A Buffet is a system of serving meals in which food is placed in a public area where the diners generally serve themselves. It is a popular method for feeding a large number of people with minimal staff.
A Banquet is a large meal or feast complete with main course and deserts. It usually serves a purpose such as a charitable gathering, a ceremony, or a celebration, and is often preceded or followed by speeches in honor of someone.
Many of us that choose to cater for guests at home serving a menu with a selection of hot and cold dishes and often include platters and sweet selections and many refer to as a buffet or as you can see from the explanations above you could rightly name it a banquet.
What ever you decide to name your meal, one thing is known that it will take a considerable amount of time to plan and prepare if you choose to DIY. Not only will you need to write a menu and shopping list you will need to think of all of the extras such as serving plates and eating plates and utensils.
If you are feeling energetic and creative, have plenty of time and can ask a friend or two for help if catering for a large number of guests there are many great recipe sites you can explore to create a suitable menu and with many $2 shops around you can purchase extra equipment and utensils needed.
Most importantly if you do decide to DIY cater, make a list of everything needed to cater for your party well in advance so you are not running around at the last minute picking up the forgotten items when you should be preparing your buffet/banquet meal.
You will also need to set a budget so you do not fall short when purchasing all that is needed to create a special occasion. List and price everything including cleaning materials as you will also need to clean up after your event. This is where a few extra helping hands can be useful so ask before the event so it does not come as a shock to any guests.
For those who are time poor may opt to have a caterer who can do all of the planning, cooking and clean up for you. Ask for all of their buffet/banquet menus as most can also customize a menu to suit your needs and budget.
When organising a wedding, birthday, work, or any occasion function, whether you are self catering or finding a caterer to cater for your function, food safety should be high on your list when organising
Deciding on a buffet menu such as a spit roast or BBQ can be good value for your money as guests can choose from many alternatives to suit their taste for one price per head. But catering for a function at home can be a food safety challenge, both for the food service caterer as well as you as a customer.
The caterer that serves a buffet follows specific guidelines of making sure all the food is kept within proper temperatures. Cold foods such as salads and fresh seafood should be kept cool and in small serving quantities to be changed regularly.
When changing the food, new bowls of the food are used rather than just adding fresh food to the same serving bowl that has some remaining food in it. If foods are hot, such as the spit roast lamb they are to be kept on a heating element or under a light that will keep them hot, if it is to remain out for a period of time. Serving utensils should be provided for each food.
In all that a caterer may do to keep foods safe for their customers, there are some responsibilities of the customer to help keep the food safe as well. How customers choose to serve themselves and handle themselves at the buffet line can help or hinder the safety of the food for themselves and other customers.
• Number one is to wash your hands. After arriving at the function, go into the bathroom and wash your hands.Your hands have probably come into contact with your face, hair, doorknobs and other places where they can pick up bacteria and germs that you don’t want to consume with your food. So wash well with warm water, soap and dry with a paper towel or invest in the antibacterial hand towels or liquid now available for your local supermarket.
• Use the serving utensil that is provided for each specific food item. Do not use one utensil to serve several food items. If one food item happens to be contaminated and others are not and you use the same spoon for serving, then that cross-contaminates them all.
• Place the serving utensil on a plate or spoon holder rather than in back in the food. If there is not a separate spoon holder available then put it back into the item, but be sure the handle does not touch the food. For example, setting the lettuce tongs on top of the salad is not a good idea. Remember hands transmit many kinds of bacteria and diseases.
• Don’t use your hands to serve food. Use serving tongs or utensils. If there are none available, ask a service person for one.
• Do not eat in the buffet line. Those eating while standing in the buffet line can contaminate food. Saliva can spray on the food and pass on bacteria to other consumers. So while you are in the buffet line do not eat from your plate or from the serving utensils. If you are concerned about what the flavour is or ingredients used, ask a server about it rather than tasting it.
• When going back for additional servings use a clean plate. Don’t take your eating utensils with you. Leave them at your table setting on a clean napkin or ask for clean eating utensils.
• If you have to sneeze or cough, try to step back away from the buffet line, or sneeze into your shoulder. If you can, remove yourself from the line and then return after you are done and have washed your hands again if necessary.
• If you have long sleeves that may dangle into the food, roll them up if possible. Coats, jackets and long sleeves can drag across the food.
• Be sure to take what you touch. If you touch a bread roll, put it on the plate, don’t change your mind and put it back.
• Help children to learn these rules as well. Always accompany a child to the buffet line to be sure they are using serving utensils, not eating while in the buffet line, or coughing on the food. Help children learn to not use their hands and fingers as serving and eating utensils in the buffet line.
These items may seem like common sense, but most of us have seen all of these problems at buffet and spit roast functions catered for at private venues. We expect our food to be served safely, but when it comes to buffet lines it needs to be teamwork – the caterer and customers to keep the food safe.