Follow These Tips for a Flawless Event Meal

Sponsored by: The Gaillard Center

How do you make a few hundred people happy with one meal? Anyone planning a wedding reception, conference luncheon or awards dinner knows that's the million-dollar question. It's no small task to put together a three- or four-course meal that suits a wide variety of taste buds.

One way to make your event a success is to work with a venue that can accommodate a large group and specialty items. Usually a good rule of thumb is to avoid ordering 100 plates of filet mignon. It's impossible for the staff to prepare that many on time.

That's not the case with the new Gaillard Performance Center's Exhibition Hall, which can seat 1,200 people. Can it really dish up 1,200 plates of filet mignon? Yes, sir. The center's state-of-the-art venue has a dedicated banquet kitchen and service area equipped to serve a large crowd of people who want their filet mignon cooked to perfection.

Yes, you can order soup for the first course and it will arrive hot. Yes, you can serve ice cream for dessert and it will not arrive at the tables in a puddle.

Once you've established the venue can handle your crowd for lunch or dinner, it's time to determine what to serve. Here are few points to consider:

Think about your guests and their preferences. Do most of them prefer simplicity or high-class? Would they appreciate a menu heavy on veggies or are they a meat and potatoes crowd? If tastes vary widely, you might think about having a buffet if it fits the style of your event. You can have a few more options and it makes menu planning a little easier.

Offer a main menu but have options for dietary restrictions. Every event menu should have choices for vegetarians, those with lactose intolerance or gluten allergies. When they register or RSVP, be sure to ask guests to share any dietary concerns so you can be prepared.

Go seasonal, local if you can. The Charleston community is big on eating local and supporting area farmers. So, if possible, work with your venue to create a menu that reflects seasonal fruits and vegetables and locally sourced meats. It’s one way to celebrate your community and add a truly local flavor to your event.

First impressions matter. You’ve spend a lot of time working with the venue to create the perfect menu and you don’t want that hard work spoiled by a sloppy presentation. Whether a plated meal or a buffet, the food should look and smell delicious. That goes back to the initial point about working with a venue that can serve a large crowd and maintain a high level of quality. The food shouldn’t look as if it’s been sitting on the plate for two hours. The lettuce shouldn’t be wilted. The vegetables should be piping hot.

By working closely with a venue, considering the preferences of your guest and taking the time to put together a first-class menu, you'll be guaranteed to create a meal that leaves your guests asking for seconds.