Event meals are more than just food ingredients thrown together. The art of entertaining means hitting all the senses with just the right catered entrees.
The best foods are those that we experience with all the senses: sight, smell, feel and taste. There is an art to making the sensory meal, to create a dish or a meal that looks great, is aromatic, and provides a great mouthfeel (texture) and taste.
The trick for every chef is to hit all those points and do so with service efficiency. What good is it to see or smell the aroma of something if you have to wait a long time to touch and taste it?
In his book “The Philosophy of Food” (University of California Press, 2012), author David M. Kaplan wrote, “Food is artful. We describe it in terms of its visual presentation and sensual composition. We attribute aesthetic properties such as elegant, hearty, or simple. Food on this model is primarily the subject of aesthetic judgment about its taste and appearance and only secondarily about nature and nutrition.”
It provides diners with enticing food served in a relative fast fashion. But the fact that tacos are composed of their separate ingredients in view of the diner make it an exceptional experience on many levels.
Consider first the visual presentation: Most taco caterers use the food station or food cart method of service, with several such stations positioned around an event space (depending on the size of the party). This not only serves the convenience of diners, allowing them to access their meals in a casual, move-around-the-party way, but they also get to see the food prepared right in front of them. And it’s participatory: the diners individually select the ingredients for their taco. The composition is of their choosing, as sensual (Spicy? Crunchy? Simple?) as they want their taco to be.
Depending on the menu selected, it might include pulled pork, shrimp, chicken or tilapia, and be accompanied by vegetables and rice. Just as important for today’s nutrition-minded diner, these fresh and wholesome ingredients are clearly on the healthy side. The lighter diner can scale down his or her dinner by ordering one or two tacos, while the triathletes and power lifters have the option of two, three or four trips back to the service station (but who’s counting?).