Sunday, December 29, 2013
A practical guide to preparing for a buffet party
A buffet party is certainly the fun answer to most home entertainment woes when more than eight people are invited. It can be just as impressive as the more conservative sit-down menu if some articulation is afforded on aspects such as presentation and display of the food. A buffet table should also provide the perfect excuse for impressive settings, perhaps with swags of flowers or greenery as well as a large main decoration. The food should be decorative too and must be arranged for ease of access when guests serve themselves.
Depending on the space available you could either place the buffet table against a wall in order for guests to move along in front of the table and serve themselves or situate it in the middle of the room so that guests can move around the table. No matter the system, there should naturally be a starting point for serving indicated by a pile of platters. Furthermore, a buffet set against a wall, the main decoration should be at the rear of the table and positioned centrally. When guests are walking around the table the decoration should be placed in the centre for maximum effect. The buffet table should also be set in a cool, well ventilated place, away from radiators and covered with a protective cloth before adding the decorative linen as spillage is bound to take place.
Ensure that all dishes are easy to reach and there are serving spoons at hand. Any meat that needs carving should be set in a position to one side of the table so that your guests do not obstruct access to other dishes while they carve. Remember to also check the availability of foods, topping up dishes and tidying the buffet occasionally.
Set the napkins and cutlery separately on a side table while napkins should generally be used for informal buffets. Disposable plates should be sturdy and of good quality as thin plates could sag and make eating difficult. Or invest in large number of good quality, large plastic plates which are ideal for entertaining in large numbers. They are ideal for large parties and informal buffets as well and generally more practical than China plates.
The buffet table should be set with savoury items for the main part of the meal. Starters should be brought to the buffet at the beginning of the meal with the hosts assisting with it.
Serve the desserts and cheese from the buffet only once you have removed the main dishes. If set before clearing the main course then prepare a side table for them.
Implement sensible arrangements for receiving the used dishes and cutlery when preparing a buffet. Usually at large events some guests will be reluctant to bring their dishes to the kitchen so it would be a good idea to set up a trolley cart where these may be placed out of the way.
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How to avoid buffet pitfalls