It wasn’t too long ago when finger food was frowned upon by customers who held the perception that it simply consisted of meat pies, sausage rolls, miniature frankfurts and chicken wings. But fast forward to today and the canapé concept is making a stylish and luxurious comeback, just in time for summer.
These days, more venues and catering businesses are adding the trending concept of canapés to their menus thanks to its versatile ability. Its no-mess and simple-to-serve capability has also proven to be a positive win for chefs and caterers, as well as generating less waste.
After being in the market for decades, the trusted finger food menu has received a shake up and transformed into a tasty foodie delight, with options that cater for all tastebuds. To help you prepare for the busy season, we uncovered the five biggest trends taking over traditional canapé menus this summer.
Typically, a croquette contains cheese and mash potato covered in breadcrumbs and is deep fried to perfection, generating a golden crust. It is renowned as a fast food option, but recently the once bland and average dish has been transformed into a gourmet delight, thanks to the incorporation of fresh, new ingredients. Broccoli croquettes served with a tangy blue cheese dipping sauce are beginning to pop up on menus across the country, as well as bacon and mac ‘n’ cheese croquettes with a side of tomato relish. The easy-to-eat Spanish influenced Jamon and manchego croquettes have also risen in popularity, thanks to its creamy, cheesy filling. Along with their golden, crunchy shell, croquettes can also be served with a vast range of sauces, such as sweet chilli, tomato and coriander relish and sumac mayonnaise. Meaning your customers can ensure each dip and bite takes them on a different flavoursome journey.
They’re considered the perfect option for lunch or daytime events, thanks to their ability of being easily customisable when it comes to fillings – that’s why wraps are making a comeback but now for all type of events. Wraps are faultless, not only for chefs who need a quick and easy-to-assemble offering, but for clients who are trying to stick to a tight budget. Despite what the budget may be, wraps can be built with premium ingredients such as aioli, premium egg mayonnaise or homemade relish. They can also be completed with smoked cheeses, a selection of cured meats and fresh garden produce. Head chef from The Catering Project, Emma Bradford explained to Goodman Fielder Food Service, wraps have remained popular amongst customers due to the perception that they are a healthier alternative. “When you look at a wrap, you look at the fillings verses the bread,” she explained. “Wraps are heavy on protein and salads, all bunched in there [in-between] a really thin piece of bread. Whereas with a sandwich you have these two big fluffy pieces of bread and then a little bit of filling.” To ensure they are keeping up with the trend, the catering business offer their customers a range of wrap and filling options. From a green wrap with falafel, hummus, tabouleh and baby spinach to a white wrap with egg toasted cumin, nigella seeds, mayonnaise, green shallots and spices – there is something for everyone.
Meatballs are usually associated with a big bowl of pasta but these days the ever-so-tasty menu item is making appearances on serving platters at many events. Miniature meatballs have grown in popularity in recent months, with catering businesses now including them on menus with the simple serving option of toothpicks. Usually made from either pork or beef, the flavours come to life with the use of spices (garam masala, paprika or cayenne pepper and cumin – for example) and mint. Though when it comes to all-time favourite, Vietnamese pork meatballs, they are packed with the flavours of ginger, fish sauce and mint; bringing the true taste of Asia to life.
Quiche and tarts are perfect for every event; whether it’s dinner parties, conferences, private functions or even weddings. With their small shape and minimal mess, they are also a great addition thanks to their flexibility with flavours and ingredients. From the use of basic ingredients like basil and cherry tomatoes or caramelised onions to using extravagant options such as salmon, dill and fennel – your options when it comes to quiches and tarts are endless. Over at The Catering Project they have taken the trend to the next level, providing customers with four varieties of quiches, seven savoury tarts and five sweet tart options. Chef Emma credited the goods versatility as a big selling point. She explained quiches and tarts are “some of our best-selling items” when it comes to catering events “because they are a hand-held item”. Chef Emma said: “Being a one-hand item really makes a difference…you can stand there with your drink and you don’t have to juggle things.”
When it comes to dessert options, having a collection of sweets available to customers is important as it provides consumers to try more than one option of what is available. These days, everything from small bite-sized cheesecakes, chocolate brownies, salted caramel tarts, meringue pies, lemon curd tarts and even cupcakes are making their way onto canapé menus (especially during the busy festive season). Chef Emma revealed she offers customers a range of pastry options, as well a fresh fruit as part of their dessert selection. From mini chocolate muffins and cinnamon Danishes, as well as pastries filled with Nutella crème, chocolate soil and milk chocolate or raspberry mascarpone with dark chocolate, the options of turning a dessert into a canapé option are endless.
Canapé menus that offer everything from sweet and savoury are growing in popularity. These days, finger food options don’t have to be boring and old fashioned. They can be reinvented, tasty and fun. Now is the time to spice up your offering with miniature meatballs, a range of different wraps and a never-ending assortment of tasty, bite-sized desserts. With canapé menus becoming socially accepted at a range of events, now is the time to steer clear of the traditional meat pies and sausage rolls and experiment with bigger, better and more appealing offerings.