Association Leadership - July/August 2016 - (Page 24)

THOuGHT LEADERSHIP ❯❯ meetInG TRENdS by Amy Drew thompson PALATE PLEASERS? TIP-TOP TAPAS! With small plates trending for 2016, tapas are an ideal way to please picky palates-and adventurous ones. Practiced planners can find favor with all their attendees-and stay foodie-forward-by curating crafty menus in which versatility keeps cost low while allowing your venue's F&B pros to let their creativity shine. "Tapas are meant to be shared, which makes them a great icebreaker at events," says restaurant critic and food writer Rona Gindin ( who has been following food-service trends for some 30 years. "Put a bunch of [people] at a table, place an assortment of tapas in the center and watch the communication begin!" Food is universal-and as such a natural springboard into new connections-says Gindin, a Zagat editor and Epicurious contributor. But as tastes are highly subjective, they're ideal for a mixed crowd whose tastes can't possibly be predicted with 100 percent accuracy. "At a typical seated meal, everyone gets the same dish," she points out. If it's chicken or beef, the vegetarians need a special order. If it's a vegetarian entrée, the carnivores complain. And fish? There's generally at least one at every table who can't stomach it." It's tapas' variety that makes them a winner. "Beef, chicken, fish, egg, dairy, veggie, potato... whatever," she rattles off. "Every attendee is bound to find something they'll at least enjoy enough to fill up on." The boring eaters are easy, she says, and can often be satisfied-pleased, in fact-with breaded and fried options a la your favorite pub's appetizer menu. Things like chicken tenders, slider-style burgers, mac and cheese. But savvy planners and food pros know that these, and other dishes like them, are easily modified to please adventurous eaters, as well. Then served two ways. "Add a twist!" she says. "Tenders paired with a creamy, creative aioli dip; sliders with pickled 24 July/August 2016/Association LEADERSHIP vegetables and spicy cheese, mac and cheese that can be served with or without lobster chunks." Adventurous eaters and tapas were made for each other. "For them, have some unusual or uncommon ingredients: lamb, tofu, Nashville-hot seasoning, hummus made from something other than chickpeas and laced with herbs, smoked peppers, artisan elk jerky...." Foodies, on the other hand, will care about the quality of both the prep and the ingredients. "You can actually feed this guest chicken tenders," says Gindin, "but make it the best free-range, antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken you can find-with house-made panko bread crumbs, house-made ketchup and extra-virgin olive oil from a little Northern California farm. The right choices allow planners to play it safe and go a little wild simultaneously. "Go with the tried-and-true and give them a dash of adventure with the preparation," she explains. "Have chicken-most people eat chicken-but be sure it has a vibrant spice, an intriguing sauce or creative presentation." Same goes for items such as beef, potatoes, string beans... "Just don't skewer it!" she laughs, advising planners to steer clear of anything too exotic as the main feature of any dish. "Adding a flavor from another continent would suffice. Most Americans are far more adventurous about seasoning than they are about proteins they haven't tried before." Bon appétit!

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Association Leadership - July/August 2016

60-Second Solutions
Quick Takes
Introducing the 2016-2017 TSAE Board Chairman
Meet TSAE’s Newest Board Members
6 Signs That It’s Time for an Organizational Check-Up
Project Management 101 – Where to Begin?!
Inaugural TSA Open a Big Hit!
Meetings Thought Leadership
Destination Planner: Lubbock
New Members
Index to Advertisers
Work Smarter

Association Leadership - July/August 2016