Abigail Kirsch Catering spaghetti and meatballs Photo courtesy Abigail Kirsch Catering
Abigail Kirsch Catering's take on spaghetti and meatballs.

Forecast: The Food Scene for 2018

Caterers share what’s on the menu for the coming year--look out for classic spins and a veggie vibe.

Keeping it Classic
The old adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same” continues to drive menus for 2018.

“We enjoy repurposing classics into contemporary dishes,” says Alison Awerbach, partner and executive chef at New York-based Abigail Kirsch. “Guests get excited about sampling updated versions of retro favorites.”

Brussels Waldorf salad bites—roasted Brussels sprouts leaves filled with house-smoked chicken, apples and pecans topped with green apple gelee served on gluten-free crostini—pair perfectly with a savory short rib pie, which layers sweet potato mash with grass-fed barbecued short ribs and a cornbread crust inside a mini Mason jar.

The classic dish spaghetti and meatballs takes form as finger food in mini baked spaghetti and Parmesan custard cups filled with arugula pesto and a tiny meatball drizzled with heirloom tomato glaze and topped with frizzled basil and ricotta salata [in photo above].

Even the simple soft pretzel gets a makeover. Suspendec from umbrellas carried by waitstaff, the baked bites are served with a squirt of honey grain mustard, smoky cheddar or chocolate caramel sauce.

Los Angeles-based Kensington Caterers deconstructs everyone’s favorite bar food—Buffalo wings—into an upscale appetizer garnished with white celery batons and Cashel Blue cheese mousse.

Speaking of pub fare, Awerbach puts a twist on the slider with her ramen burger bite—an Asian-spiced micro burger topped with kimchi relish and miso shiitake ketchup on a tiny noodle cake. At Blue Plate Catering in Chicago, eating your peas and carrots is defined by an amuse bouche of heirloom carrot gelato with cracked freeze-dried peas served vertically on a bed of wheatgrass.

Los Angeles-based Good Gracious Catering and Events puts a spin on classic entrees such as beef Wellington (grilled beef tenderloin with locally grown wild mushrooms, caramelized cipollini onions, pommes Anna and tiny haricots verts with a puff pastry lattice) and fish and chips (pan-seared sable cod with pureed sweet pea mash and fingerling potato chips dusted with vinegar snow). The ubiquitous carving station of the ‘70s and ‘80s gets a millennial update with meats such as lamb chop lollipops, rib-eye steaks and pork blade chops—all cut extra thin for small-plate service. 

A Vege-centric Vibe
Dietary restrictions aside, vegan and/or vegetable-based dishes continue to be more menu mainstay than after-party afterthought.

“We focus on creating great tasting bites with bursts of flavor that are also very healthy, including some really interesting vegetarian appetizers that go beyond the typical salad elements,” says Awerbach. Two new appetizers for 2018 include quinoa tossed with smoked mozzarella, tomato, grapefruit and herb salad with cucumber dill sauce along with a poppadum crisp, and raisin-nut crostini topped with burrata, roasted winter squash and pomegranate and toasted pumpkin seeds.

“We’ll continue using clean, exotic flavors to make lighter, less guilt-inducing but satisfying dishes,” adds Richard Mooney, president of Kensington Caterers, citing a vegan coconut milk and dark chocolate bread pudding as a wholesome new dessert staple. His vegetarian appetizers include shaved green asparagus salad with toasted rye bread crumbs and lemon truffle olive oil, and a Tuscan frittata “cupcake” with roasted globe artichokes and fennel-shallot custard

At Blue Plate Catering, chef Randal Jacobs finds great success with his broth siphon stations, where Asian-style broths are infused real time in siphon glasses then poured to order over fresh noodles and vegetables. 

See the full story in the Winter 2018 issue of Special Events, available only to subscribers. Not a subscriber? We can fix that--just click here.

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