If there is one thing that France will always be associated with, it is the utmost in culinary sophistication. So when you wish to tap into some of that famous refinement for your event catering – whether you have a wedding, party, product launch or other key event in mind – which ideas should you try out?
We have more than a few ideas here at Château Bouffémont in France. After all, our luxurious private venue has long hosted all manner of delectable cuisine – so here are some of our favourite French-inspired gastronomic suggestions to be getting on with.
- The cocktail dinner party
What the French call the ‘cocktail dinatoire’ can be a great informal culinary experience to incorporate into your special event. It typically consists of a Champagne reception and subsequent food serving, with canapés being followed by a starter and then a main course and dessert. Refrain from setting a table plan, and your guests will be able to mix and mingle as they wish.
- Make sure your canapés look as good as they taste
One of the distinguishing aspects of French culinary culture is a tendency to invest as much time and effort into the appearance and diversity of canapés as in the quality of the ingredients. Never underestimate the creativity of this remarkable country’s caterers in their quest for the highest standards of presentation!
- Prepare a classic quiche Lorraine
It’s easy to feel intimidated by the apparent complexity of French cuisine, but sometimes, the finest French food for your event can be astonishingly simple. House & Garden, for instance, has republished this excellent Mary Berry recipe for a quiche Lorraine that it shouldn’t take you too much effort to learn by heart.
- Cheese gougeres are great for almost anywhere
The versatility of French food should also not be underestimated – there are plenty of recipes out there for cuisine that is as well-suited to an impromptu picnic as it is to a more formal event. We love this guide to making cheese gougeres, for instance, from Emma Christensen at The Kitchn.
- The ‘mise en bouche’
This is the name given to the appetiser served at the beginning of a meal, and we would advise you not to omit it, given the transition that it can provide for your event attendees into the main course. It is also a good cost-saving alternative to a starter, with chilled soup being one especially popular example.
- Placing a local and seasonal emphasis
While French gastronomy as a whole is renowned, there is equally no doubt that different regions especially excel with regard to certain specialities. You may therefore wish to research the areas of France from which you can source the very finest ingredients – perhaps turning to the south-west for duck, for instance, or Provence for lamb. For fish or seafood, meanwhile, it naturally makes sense to investigate the best sources along the coast.
- Ready some salade Lyonnaise
As we mentioned above, not all French cooking is greatly complicated – and another impressive demonstration of this is the salade Lyonnaise, for which you can find instructions on the Saveur website. It’s a beloved, but straightforward dish comprising bacon, a poached egg and frisee, along with a shallot-lemon-Dijon vinaigrette dressing.
- Have the wedding cake as the dessert
Not only can French-inspired dishes be almost as simple as you like, but they can also be cost-effective. If you are looking to get married in France, serving the wedding cake as a dessert could be one very good way to save money.
- Serve a ‘bar a dessert’
Following on from the previous point, if you instead decide to have both the wedding cake and a separate dessert, what’s known as the ‘bar a dessert’, or dessert buffet, could be a great option. This entails guests being served bite-size selections of famous French puddings such as tarte tatin, chocolate fondant and macarons.
- Have a show-stopping croquembouche
The towering confection known as the croquembouche – which incorporates choux pastry balls piled into a cone and bound with caramel threads – is in many ways the quintessential French wedding cake. It remains sought-after among those coming to France to tie the knot, although another possibility is the stylish macaron tower that has gained great popularity among French brides in recent times.
There you have it – 10 ways in which you can inject some of that unmistakable French sensibility and style into the cuisine you serve at your next personal, charity or corporate event, whether or not you intend to hold it with us here at Château Bouffémont. Which ones have you experimented with, or have to share in the comments section below?