How to host and cater outdoor events

With summer on the horizon event planners are likely casting their minds towards the much anticipated summer party. The season is notorious for being short lived in the UK, so delegates, and caterers alike, want to make the most of the long sunny days.

Never ones to miss out on the sunshine, us Brits love an outdoor event. They offer a range of opportunities for entertaining and al fresco dining. For many of us, dinning outdoors conjures up images of beach holidays and so for event organisers, recreating the feeling of relaxation is crucial.

To create that relaxing holiday feel, it’s useful to set a theme under which the event will operate. Defining a clear motif will increase guest engagement and complete the communal sense of being transported to a sunny paradise.

With this in mind, this summer we’re bringing the sandy shores and vibrancy of Rio de Janeiro to the capital and embracing aspects of Brazilian culture and cuisine.

To achieve this authenticity and adding an extra layer to the event, my brigade of chefs will be serving a Brazilian churrascaria BBQ, complete with chimichurri, collard greens, salpicão (slaw) and accompanying caipirinha cocktails.

Barbecuing is great for outdoor catering, it is such a social experience, not only does it provide the perfect amount of theatre, the fairly short cooking times for dishes allows more opportunity for guests to network. When it comes to barbecue cooking, we’ll be grilling flank steaks as well as chicken hearts (a Brazilian staple) to really enliven the event.

Brazilian barbecues by nature are meat heavy, however, serving vegetable salads and fish alternatives will universally appeal; smoking these on hot coals adds serious flavour and intense colour to your buffet.

Of course, outdoor catering brings its own difficulties and challenges, developing contingency plans to account for bad weather, lighting and audio requirements is vital. Make sure you allow for the luxuries we associate with indoor events – warmth, furniture, Wi-Fi access – as standard when preparing your outdoor event to ensure a more pleasant environment. This is also important from a catering perspective. Having a barbecue set up is all well and good, but make sure you think about cutlery, refrigeration and access to drinking water.

It may be summer, but prepare for rain. Ensure your guests have somewhere to take shelter, whether it’s an indoor venue or, even better, erect a transparent marquee or pavilion to protect guests without diminishing the sense of being outside.

The key to creating memorable outdoor events is to ensure the best of both worlds; the ease and convenience of facilities and furniture that comes with indoor entertaining, joined with the unique feeling, flavours and smells of being in the great outdoors.

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Written by Tom Gore, Executive Chef at The Brewery

Heavily influenced by his global culinary experiences, from working in kitchens all over the world, Tom’s ethos is to keep the basis of his dishes simple and use classic flavours, to create recipes with unusual combinations to a fine-dining standard.

Bringing his vitality and passion to the kitchen, Tom has pushed the boundaries of clients’ expectations for conferences and events, and working with his brigade of chefs, cater for all in-house events from private parties to award ceremonies and conferences for up to 1,000.

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