by Danielle Andrews Sunkel
Food Stations are a much more fun and chic alternative to buffet tables. Set up 5 or 6 Chef- attended stations around the room, each featuring a different cuisine, served with it's own unique presentation. Below are pics from a wedding I had a bunch of Food Stations at.
You want to encourage people moving around and need to make it easy for them. Make sure there is lots of space and set up a variety of seating, backless couches, cafes tables with no more than 4 chairs, cruiser/cocktail tables to stand at, free-standing bars with stools, etc.
Here are some station ideas that pack WOW Factor:
Hot large baked potatoes coated with butter and sea salt with an assortment of cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon, green onions, salsa, whipped butter, etc.
RICE NOODLE WRAP STATION
Gusts can build a wrap of lettuce, glass noodles, bean sprouts, barbeque pork, shrimp, chinese sausage, carrot, dikon radish, peppers, mushrooms, coriander, mint, chopped peanuts, green onions and browned garlic served with sweet chilli sauce, peanut sauce and fish sauce
PAD THAI STATION
Chef will prepare thin rice noodles tossed together with guests' choice of shrimp, chicken, tofu, green onions and garlic in peanut sauce, topped with bean sprouts, peanuts and coriander, one company we know even puts it in Chinese take-away boxes with chopsticks.
Sushi rolled right there, before the guests.
A chef will prepare the guests' choice of pasta using a preselected assortment of pasta (usually 3-5 kinds) and sauce (usually 2-4 kinds)
with condiments such as basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil, mushrooms, red and green peppers, ham, prosciutto and baby shrimps, etc.
Served in bread bowls or a selection of soups served in shot glasses on a long rectangular plate.
STIR FRY STATION
Chef will prepare stir fried vegetables, chicken, beef, shrimp, in a wok and serve with steamed rice and teriyaki sauce. One company we know even puts it in Chinese take-away boxes with chopsticks.
Guests build their own using soft flour tortillas, taco shells and fried tortilla bowls includes grilled chicken, grilled steak, rice, re-fried beans, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa
As an hors d'ouevres station you could lay out Smoked salmon with all the proper accoutrements.
Catered Affare in Toronto, makes a station with salmon rolled with cream cheese on a lollipop stick, all the salmon pops are arranged upright ready for guests to come grab.
Assorted pizzas cooked right there on a slab of rock, heated from underneath. (called Hot Rock Pizza)
For the meal, you could have an Alberta Beef carving station or a full Turkey dinner spread with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Comfort food is very in style right now. I suggested this to my clients this summer and it was such a hit! 3 gourmet cheeses on homemade bread accompanied by sweet potato fries and an assortment of spiced ketchups and aolis.
Fries, all sorts of different gravies and sauces, different kinds of cheese curds, shaved smoked meat, smoked salmon.
Souvlaki, greek salad, greek potatoes in saice, basmati rice, babaganouj, hummus, tabouli served with pita triangles.
Assorted kebobs made with marinated meats and veggies, cooked on-site by a chef, a sure hit!
Set up a diner feel and serve hot dogs, chili dogs and hamburgers with tons of toppings, and of course fries. Another popular one is mini Bison burgers (called sliders) with sauteed onion and an assortmnt of higher end toppings, like chutneys, dijon and homemade chipotle ketchup.
Set up a two sided salad bar just like at restaurants.
VODKA BAR with LUGE
For an elegant, trendy look only have a vodka bar with an ice luge. Use proper glasses for each drink (ie. high balls, martini, hurricane, etc) Clients will pay less as they are only using vodka as the base of the drink, but guests will be impressed with the display and the fantastic martinis and drinks they can get.
ICE CREAM SUNDAE BAR (So fun for guests!)
You wouldn't believe how this bings out the kid in everyone. You can have a soft serve machine or a couple types of ice cream in a freezer, than tons of candy, sprinkles, cookie pieces, chocolate bars crushed, sauces (hot and cold), bananas, cherries, etc.
The chef torches the sugar right in front of the guests!
CREPE & WAFFLE STATION
Seletion of items for the crepes or toppings for the waffles, with different sauces.
Have a barrista create delicious coffees like at a cafe using the flavoured syrups and a real espresso machine.
OTHERS: Oyster bar, Shrimp cocktail on an ice sculpture, Wine tasting bar, Beer tasting bar, Scotch tasting bar, Korean BBQ station, Indian Station, etc.
The possibilities are endless, you just need to figure out what your couple likes and brainstorm ways to make it fun!