In the spring and summer we tend to eat lighter and lighter. Hors D oeuvres and Grazing stations are a good alternative to the buffet or plated service.
What is the difference in Grazing stations and Hors D oeuvres?
I consider Grazing stations a place for your guest to drop buy and have a little snack through out the event. It’s a good place to put things that would not pass well. Things like Dips with Chips, Hummus and Pita, Sliced Cheeses with fruits and crackers Vegetable crudités and seasonal fruits ect...
Some stations are heartier then others. And some are attended. Perhaps carved meat served to make little sandwiches. Or Light Pasta station.
Grazing stations are not a buffet of little bite size items. Food should not be out for an indefinite period of time. It should be kept at the proper thermal temperature to make sure it is safe to eat. Hot food hot cold food on ice. Two hours is long enough to have food out for consumption. Maybe start with some tray passed for the first hour then open a few stations. The finish with a nice dessert station.
Hors D Oeuvres are best tray passed. I think of Hors D oeuvres to be one or two bites. Preferable with nothing to discard like a pick or shrimp shell. The items should be assembled and served within the shortest period of time. If you are planning on bite size Hors D oeuvres to offer before a bigger meal the number of units will be dictated by the time. If you are planning a thirty minute cocktail party three should suffice, an full hour you will need at least five. If you are not planning a meal to follow serve at least ten items per guest. Plan five different items with two of each item per guest.
Never mix the assortment on the same tray as it will take longer to explain each one when they are offered and they will not stay hot and fresh.
Sweep the room with the same Hors D Oeuvre and then the next .
All the servers are offering the same thing to all the guests at the same time. .
Select a tray size that will hold only enough for five to seven minutes of passing.
This way the Hot ones will stay hot and cold ones cold.
Tray presentation is very important.
Gone are the days of paper doilies on silver plated trays. Be creative. Votive holders are a nice way to serve an item in sauce, Line your trays with black rice, green onions, a big tomato with fresh basil and a head of garlic to serve Bruchetta from.
A simple big flower that matches the center pieces on the tables. The garnish should be something that is in the Hors D Oeuvre or something that represents the décor of the event.
Some thing to consider is the seating for Hors D oeuvres and Grazing stations. Standing height tables are best and no more seating then one third of your anticipated guest. The idea is to mix and mingle. Not sit and dine together.