Think of the last great celebration you went to and then raved about with friends.  Most likely you talked about the clever decorations. You might have shared a funny antidote or two about the impromptu dance party that broke out.  But what you probably talked the most about was the food. That’s because whenever we attend a party, food is usually the most memorable part. The decor and presentation add to the experience because the first thing we do is eat with our eyes.  But the taste is what you remember.

If you are planning an upcoming event, you’ll want to choose the best caterer with a reputation for quality and great taste like Augustino’s Rock & Roll Deli & Grill, to help you create a menu that will be remembered for years to come and give your guests the time of their life.  Whether using a caterer, cooking everything yourself, or combining the two options, here are four of our favorite and creative catering ideas for your next event.

Give Guests Choices

Not everyone likes chicken, not everyone likes beef.  And there are definitely two camps on seafood. That’s why we typically suggest serving two different types of meats or proteins: poultry, beef, pork or fish are the most common options, but hearty vegetarian dishes are rising in popularity as well. You’re also going to want to take into consideration food allergies and dietary choices as well as any religious requirements.  With more and more guests choosing a meatless lifestyle and/or having serious life threatening allergies, a variety of foods is not only considerate, it’s crucial. There’s nothing worse than having someone look at your beautiful spread and ask ‘but what can I eat’.

In our family alone we have three vegetarians, a cousin with an egg allergy and a daughter who is gluten free.  Over the years it’s gotten easier to figure out what we can and cannot serve, as well as how to avoid cross contamination.  Our daughter can eat our Italian Beef (using the old family recipe) because it’s gluten free however we always need to set aside a portion for her prior to serving the rest to our guests.  This because guests love to literally dip their fresh french bread into the ‘gravy’ and slather on the beef. By putting some aside her portion remains uncontaminated and ready to pile safely on her own gluten free roll.  

At Augustino’s, one of the first questions we ask is ‘are there any guests with dietary restrictions or food allergies’.  This way we can steer our customers towards healthy and safe options while helping them identify just which items their food sensitive need to steer clear of.  Knowing ahead of time which items are ‘safe’ for your guests to eat is always greatly appreciated. For larger parties you can even go so far as to put little labels (like GF, V)  next to name of the item on a menu board or on little tags next to the food. Simple extra steps like these are easy and so very thoughtful and guests with special food needs are truly appreciative when hosts who go that extra step.

Create Your Own with Participative Food

Creating a fun food experience for your guests always leaves a great impression and one way to do this is by having a create your own section with food. Salad bars, create your own sandwich trays, pasta stations with a variety of choices are quick and easy ideas that are circling back in popularity.  Also Charcuterie trays are without a doubt blazing hot right now. This is because now more than ever people want to customize their food, yet they are also willing to try new things.  Take advantage of that and have fun! Pickle some carrots and or use rainbow cherry tomatoes instead of just plain red for your salad bar. Add a fun new cheese to your sandwich tray or Charcuterie.  Wander the aisles of the grocery store for different nuts, pickled items, mustards and ethnic spreads. Ask your caterer what little extra steps they can take to make their trays a cut above.

Dessert stations are also easy and fun for kids and adults alike.  They’re also a great way to use up all those random tiny jars of sprinkles and sugars that are hiding in the back of your cabinets.  In the summer you can use ice cream and in the winter swap it out for a hot chocolate bar, adding flavored liquors for the adults.

Have Fun with the Presentation

Presentation is everything.  And while food on a plate placed on a tablecloth is fine, we all can do better.  Pinterest has built an entire community around this premise! Start by looking at what you have in your own home - platters, bowls, cake risers.  You want to use these things to create layers and levels on buffet stations for your guests to see and explore the food you’ve chosen to serve. But don’t stop there.  Crates, decorative boxes, even books make great eye catching spots to place platters and help create to the different levels we’re talking about. Got an old record player and a bunch of albums?  They’d be perfect display props for a birthday party or milestone age related celebration. Nothing is off limits, so shop away in your own home. Recently we threw one of our daughters a winter engagement party.  For the buffet we used an old sled as part of the display in the center of the table. With a few extra boxes and table cloths the sled became the centerpiece of the table with platters of food on the lovely polished wood.    

Springtime and all it’s many celebrations (Communions, graduations, Baptisms, wedding and baby showers to name a few) is a great time to mix up colors and textures.  Bring out the china bowls and platters and mix up the patterns. Use your cutting board to display charcuterie or sandwich meats and cheeses. Butcher paper on the table or counter top is fun and a completely disposable idea that also allows you to just write on the paper instead of labels!   

Put dressings in jars, or decorative bowls or tea cups.   At Augustino’s we hollow a green pepper for the center of our veggie tray to hold dip because even the office lunch meeting deserves a little extra attention.  

Finally, Use the Talents of Others!

In every family there are those tried and true recipes and foods that no family gathering can live without.  It could be a pie, a cake, a pasta dish or the Mom’s secret potato salad. In ours it’s Gramma’s spinach and artichoke dip.  We’re salivating before it’s even out of the oven and hover shamelessly around the appetizer table until it’s gone. But just because your family can’t live without the artichoke dip doesn’t mean you have to do it all.   Use the talents of others so that you can concentrate making the details fun and creative.

HIring or at least incorporating a caterer into your menu planning is not only surprisingly affordable, it’s a good use of your time.  Go ahead and make the family pasta recipe, but hire out the salads and proteins. Make your famous eggplant lasagna, but order the salad and chicken parm. Our tag line at Augustino’s is ‘Don’t Make it, Make it Happen’ and even we follow that motto.   As a family we make the artichoke dip for our parties but order up trays of sandwiches for family gatherings. That’s because all day long, every day our staff makes sandwiches, really good ones, so why reinvent the wheel! Parties are supposed to be celebrations, don’t kill yourself trying to throw one.

In closing, the best parties combine fun decor, food choices that considers the needs of your guests, displayed in creative and interesting ways.  Which sounds like a lot, but doesn’t have to be. Use the talents of others so that you and your guests can enjoy the day!

Visit our website to see all of our options on our catering menu for your next event.

Augustino’s Rock and Roll Deli is a family owned deli operation dedicated to providing our customers with exceptional food, service, and value.  We create excellent food using the freshest ingredients available. We provide exceptional personalized service that is accurate, efficient and friendly.

At Augustino’s Rock & Roll Deli & Grill, we offer some of the best Italian specialties for any celebration. If you aren’t satisfied with the choices, we offer customization of the menu and even some family recipes so you find exactly what you are looking for to offer your guests to eat. Our catering menu is kid-friendly, has gluten-free options and features a wide variety of foods. So if you are looking for a fast-casual, carry out or dine-in restaurant option, Augustino’s Rock & Roll Deli & Grill is the place to go. Visit our website to see our full catering menu or give us a call to begin planning at (630) 665-5585.