How to Turn Your Event Catering into Food Art

Offer your guests a feast for the eyes with inventive food presentation

Memorable event food often needs more than just taste and texture. Offer your guests a feast for the eyes with inventive food presentation. With simple and inexpensive techniques, your event’s food preparation can impress even the most staunch foodie. From plating to dinnerware—and everything in between—you can transform the standard event catering dish into Instagrammable food art. 

Use any of our food presentation tips to set the mood, communicate your theme and delight your attendees:

Interactive Plating

Depending on your event’s budget or format, you can treat your guests to a live, custom plating experience by having dishes prepared at their tables or at a food station. Live food preparation is a popular service available in many restaurants and offers a significant bonus by entertaining guests—they become involved in the process of preparing their meals.

Live food preparation also has the benefit of helping you pare down your menu. Because live food prep works best with foods that do not require thermal processing, you can select dishes that can be chilled or easily assembled. For a simple setup, opt for salads, soups, fish dishes and prepped desserts. Go the extra mile by featuring flambé, hot stone cooking or a live grilling station. With larger parties, feature several skilled chefs and have them prep family-style meals.

Dinnerware Is Your Décor 

Let your utensils double as decoration! Order custom dinnerware to create an atmosphere of exclusivity and decadence for your guests. For a smaller party or meeting, print custom china, porcelain or stone dinnerware sets that feature your client’s logo or colors. For an inexpensive option, you can order collectible items like cups, mugs or forks that you can incorporate into the event’s meals. Encourage guests to take their new custom dinnerware home in their goodie bags!

Who Says You Need a Plate? 

Alternative plating is the latest trend sweeping restaurants around the globe. From hollowed pineapple bowls to marble stone slabs, chefs are discovering new ways to present their plates. Experiment with serving your meals in fruit shells (think watermelon bowls for fruit salads), Mason jars or pot lids, or on sanitized charcuterie boards. Serve tapas on jar lids or printed coasters. Try serving beverages out of Mason jars or novelty mugs, or look into a bouquet-style presentation for small desserts like cupcakes. The more creative, the better—but don’t forget to stick to your theme! 

Experiment with Garnishes

Exotic garnishes can enhance the presentation and taste of a simple meal. Sliced cucumbers, tomatoes r orange peels offer a neutral tone that fits into any taste profile and can be shaped into rosettes. Adding edible flowers like roses or dandelions to a dish can provide a refined touch. For desserts, dried fruit—like pineapples or melons—add a natural sweet touch. Or get a little showy by dusting dessert garnishes with powdered sugar or sugar granules for a crystalline effect.

Turn Food Stations into Installations

Transform your guests’ food preparation experience from end to end by stylizing your food stations. Decorative food stations can help fashion a specific atmosphere, enhance your theme and create memorable interactions with your menu. For example, create a narrative about your dishes by adding factoid information cards or explaining how you sourced your ingredients. Use your theme’s colors, graphic profiles, or logos to decorate your food stations. Switch up the event format by placing stations where your guests will never expect them (if you get particularly counterintuitive with your placement, consider adding signage). Collaborate with your venue for the best station setups.

When it comes to impressive food preparation, experimentation is key. Try changing at least one thing about your food plating for your next event to make an impact on your attendees.