Farm to (Banquet) Table

farmtotableThe green movement continues to make inroads in our industry, from vendors to hotels to restaurants. The good news is that planners are increasingly joining this mission. Yet, as much as we are being conscientious about incorporating “green” into our meetings, there are still planners who don’t consider adding eco-friendly banquet meals into the equation.

I was recently speaking to a planner who is gradually incorporating sustainable practices into her meetings. As we shared ideas, new trends, and the woes of ‘why some things didn’t work,’ our conversation evolved to my favorite part of the meeting, the food. My fellow planner confessed that outside of doing a small meeting at a private restaurant, she’d never considered asking her hotel contact for a farm-to-table experience at her meetings. As she made this honest statement, I had to ask her why. “I just figured the standard F&B menus, except when there’s a food allergy, was what I was going to get,” she replied.

How many of you are in a food stagnant state because you think too that you are confined by the standard F&B options?

The one thing that I think we all have learned in this business is that everything is negotiable, and this includes your banquet menus. I have found that chefs are extremely open, and welcome the opportunity to be more creative. With the green movement building momentum, I am finding many hotels are already working with local farmers to help expand the farm-to-table experience beyond the restaurant. As you plan your next meeting, make sure to include in your RFP to your hotels that you are looking for a farm-to-table menu in your banquets, this will allow for you to readily identify the hotels eager to partner with you.

Here are a few things that I have seen when it comes to farm freshness at the F&B level, as well as a few tips:

  • Find out where your food is coming from. Make sure that huge percentage of the menu is coming from local, sustainable farms.
  • Request more vegetarian and vegan menus. During one of our breaks, the chef set a table to look like a farm stand with fresh fruit and vegetables. There were also fresh baked granola bars that were gluten-free and packed with fresh fruits. They also offered a fresh smoothie bar. My attendees loved it.
  • Plan your menu around seasonal, local ingredients that are abundant.
  • Don’t stop at the food! I had one chef work with his bartender to offer a signature drink at our dinner. The drink included fresh mint and cherries from their onsite garden.
  • Think beyond one meal. One of my chefs used the surplus of vegetables from the previous night’s dinner to create quiches for breakfast the following morning.

What farm-to-banquet-table experiences have you had?

Happy Planning!

Danielle Childress

Danielle Childress

Danielle Childress (Dani) has planned everything from board meetings for 6 to product launches for 500 to the NFL Experience at the Super Bowl for 100,000.

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