The International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) released their “Top 10 Conference Food Trends for 2015” report this week, following research culled from 400 IACC members. Many of the food concepts, such as the preference for locally sourced ingredients, have been gaining momentum over recent years, but a few surprises also entered the industry as mainstream culinary concepts as well. Here is a breakdown of how F&B is expected to help planners deliver productive and inspiring meeting experiences this year.
Developing programs with a strong local immersion edge doesn’t stop at culinary; on the contrary, true-to-locality and culture cuisines are actually quite expected these days.
Networking Bite by Bite
Small plates continuously served in a reception format not only help main energy levels, but enable attendees to network to their heart’s content. Small plates create a causal environment regardless of the event format, allowing attendees to flitter around the room bite by bite to initiate or build relationships.
With wellness at the forefront of meetings and events small is the new big thing in culinary, especially in terms of desserts. Look to house creations—from mini cupcakes to house-made cookies to satisfy without packing on the pounds.
Attendees want guilt-free food that is also flavorful. Many chefs are accommodating this need through alternative proteins such as quinoa and tofu, whole grains and locally sourced vegetables. Smaller portions are also on the agenda, helping attendees find a nice balance of naughty and nice.
Cooking alongside colleagues is two-fold: few things bond people together more than good F&B; a culinary teambuilding experience also creates group synergy that can later find its way into the boardroom or other think tank.
Taking the reception, breakout session and other gatherings outdoors can give second wind to conference attendees, especially during multi-day meetings and events.
Hello to Finale
Whether it falls into ultimate climax or straight up “we survived” categories, the end of your meeting or event should be celebrated in a dynamic and stimulating a way that is also meaningful.
Gathering around a chef’s table, exploring interactive stations and chef encounters help attendees engage with their F&B in a way that is fun and meaningful. Local chefs can shed light on how the cuisine is sourced and prepared, why it is meaningful to locals, enticing attendees into a deeper connection with what ultimately sustains them.
Locally-infused microbrews are a hot commodity, especially in connection to other experiential options such as a sommelier or mixologist. Local brews tell a story, inspiring a deeper connection between attendees and their host city.
Infused Tea Cocktails
As the immense benefits of tea continue to come to light in the US, innovative tea concoctions, like a hibiscus tea martini for instance, are a fun, globally embraced alternative to your average toast.