ILEA Quick Tips for Event Planners: October 2017

Making events memorable through food.

When it comes to planning an event, a little creative menu planning is not only a natural conversation starter but also a wonderful way to make it a memorable experience. Here are five easy menu tips that will have your guests saying, “well done!”
Themed menus. One of the easiest and most fun ways to enhance an event is with a theme 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. Use interactive Chef Stations where aromatic ingredients are prepped or sizzled in front of guests. Create diverse ways for guests to eat food: family style platters passed around the table; flying dinner menus (i.e. passed miniature dinner plates of food); cushioned seating or pillows on the floor; outside seating on benches near a bonfire with s’mores. Work with a caterer who can focus on engaging all the senses through sound, flavor and presentation.
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 venue’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 chopping salsa ingredients, sushi rolling or decorating cupcakes, your guests are sure to have fun creating competitive masterpieces.

A Minnesota native, Maria Cabrera Hutera, CMP, has been passionate about building spectacular event experiences in the live events industry for the past 16-plus years. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Capella University and a Certified Meeting Professional credential (CMP) from the Events Industry Council. Maria is an active member of International Live Events Association (ILEA) and serves as the 2017-2018 President for Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter’s Board of Directors. Maria currently resides in Eagan, Minnesota.

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 — industry 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