Corporate and Special Event Planning

The Plated Dinner

The Plated Dinner
Its 4 weeks out and invites are sent, menu is planned, shopping list is ready…. Or maybe you are having it catered!  No matter the occasion, let’s look at the pros and cons of the plated meal versus the buffet. 
If you are having your sit down meal catered, be sure to work with the caterer to design your menu and keep the budget in mind.  Have them help you select dishes that will look beautiful (like this seafood salad starter) and be well like by the majority of the guests.  
Be sure to use white plates, so each dish stands out.  If local, and fresh is important be sure to work with someone that can fulfil that request.  If a tasting is important, be sure to request that from the chef. 
A sit-down meal is more formal, and your guests should feel catered too.  Yes they will have less selection but it can be more cost effective as portion sizes are controlled, and they don’t have to wait in line, as they would at a buffet meal.  Also remember that a plated meal takes more time to be served.  Generally plan on 2 hours for 4 courses. 

If you are having a sit down meal in your home, have you tried a travelling dinner?  I have a friend who did this twice a year with her neighbour friends; they would each have a course in their home, as they lived all in the same neighbourhood and could walk house to house.  I LOVED this idea, however, living in the country, it wouldn’t work out so well with my group of friends, so my spin on it was to have everyone come to my place and each couple still provide 1 course.  You can rotate who was responsible for which course, and who hosted throughout the year depending on how often you had this dinner.   It is always the easiest for the house hosting to do main course, as it usually has the most ingredients and prep involved, then someone provides an appetizer and a pre dinner cocktail, another couple provided a soup and wine pairing, another couple provided a salad and wine pairing, and then a dessert and appertif….you can add as many courses as invitees.  Perhaps a cheese and fruit course?  A pre dinner hors d’ouevres? You get the idea!  Easily adaptable for 6 or seven couples.  Lots of fun, and everyone contributes, less work on one person! 

Do you have meals that you can just never forget?  Maybe you tried something new, or it was the celebration involved.  Well one such memory for me is when I attended a wedding in France in 2007, and it is a plated meal I will never forget, along with the venue (a chateau), and the people, and the before and after buffet selections, the food items I tasted for the first time, the whole 5 day event, and the logistics involved in planning from Canada…I could go on and on, but perhaps that is for another blog entry. I have included a picture of the table I sat at, but have misplaced my menu card, or I would share that also.  Essentially it started with the seafood plate, followed by a cold soup, followed by main course of duck, then a cheese plate, and finally was dessert. 

Never forget how important the details are, celebrating what is fresh and in season and even culturally relevant to you.  Remember what creates the lasting memories for not just you but your guests.
Running with the same theme as the gorgeous meal above here is a recipe for a King Crab and Potato Salad that I am sure you will love. You can find this recipe and other great recipes here, http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/king_crab_potato_salad.html
INGREDIENTS
  • 3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 1/2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, cut into eighths
  • 1 3/4 pounds cooked king crab legs, thawed if frozen (see Tip), meat removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 6 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

PREPARATION

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add beans and cook until bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander using a slotted spoon; refresh under cold water.
  2. Add potatoes to the boiling water. Cook until tender when pierced with a fork, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander; refresh under cold water until room temperature.
  3. Toss the green beans and potatoes with crab, celery, radishes and onion in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk garlic, lemon juice, vinegar and mustard in a small bowl; slowly whisk in oil. Whisk in basil, salt and pepper. Discard the garlic; pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

TIPS & NOTES

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
  • Tip: To defrost frozen lobster tails or crab legs, let thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Angela VanWingerden is a focused logistics dynamo with nearly 20 years of experience in the events industry. Since obtaining her BA of Commerce in Hospitality from the University of Guelph in 1998, she has built an impressive portfolio of weddings, corporate events and fundraisers for hundreds of satisfied clients. Angela enjoys the entire event planning process from chaos to order and back again. An avid trouble-shooter, Angela has her finger on the pulse of every event she manages. When on-site, she constantly monitors every element of the event to ensure client satisfaction. Angela works closely with staff and volunteers to ensure that they know what their duties are and she provides oversight at the event itself to ensure that all responsibilities and expectations are met. When she isn’t designing and coordinating awe-inspiring events, Angela loves spending time with her family.

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