How to Prepare for a New World of Food and Beverage at Events

Here’s a host of questions to ask — and what to require — when planning your next menus, room sets and more.

How to Prepare for Food and Beverage at Events Meetings Conferences Coronavirus COVID19

The past few months have been tough for our industry. A lot has changed and will forever be changed, including how we serve food and beverage at events. Personally, I hope (and think) we will get back to having fancy buffet displays, preset salads and desserts, and passed hors d'oeuvres, but it will take a while. 

According to a recent Dataessential survey, 74 percent of respondents said safety and health are the biggest factors preventing them from dining out in restaurants. The study also revealed that nearly 40 percent of consumers are worried about touching items others have touched, 15 percent are worried about how staff are preparing and handling food, and 43 percent said self-serve salad bars and food bars were seen as "too risky." While this was based on consumers eating out at restaurants, I think we can safely translate those same concerns to event food-and-beverage experiences as well.

So, as you begin think about what hosting the next meal function might look like for your organization, I wanted to share some information and guidance that I have collected by talking to chefs and food-service experts at large hotels, conference centers and catering companies. 

To be quite frank, no one really knows all the answers, but what is crystal clear is that communication, transparency and visible food-safety practices are key. Read the full story on for what to add to your catering checklist, how to vet your food-service providers and more. 

Tracy Stuckrath has discussed the future of F&B in a Northstar Meetings Group webcast. Listen to it here!

Tracy is an event planner, speaker, food-safety consultant, food-allergy experts, inclusivity strategist and industry changemaker. Now president/chief connecting officer for Thrive! Meetings & Events, Tracy says her true calling was born from personal experience as a food-allergy sufferer. She now works to educate venues and planners on how serving safe, delicious and nutritious food for all at events.