By Kate Carr, El Gaucho Vancouver and Witness Tree Lounge Event Director

Planning an event involves a multitude of factors, from decor and ambiance to that all-important wow factor. Amidst these considerations, it’s vital not to overlook the true star of the show: the menu. Here are some key insights to create an unforgettable event experience!

Understand Your Guests
It’s crucial to communicate the event’s goals to your planning team. Whether it’s celebrating a special guest’s retirement, showing team appreciation, commemorating a birthday, or marking a significant anniversary, the purpose of the event can shape the menu into something truly remarkable.

Additional considerations include:

  • The professions of your guests
  • Past attendance at similar events and their preferences and dislikes
  • Favorite dining spots and menu items at those places, which can also influence your choice of venue
  • Previous experiences and tastes at similar gatherings
  • Guests’ locations, as the cuisine from their regions can inform your menu choices

Offer a Range of Menu Options
When planning your event, aim to provide diverse choices that cater to different preferences. Consider dietary restrictions and personal tastes to ensure every guest enjoys the culinary offerings.
Rely on Trustworthy Professionals 
Collaborate with skilled experts, such as chefs, sommeliers, and mixologists, who are passionate about their crafts. Their expertise can lead to unique creations, whether it’s a customized cocktail, a wine selection that perfectly complements the meal, or a standout dish that leaves a lasting impression. Trusting a professional will elevate your event.

Embrace Seasonal and Fresh Ingredients
The time of year plays a significant role in menu selection. Opt for seasonal and local ingredients, when possible, to create a nostalgic connection to the season and region, offering your guests a memorable experience.

Align the Menu with the Event Schedule

  • The event’s timeline often guides menu decisions. Consider these scenarios:
  • Box lunches suit quick 30-minute breaks or when guests are on the move.
  • Plated meals require 2 to 3 hours, depending on the group’s size.
  • Streamline the timeline with these approaches:
  • Limited menu: Offering a smaller selection onsite helps streamline both culinary and service teams.
  • Set menu: Perfect for formal presentations, it adheres to a tight schedule.
  • Pre-selections: Ordering all or part of the meals beforehand speeds up service and offers subtle elegance.
  • Family Style: Ideal for a quick, enjoyable meal over 1.5 hours.
  • Buffets: Accommodate around 1 hour, maximizing time for other event activities.
  • Cocktail receptions: A great precursor to a full dinner or post-lunch presentation, starting 30 to 60 minutes before the meal.
  • Working breakfasts or lunches: Opt for menu items that don’t require specific temperature conditions, ensuring guests can enjoy them during breaks.

Crafting an extraordinary menu involves thoughtful consideration of your guests, their preferences, and the event’s schedule. By attending to these elements, you can create an unforgettable culinary experience that complements the overall ambiance of your special occasion.

El Gaucho Hospitality Event Directors

Aerlume – Caitlynd Davison,
AQUA by El Gaucho – Kristina Thorne,
El Gaucho Bellevue – Whitney Twede,
El Gaucho Portland – Greg Dills,
El Gaucho Seattle – Kristina Thorne,
El Gaucho Tacoma – Merica Oscan,
El Gaucho Vancouver – Kate Carr,
Witness Tree – Kate Carr,