What to serve at corporate hospitality events

Working in catering jobs can be both highly rewarding and stressful. There is plenty to think about – from the health and safety aspects of preparing food, to ordering adequate ingredients and ensuring deliveries run smoothly.

So how can you make sure that corporate hospitality events run efficiently for staff and guests alike? According to Paul Bates, executive chef at InterContinental's Park Lane hotel, the focus should be on giving the client good quality food that allows them to get down to business on a full stomach.

"Things like porridge – it's thought of as a superfood, but you can't really put this on at events, so we do an oat or oat and sultana cookie. We still do bacon sandwiches on occasion, but we try to reduce the fat," he explained.

"Same with sausages – instead of pork, we do chicken sausages – it's still comfort food, but not as calorie-high as some of the other stuff. One thing we do feature is a pandebono, which is a South American bread, made with crushed cornmeal and low-fat goat cheese. We serve that on arrival in the morning."

Mr Bates noted that when corporate hospitality guests are arriving for a whole day of seminars and conferences, the last thing they want to do is run out of energy. Therefore, it is wise to avoid serving pastries and high-carbohydrate pastas, as these will make people feel drowsy in the afternoon.

"You want high-protein foods and lots of fresh vegetables too – try to get the five-a-day in."

Those in chef jobs may relish the opportunity to flex their creative muscles when it comes to producing a menu for corporate hospitality events, but they should still bear in mind certain rules, says Cucina.co.uk's managing director Steve Quinn.

"Great taste, nutritional value and imagination in preparation and presentation must always be at the fore. That means giving trained, expert chefs proper time and resources to prepare and present attractive delicious food," he stated.

However, there is usually enough flexibility to plan a menu that incorporates new and exciting ingredients, such as superfoods. Mr Quinn suggests always preparing a fish dish that is rich in omega-3 – salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel are all ideal specimens.

"Blueberries and apples set among other fruits are also a good idea. I would always aim to incorporate foods high in unsaturated fats, like extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil. I also recommend tomatoes, avocados, yoghurts, Brazil nuts and walnuts," he added.

Individuals who are looking for work within the corporate hospitality sector may find more opportunities open to them if they seek employment in a hotel – as meetings and conferences generate around £19 billion, according to the UK Events Market Trends Survey 2011.

Miles Quest, a spokesman for the British Hospitality Association, said that the recession did affect corporate hospitality because businesses were trying to cut back on spending, but any upturn in demand will benefit the hotel sector "hugely".

Kempton Park Racecourse is one venue that has benefited already from increased interest in corporate hospitality, with bookings up 60 per cent between April 2011 and the same month this year, which could see more people being employed there in hospitality work.

Berkeley Scott provides specialist advice and support to help you with hospitality careers