The Beauty of Tray-Passed Dining

Discover the serving style that lets guests mix, mingle, and enjoy.

Just as many wedding evenings get going with the energetic chatter during cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, we find many couples putting the breaks on their festivities. Mingling is interrupted by “Please find your seats, we’re about to begin the meal service.” Don’t get me wrong, formal dining is still the most common service style requested by today’s wedding couples. When done right, it is both classy and elegant. Yet, for some of today’s more adventurous couples, the cocktail hour is just the beginning. They want to carry this energy right through the meal and with our "Mix, Mingle & Enjoy" style of service, this is easily accomplished.

How? Through creative menu design, floor plans that create movement and service personnel who are dedicated to the concept as well. There are many menu and food presentations we can utilize to achieve our objective -- however, the one on the cutting edge is the four-course cocktail party. This concept involves recreating each course so that it can be easily served and consumed while roaming the party venue. Options are limited only by the chef’s imagination and your vision. Below is a sample menu and how it works.

Cocktail Hour: Passed Appetizers
You’ve seen hors d’oeuvres and cocktails before, nothing truly unique here. Just make sure you include a fun variety of both hot and cold items that compliment the courses to follow. The presentation should be as fun as the items themselves.

First Course: Standing Salad Service
The first course is announced by the servers as they work the room. In this case, a trio of delicious, bite-sized salads, such as mini Caesar in a pastry bowl, roasted pear and bleu cheese on Belgium endive and chopped greens with apples and walnut in a hollowed herbed crouton.

Second Course: Soup Shots
Tray-passed and served in tiny demi-tasse cups (think espresso size servings). The staff will circulate offering a variety of tasty and colorful soup options such as lobster and sweet corn bisque; yellow tomato gazpacho; and wild mushroom, foie gras and ale bisque.

Third Course: Seated Entrees
At this point, guests are invited to take a seat at tables where a meal served family-style awaits. The mingling will continue at the table as guests discuss the dishes and pass the platters to one another. Recent favorites include pan-seared Atlantic salmon with warm fingerling potatoes, tenderloin of veal with wild mushroom ragout and caramelized oven-roasted vegetables or flat iron steak atop sesame rice cakes with shimeji mushrooms and wasabi pepper sauce.

Fourth Course: Passed Desserts
Work with your pastry chef to create something unique and perfect suited for your event. Our suggestion: variety, and lots of it! An assortment of mini tastes of treats that complement the cake or in some cases, replace the cake all together.

As you can see, there are many options to the traditional sit-down dinner. Tray-passed courses offer so many opportunities to keep the energy level high and to ensure that everyone has a rich and memorable experience. It’s your party. Do what makes you happy but most of all remember to make time to mix, mingle and enjoy!

Opening photograph by KingenSmith

Authored by: Jim Wharton