Different Styles of Catering Service

6 major categories to consider for your next catering service

Different Styles of Catering Service

6 major categories to consider for your next catering service


contributing author

6 major categories

The essence of catering service is rather broad and profound than most people thought, and there are different styles and formats according to the theme and scale of the event. For example, due to the pandemic in the past two years, many people had to change their game plan for the F&B part of their event. Instead of dining in, offering takeaway food boxes for guests became a pretty popular alternative.  As the pandemic passed and back to the new normal, various banquets and business events are being held everywhere leading to assorted styles of catering services becoming active again in the market.


Buffet Service

Hongkongers should be familiar with the name of this style, indeed, this is one of the most common formats of catering service, with food filled on the self-serve table, guests can pick and choose whatever food that appeals to their eyes and appetite.  More importantly, the size of the buffet can be varied according to the size of the event.  Food presentation and table decors play an important role to increase the visual effect and the attractiveness of the food for this self-service format.  With less restriction on food choices that are being provided, buffet style definitely offers your guests the flexibility to pick the food that fit their own preference.


Reception Service

The reception service usually starts during/before the event, such as a launch event or a presentation.  Guests often stand and mingle around the venue while foods are being presented on the buffet table and drinks are served by servers.  The food items usually tend to be on the light side and easy to consume, Canapé is a common pick since it can be easily picked up with a fork or by hand, such foods are usually prepared with no extra sauce to minimize the chance of making any mess while eating.


Butler Service

During cocktail receptions or wedding receptions, freshly prepared hors d’oeuvres are served by servers on a tray and passed around among guests, guests will then pick the food from the tray on their own if they want it.  In this style, guests can enjoy the right out-of-the-kitchen hors d’oeuvres in their best quality.  Similar to the reception style and for the same reason, foods are seldom served with any sauce also.  In order to maintain the freshness and temperature of the hors d’oeuvres, they are usually served on smaller trays for the chef to replenish.

Butler service is sometimes used in conjunction with buffet service, where the cold or lower-cost items are placed on the buffet table and the more high-priced hors d’oeuvres are served using the pass-around format.


Action Stations

Action stations appear in buffets, weddings, or some banquets, basically it is a food station where the chef cooks/prepares the food on the spot, including meat carving or dessert plating.   Action station not only offers a fun and interactive experience for guests but more importantly, the amount of food being offered can also be effectively controlled.


Plated (American) Service

Commonly used format for High Table Dinner or Sit Down Dinner and the guests will be seated as if they were at a restaurant but in a designated location.  Foods are plated at the venue and served immediately by the servers.  A three to five-course meal includes soup/salad, a main course, and dessert is usually being offered in this style.


Family-style (English) Service

Family-style Service is quite similar to a Chinese meal that is being served at restaurants, where foods are served family-sized on a serving silver platter and presented to the guest by the servers, the dishes will then be either divided proportionally and served to each guest or placed on the lazy susan and self-served by the guests themselves, allowing the guests to choose the dishes they are interested to have.

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