We’ve all eaten from buffets. Sometimes we struggle with how get a small sample of everything on our plates and sometimes we struggle with how to serve enough to fill everyone’s plates.
Here are a few secrets I’ve learned over the years when preparing a buffet:
1. Use small plates and let folks come back several times. If you serve large plates, folks try to fill them. If you use small plates, they will get filled. Some folks will come back for seconds. Some will not.
2. Place the silverware and napkins at the far end of the buffet. It’s very difficult to carry a plate, silverware and a napkin while trying to place food on your plate. If guests can pick up their silverware and napkins at the end, they’ll be able to better put the food on their plates.
3. Place desserts on a separate table. An overcrowded buffet table is not appetizing. If you have space, put your main foods on one table, your beverages on a second table and your desserts on a third table.
4. If you have guests with any type of dietary restrictions coming, consider placing small cards next to each item. Perhaps one dish has peanut oil in it. Your card can say “contains peanut oil” so that anyone with an allergy to peanuts will pass on this dish. If you know someone does not eat dairy, and your dish contains cheese, your card can say “contains cheese” or “dairy product”.
5. Have a garbage can very handy so that folks will throw out their plates and start over with a clean plate when they come back for seconds. I’ve attended a few parties where we had to ask for the trash can.
6. Make ice ahead of time. Some folks really like ice in their drinks. Put tongs in the ice bucket. This will discourage folks from using their fingers.
7. Put serving utensils in every dish. There’s nothing worse than someone taking a fork from their mouth and using that fork to serve themselves from your buffet table. If you are serving fruit, either put a fork or colored toothpicks out, again so that your guests are not using their meal silverware or fingers to pick up the fruit.
Buffets are a lot of fun to serve. Your guests will enjoy their meal more with the above secrets for your buffet table.