What Is Banquet Service?
There are many ways to dine outside the home: restaurants, cafeterias, fast-food chains, concession stands at ballparks, even gas station food stops. In all likelihood, you've probably also encountered a conference, meeting, or event, such as a wedding, with food service available to attendees. Most frequently, these types of events are classified as banquet service.
A banquet service is typically nothing more than a more elaborate meal due to the scope of the event or size of the crowd present. Logistically, since you can't squeeze a conference room full of people around a standard dining room table, banquet service fits the bill.
Banquet service can be as varied as the style of the event and, usually, the type of service is somewhat decided by the extent of the event, menu, and crowd. Here are a few types of banquet service arrangements that are common to banquet providers, such as caterers, hotels, and banquet halls.
There are various types of banquet services you might experience if you're attending a conference or event. They are sometimes dependent on the size of the event or the menu itself. For example, plates being distributed by servers should be easy to handle, such as foods without sauces.
Buffet service is very common in events with large numbers of attendees. Guests pass through a buffet line that features food choices on tables separate from the seating area. Guests serve themselves, which allows for convenience in choosing what an individual wants to eat. They then return to their table to eat. Beverages are typically delivered and refilled by attendants.
Finger food and appetizers are presented in a buffet-style arrangement where guests can serve themselves. These are generally gatherings where people mill around the room while eating and chatting.
3. Food Stations
Food stations, or action stations as they're sometimes called, include a variety of courses and offerings to guests. Many times these stations are manned by chefs who are cooking or preparing food in front of guests. Popular choices for these stations include meat carving, pasta bars, sushi stations, and desserts.
Cafeteria-style banquet service is very similar to a buffet, where guests stand in line to choose their food. However, in cafeteria service, workers or servers dish food from the buffet line. This helps control costs since workers have control over portion sizes
In this service, guests are seated and servers bring food already portioned onto plates directly from the kitchen. This is the most efficient type of banquet service and also the least expensive. You'll frequently see this style at formal events such as weddings, where guests have been asked their choice of protein (beef or chicken, for example) and plates are assembled and sorted by those requests.
Common internationally, family-style service features seated guests with large quantities of food in plates or bowls brought from the kitchen and placed at the table. Guests serve themselves and pass the food around the table.
If you show up at an event and the food is already on the table, you've experienced a pre-set service. This is frequently seen with items such as bread rolls, desserts, salads, and beverages. Main entrees generally are brought out from the kitchen in this configuration.
Setting and staging a nice event is only half the battle; serving guests with appropriate standards and etiquette is equally as important. Standards incorporate the ways in which staff and servers present themselves and food to guests. Here are some basic guidelines for ensuring the satisfaction of event guests. Keep in mind that standards may vary based on the type of event or the organization serving as the caterer or banquet provider.
- Give guests the right-of-way by allowing them to go first. Direct them to appropriate areas, as needed, including accompanying them to the location.
- Serve drinks to the right of seated guests, and plated food from the left.
- Handle stemware glasses by the stem, never by the glass or rim.
- Ensure that beverages are filled more than half full.
- Use trays for table service, and always carry above the shoulder. Remove from the banquet floor when no longer in use.
- Serve salad on a chilled plate.
- Serve courses in the appropriate order, clearing the previous course and silverware beforehand.
- Don't reach across guests to clear tables or place food.
- Communicate with fellow workers in a professional manner.
- Address guest concerns and requests promptly and efficiently.
You've probably been to some type of banquet service, which is an elaborate meal found at events like conference meetings, weddings, and parties. Banquet service comes in all types of formats, including buffets, in which guests pass through a buffet line that features food choices on tables separate from the seating area; receptions, in which finger food and appetizers are presented in a buffet-style arrangement where guests can serve themselves; food stations, also called action stations, which include a variety of courses and offerings to guests; and cafeteria-style service, in which workers or servers dish food from the buffet line. Events may also be laid out in seated-style service, including plated, in which guests are seated and servers bring food already portioned onto plates directly from the kitchen; family-style, which features seated guests with large quantities of food in plates or bowls brought form the kitchen and placed at the table; and pre-set, in which the food is already on the table. Standards incorporate the ways in which staff and servers present themselves and food to guests. Some basics to keep in mind include serving guests' food and beverages from their left and right, respectively, and ensuring that beverages are at least half full. Direct guest inquiries appropriately and with promptness and efficiency.