Planning an event involves various details, and there are so many things to consider.


Usually, the style of service is decided first, and then the chefs or catering team will conceptualize the food depending on the budget. When you hire skilled chefs or a skilled catering team, they should make this part easy for you. Not only should they be able to assist you with costing, but they should be efficient in cost control without letting the quality of food suffer. 

There are several styles of how food is served to the guests and what food best complements these styles: 


Reception Service


The Reception Service is ideal for casual events, where guests usually stand. If seated, they stand up and serve themselves from a buffet-style table. The perfect type of food should be light and eaten with a fork or fingers, preferably no knife needed. Ensure that food is not tricky or complicated to eat. 


Butler Service or Hors d’ Oeuvres Service


This casual service is typically used for upscale receptions where servers pass around food on trays. 

The guests use cocktail napkins to serve themselves from the trays. The food appropriate for this style of service is easy to eat finger foods that must be easy to handle and must hold up well. Avoid serving sauced items since they could drip and be potentially messy. Chefs should ensure that hot foods should be served on smaller trays that can be easily refilled so that the hors d’oeuvres will not have time to get cold. Mix up the appetizer choices to not serve your guests with the same ones for hours and hours.

This service can also be partnered with buffet service (more on this below). Set the less expensive items on the buffet table as they will be consumed in more significant quantities and serve the pricier ones as passed hors d’oeuvres. Ensure that you offer your guests a nice variety of options, including dairy-free, vegan/vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes, so there is something for everyone. 


Buffet Service


Food is typically presented in dishes or platters placed on banquet tables with buffets service. Guests walk along either side of the table and help themselves to the food. Buffet service can be scaled up or down to match the formality of an event. However, this type of service has a more informal feel than family style or plated meals because the guests serve themselves. Buffet tables need to be visually appealing and photogenic. To create visual impact, position the starchy items with the more colourful food items for a  visual wow!

Budget aside, there is no limit to the type of food that can be served in this type of service. You can offer a wide variety of food options, especially if you want a wide range of cuisines or you have picky eaters.


Cafeteria Service


Cafeteria Service is usually likened to the buffet service where guests walk alongside the buffet table. The difference is that guests do not help themselves with the food. Instead, Chefs or servers stand behind the other side of the buffet table and serve the food on the guests’ plates. It is an informal service that aims to control portion sizes. The more expensive dishes such as meats are often served to the guests, and the more inexpensive items, such as salads and soups, will be self-service. 


Action Stations


An action station is a food station that requires some action or input by the guest. In this regard, this service can be likened to a buffet, but the striking way to describe an action station is that it aims for a wow. This is why these stations are sometimes called “performance stations” or “exhibition cooking.” 

Chefs can also prepare and serve the food right by the buffet table through demonstration. For example, Ramen will be assembled and broth poured to finish the dish. Another example is a carving station, where guests can guide the chef on cutting their pieces of meat. Other appropriate options include mashed potato bars, oyster shucking station, wok stations, pasta, grilled meats, fajitas omelettes and crepes, sushi, spinning salad bowls and flaming desserts. And if you want to serve pizzas, call Anytime Chefs for the best pizza chefs in Perth and all over Western Australia. Our pizza chefs are mainly from Italy and can create authentic Italian pizzas on site. The result is a great food and dining experience. 


Plated Buffet Service


Typically, a selection of pre-plated foods, such as salad, entrees and sandwich plates, are set on a buffet table. They may also be placed on a rolling cart or rolling table and then moved into the function room at the designated time. 


Plated (American) Service


The Chefs pre-portion the food and arrange them on plates while in the kitchen. The servers then bring the food plates to seated guests.  This type of service will have less variety than a buffet, so serving widely appealing foods to accommodate guests with dietary restrictions is best. 

There are two ways to do plated meals, and for either, there are three courses (soup/salad, entrée, and dessert) that are generally served. 


  1. Entree options 

Typically, include up to three options, and each of the guests makes their choice before the event. 


  1. Duet Meal

A Duet Meal means that instead of having a menu with choices, guests get a plate of  beef/pork/chicken, with silent options for fish and vegetarian dishes served with sides on the same plate.


Family-style (English) Service


The Family Style or English Service is between the less formal buffet and the more formal plated meal. Servers bring the food to the seated guests in large serving dishes or bowls placed on the table. Guests help themselves to the dishes by passing the food to each other from a lazy Susan (if available). It offers variety as you are not limited to what to prepare, which can be easier in accommodating picky guests or guests with food allergies. You can typically provide up to two proteins and a side dish or multiple proteins with multiple side dishes. This can be the most expensive due to the service ratio, and guests will go beyond normal portions. 


French Service


French Service is a private and personalized style of service where the food is placed in platters and casseroles and served on the table of guests. It is an elaborate service typically used in fine dining restaurants where the guests then help themselves. 

The two variants of French Service:

  1. Cart French Service − The chef or server prepares the food and assembles it at the tableside, and the guests select food from the cart while sitting at their tables.
  2. Banquet French Service − The chef prepares the food in the kitchen. The servers serve food on each guest’s plate, and they keep the food platters in front of the guests for a refill.


Gueridon Service


In Gueridon Service, the chefs partially cook the food in the kitchen and bring it to the guests on the Gueridon Trolly to finish the cooking process. This activity is done beside the guest table to have an appetizing experience as they visualize and smell the food as it cooks. It also enhances the dining experience as it provides showmanship on the part of the chef or server. 


Silver Service


In a Silver Service, the chef prepares the food in the kitchen and presents them on silver platters and casseroles. The table is set with sterling silverware, and the platters are placed on the sideboard with burners or hot plates. When serving, the waiter picks the platter from the hot plate, presents it to the host for approval, and helps each guest using a service spoon and fork.


Russian Service


Like the Cart French service, the servers place the food on the platters and serve it from the left side.


Pre-set Service


A pre-set service is a banquet where food is set on the dining tables before guests are seated. Beverages, salads, desserts, bread rolls, butter, and appetizers are commonly served. The Chefs and servers must observe food safety since pre-set foods will be on the tables for a few minutes before guests consume them. Maintaining the safe food temperature of food such as main entrees at a pre-set service can be challenging. 


Hand Service


The chefs pre-plate the food in the kitchen, and the plates are under dome covers. Servers, wearing white gloves, will bring two servings from the kitchen and stand behind the seated guests assigned to them. The captain or maitre d’ hotel signals for when the servers can set the covered plates in front of all guests and the dome covers removed simultaneously. This is considered a sophisticated and dramatic style of serving that does not have many restrictions on the menu. 


In Summary:

The food to be served at an event should complement the chosen service style. This combination is one of the secrets of a successful event. The goals are to satiate the guests with delicious food, impress them with prompt and professional Service, and hopefully entertain them with exciting ways to dine. 

Hire professional chefs now to help you in your next event. Call us at Anytime Chefs!


That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!

Ciao for now,


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