tips For Event Planners: June 2016

Tips for using food to make meetings memorable.

When it comes to planning an event, a little creative menu planning is not only a natural conversation starter but also a great way to help make your event more memorable.  Here are five easy menu tips and tricks to help make your event stand out and have your guests saying “bravo!”
Theme your event. One of the easiest and most fun ways to enhance an event is to select a themed menu.  From an oceanfront beach bash to the northern great outdoors, creating a themed menu can make your event more energetic and exciting. For daytime meetings, incorporate healthier versions of your theme to avoid afternoon sugar slumps. If you are launching a new product or brand, incorporate color or graphic components in food presentation to complement your brand and generate excitement.

Think Seasonal. The time of year that your event occurs should play a large factor in determining food and beverage at your event. Take into consideration which items are in season for spring or winter menus. Incorporate seasonal or fresh menu selections when deciding on a menu.

Engage the senses. Select interactive chef stations where aromatic ingredients are prepped or sizzled in front of guests. Create different ways guests may be eating food: family style platters passed around the table; cushioned seating or pillows on the floor; or even outside seating on benches near a bonfire.  Work with a caterer who can focus on engaging all of the senses through sound, flavor, and presentation to entice your attendees. 

Go Local or Global.  Do your guests live local to your event or are they from another state, maybe even another country?  Think locally and showcase your event’s geographic location by selecting popular dishes from that area. If your event is in New Orleans, offer popular Creole dishes or fresh seafood.  Go “green” with foods locally grown within the area. Think globally by bringing international cuisine to your event. Introduce your guests to menu selections from locations around the world through various exotic food stations. Work with your vendor’s culinary staff for local or regional food ideas.

Play with Food. Create a culinary challenge for your guests as individuals or teams.  Whether it’s a chili cook-off, sushi rolling contest or a cupcake decorating challenge, your guests are sure to have fun creating competitive masterpieces. 
Maria Cabrera Hutera has over 15 years of event experience in the Twin Cities. She is currently a Meeting and Event Specialist at 3M in St. Paul.  She is also an active member in the International Live Events Association (ILEA) Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter.

International Live Events Association (ILEA) is the new name for the International Special Events Society (ISES).  ILEA represents and supports more than 5,000 members globally – event professionals who do business together, share knowledge, nurture talent and progress the live events industry. For more information on how an ILEA professional can help you with your event, please contact