Everyone pause for a moment and think about Thanksgiving. That time of year when family and friends reunite to celebrate life’s little and big blessings. Now, think about the food. If you are a member of a typical American household, you may well find yourself envisioning a traditional family-style service. The turkey is front and center on the table, carved and looking well-roasted. The veggies and side dishes surround the bird in separate bowls and platters, all to be passed to your neighbor in a loving and courteous manner. (Yes, I said loving and courteous… this is a day of thanks, everyone!) The spirit of this meal is unity: a bringing together of people in celebration and sharing. So, too, can this dinner service help to translate that feeling of unity you wish to achieve at your wedding or special event.
Over the past few weeks, I have been privileged to attend several weddings at which Royal Fig prepared family-style meals. This style of service has become very popular in the catering world, and understandably so. At each event, the guests can enjoy a plated first course, such as a crisp spring salad, while the main course is being prepared.
Soon after, the servers set each table with heaping platters and bowls of warm food straight from the kitchen.
And just like at Thanksgiving, the guests prepare their own plates with each item and then politely pass the platter to their neighbor. This is a time for the guests to relax, enjoy each other’s company, and have a common means of participating in this special day.
Now that you have a sense of what family-style is all about, let me itemize some of the pros and cons of this style of service to keep in mind when planning your event.
1) A real sense of community with others attending the event.
2) The full meal is brought to the table, so no interruption of the table’s conversation to go stand in a buffet line.
3) Atmosphere is more relaxed than a plated meal.
4) Food is served directly from the oven, instead of being overcooked in a chafing dish at a buffet.
5) The food acts as a colorful centerpiece to the table, saving money and time on large or elaborate arrangements.
1) More service staff is generally needed compared to a buffet. (But still less staff than a plated meal.)
2) Some caterers charge per additional platter used. (Although Royal Fig’s pricing remains the same!)
3) Some foods do not work well with family-style, as all dishes and platters must be passed. (This rules out the heavy dishes or hot dishes directly from the oven, like lasagna.)
4) If the couple or party planner has a vision for an expansive centerpiece, a larger table rental (72” round) will be necessary to accommodate the food platters.
5) This service style is very informal compared to a plated meal. Your vision for the event will dictate.
So, analyze these pros and cons of family-style and determine whether or not it fits in with your vision for the big day. But do realize that when you select family-style service for your wedding or special event, you will provide your guests with a sense of community at the table. A place where they can comfortably interact and reconnect as they share their food and their stories, at their own pace. Besides, what brings people together in celebration better than discussing the masterful preparation and colorful presentation of the Grilled Sockeye Salmon with Caper Buerre Blanc they are passing around the table?!