Innovative Food Experiences to Elevate Your Next Event

Written by Louise Serpa Evanochko – Bel-Ayre Rentals Ltd.      |  |



Food stations are nothing new. But the new trends changing up the scene are elevating guest experiences and creating lasting impressions often without even compromising the budget.

The classic picture of the food station is a chef cranking out omelets or a carving station, the messy chocolate fountain or a flambéed dessert. More recently seen iterations are un-manned stations which gives guests a chance to interact, mingle, and let their inner foodie get creative.  The following are a few trends we’ve been seeing more often:

Donut Wall: Remixed

The dessert crowd pleaser has been around for a few years now. Step it up by adding a mix of plain donuts or mini donut kabobs to be topped with an assortment of fresh fruits, icings, sprinkles, crushed nuts, or even a filler gun.

Hack That Fountain 

Say goodbye to the temperamental chocolate. Commercial quality fountains with multiple heat settings open up a world of possibilities.  Breakfast buffet? Run some syrup through it for a waffle bar. Game night? Setup a wing bar complete with buffalo, BBQ or ranch flowing freely. Taco Tuesday just won’t be the same without a nacho cheese fountain.

You Did WHAT With The Sterno?

Save a few cans from the buffet line and crack them open create an interactive camping cookout. Roast hot dogs or marshmallows to make s’mores (better yet, some marshmallow shots for the bar). Don’t be surprised if your guests break out in a round of Kumbaya.

Be Your Own Barista

Let guests unleash their inner bartender by providing a base drink with a variety of garnishes. Mimosas, Bellini’s (don’t forget the slush machine), mojitos, or Caesar’s are great for swaying from the ‘signature’ drink trend to something more customizable.

Midway Madness

The Ex may have come and gone, but keep the carnival atmosphere alive with a popcorn station complete with freshly popped popcorn and several seasonings. Spin up some cotton candy with personalized flavourings or cool off with some shaved ice.

Thinking outside the box when it comes to your clients food experiences can help elevate the bland buffet or rubber chicken meal to something the guests will be talking about for a while to come.

Reducing Your Event Costs

Written by Robert Manchulenko  Chief Officer of Hospitality & Support Services Niverville Heritage Centre & EPM Treasurer

Besides your venue, décor, flowers, linen and food one of the most important choices is what type of bar service you would like to offer.

Some of the most popular choices for bar offerings will give you the celebration you are looking for without breaking your budget.

The first type and most popular is the “open bar” or “host bar”. Your guests can choose what they would like to drink without worrying about the bill at the end of the night. To keep this under control, consider limiting the types of beverages available to order and you can also place parameters on the service times. Don’t forget that you will be responsible for the bill at the end of the function and your guests will usually consume more.

The second most popular option is the “cash bar”. In this option, the guest is usually not limited as to the options and is responsible to pay for the beverage at the time of order. Most events of this type offer complimentary table wine, or you can offer a signature drink that you will cover.

A third option is to offer a “toonie bar” where the guests are responsible to pay two dollars for each beverage ordered and the difference is paid at the end of the night by the organizer of the event.

Another way of controlling costs would be to offer a combination of a “ticket bar” and a “cash bar”. In this method the organizer pays for a set number of tickets that they can hand out to the guests. Any beverages ordered above this will be paid by the guests. With this method, the tickets are paid in advance and are usually not refunded by the venue if unused.

In Manitoba some venues may also allow the event organizers to apply for a separate liquor licence and can purchase the beverages for service themselves. With this the venue will usually charge an hourly rate for the bartenders and may also charge a “corkage fee” calculated on the number of guests in attendance whether they are drinking or not.

Whatever your choice, also take into thought that beverage service comes with responsibility. All service staff should be trained in responsible alcohol service. (SmartChoicesMB) The law also prohibits overconsumption and monitors this responsibility with unannounced inspections. A designated driver program or arranging a safe ride home for your guests is something you should also think about.

In the end its all about creating an event you can be proud of that will create memories for all that attend. Enjoy!

How we Create Value as Event Planners

Video Review by Megan Steele

As I was perusing the magical world of the Internet the other day, I came across an interesting video about "How to Create Value For your Event Clients." What I specifically found interesting about it was that it was just a simple conversation between two Event Professionals. Now, this video is more targeted towards newer planners, but I think it is a great reminder of where some of our seasoned EPM members may have started.  

The video features Alex Cheung, who actually started the Toronto Special Events Network while he was in school. Alex discusses how he started out, where he is today, and the pathway he carved to get there. The host of this video is Melanie Woodward of Event Planning Blueprint. The video is a little lengthy but is worth the watch. 

My favourite part of the video was the bit about the four pieces of the puzzle which relate to obtaining referrals: Show up on time, Do what you say, Finish what you start, and Say PLEASE & THANK YOU. It sound so incredibly simple, but goes such a long way. As I navigate through my own Event Planning career and grow, I think it's important to talk, learn, and connect. And that's exactly what I feel I get from my membership with EPM and chatting with all of you!