Safe F&B doesn’t have to mean it’s not creative F&B.
Safe F&B is the new normal. Self-serve buffets, as we know them, are a thing of the past. Family-style may never return. Gone for now are passed hors d’oeuvres at cocktail receptions.
Boxed lunches and even dinners are now common, as are plate and glass covers and individual bottled beverages. Coffee breaks look much different than we remember them, with sanitizing wipes places strategically next to the dispenser, or some meeting organizers choosing to turn the coffee break into a barista bar instead.
“We have seen our last traditional coffee break,” said Dana Pellicano, Marriott’s vice president of food and beverage. “Innovative, smaller, bespoke solutions are coming into that space.”
And not all properties have given up entirely on buffets, such as Rosen Hotels & Resorts. Buffets are single-sided only with a distance barrier created to deter guests’ direct contact with food items. Banquet staff wear masks and gloves, and rolled silverware or plasticware is used, according to Leslie Menichini, VP, sales & marketing, Rosen Hotels & Resorts for Rosen Shingle Creek, and Gary Bitz, the hotel’s director of catering.
“Food safety has always been important, but in the past, it was just kept behind the kitchen door,” said Tracy Stuckrath, CFPM, CSEP, CMM, owner, thrive! meetings & events, “We can look at the need for additional food safety as a burden, an additional labor cost, or as the opportunity to upgrade the service.”
To avoid the hazmat ambiance, have servers skip the antiseptic-looking rubber gloves and replace them with long black or whit gloves. “Your meal function becomes a white-glove experience,” Stuckrath said.
Given today’s new normal, it is more important than ever to coordinate with the catering manager and chef at your meeting venue. As they get more meetings under their belts, they will be able to share all kinds of creative solutions for safe F&B.
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