Serve Street Food Like a Local

Offer guests culturally diverse cuisine at your next event

One of the best ways to open up guests to different food experiences is to offer street food. It’s one of the most authentic ways to taste different cultures, but it can be hard to replicate the exquisite flavors and the cultural experience around them once you leave their country of origin. 

Here are a few tips on how to use street food to take your guests to another world:

Craft the Menu with Care

Street food from around the world comes in all flavors, sizes and shapes—and deciding which fare to bring to your guests will depend on the meeting itself. If you’re hosting a networking event, you’ll want the food offerings to be mobile, so consider finger foods like Argentinian empanadas (savory stuffed pastries) or mini Vietnamese banh mi (sandwiches served on baguettes). But if there is opportunity for guests to sit and eat, try something like Chinese dim sum (a combination of steamed buns, dumplings and rolls served in baskets) or Indian aloo chaat (a spiced potato dish with chutney), though the possibilities are endless.

Hire an Experienced Team

Cooking isn’t easy, and it often takes a certain expertise—both in the kitchen and in the culture the food is from—to prepare specific dishes. If you’re serving Japanese ramen, for example, you’ll want to hire a ramen chef who understands the nuances of the dish, like how it is meant to be slurped rather than sipped. This kind of information is extremely valuable when it comes to creating recipes that preserve the integrity and authenticity of the food. 

When looking for the right vendor, talk with the chefs directly about their cooking style and ability to produce the dishes you’d like to see on the event menu. Learn about their recipes, and taste test them if possible.

Find the Right Setup

The specific zest of street food is the star of the show, but how you display those offerings can have a big impact on not only a guest’s desire to eat the food, but also the way that they think about the culture it comes from. Once you have the menu down and your staff hired, think about how locals might serve their food. Does it come in a certain box or carton? What utensils are culturally appropriate to use? To make your street food authentic, serve the cuisine in accordance to the country’s plating style. If funds allow, consider building a food station to replicate how and where food might be served, such as a bike vendor or market stall. You’re striving for cultural representation while making every effort to avoid stereotyping—ideally, street food setups should get the stamp of approval from people who are a part of the society you’re portraying.

Food is a great way to bring guests together, and offering street food can help paint the picture of another culture. As long as you do your research, you can represent a country and its food authentically in a way that will impress guests and keep them coming back for future events.