Food and beverage continues to be a significant driver of cost and is growing annually in expense. A recent Destination Hotels survey found that F&B pricing was the third-most important factor in choosing an event location. Respondents rated it with either a 9 or 10 out of 10. Attendees expect planners to keep up with current trends and offer all options. It’s not enough to satisfy a single healthy option or a few attendees anymore. There needs to be gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, organic and locally sourced foods – everything from the breakfast buffet to the microbrew.


Created in 1998 to serve the meetings and conventions market, Wolfgang Puck Catering (WPC) has locations in major U.S. cities like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.


Vice president of sales for WPC, Stephanie Edens says the following are ways food is becoming more fun in 2017. So don’t just put all your emphasis on the same food and beverage formulas you’ve used for years and give some of these WPC updates a try.


1. Unique presentation. A block of ice with flowers frozen in it can serve as a sushi station. A donut wall lets guests choose their desserts from a vertical “platter.”


2. Interactive team-building exercises. From pickling vegetables with the chefs, to themed cake decoration classes, blind wine tasting bingo and teams competing and building cupcake towers. There is something for every crowd.


3. Artful displays. Maximize the time and experience, providing access to food and beverage throughout the day and not just at set meal breaks. Rotate and theme displays with the time of day.


4. Add entertainment. Have the chef prepare a meal behind a shadow box, saber champagne magnums at a company toast or ceremonially break the pastry of truffle chicken pot pies in front of each guest, enticing them with the aroma.


5. Small plate menus. Take lunch beyond the standard buffet with small plates that provide a great variety and are more visually appealing. Classic tapas plates, creative sushi trays, or mini comfort food stations are all great options.