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Raising The Buffet Table to New Heights

By Marsha Fottler.

Ask any top caterer for a best tip for presenting your holiday buffet foods and that professional will tell you to vary the heights of food platters on the table. It not only adds visual interest to the display but maximizes space. Now is the time to gather up all your pedestal cake plates, tiered dishes, and other odds and ends from your house that can become elevated presentation pieces.

One effective way to keep warm dishes warm and to elevate them on the table is to heat two bricks in the oven. Put the bricks on the table (that has thick pads under the tablecloth), and then drape with a pretty napkin and place your platter on top. Another trick is to take a sturdy box, turn it over and drape it. Now you’ve got an elegant pedestal to told a tray of food.

If your buffet is an evening affair, put candles on the table and vary the height and shape of the holders. The unscented candles should be all one color (white or ivory is best). Use both tapers and pillar candles. Everything and everybody benefits from the soft glow of candlelight.

If yours is a lunch or brunch event, fresh flowers in simple vases or small pots of fresh herbs or ivy arranged at varying levels on the table will elevate the artistry of your food and accessories. Keep the flowers all one color, say pale yellow or white, or make the flowers work for you in supporting your color scheme and the tone of the event. In general, roses would be too formal for a brunch but just right at night. Think daisies, amaryllis,  paper-whites or mums for a brunch.No faux floral
arrangements, this is the time for fresh flowers or plants.

Here are a few more tips for setting up a successful buffet.
1. Setting the table in the middle of a room insures easy access.
2. Have one table for food, another for beverages and another for desserts. Space them
far enough apart for a comfortable traffic flow.
3. Set out all your entrees and desserts at the same time. Some people will eat dessert first or only desserts. That’s one of the joys of a bountiful buffet. You can eat what you crave.
4. Locate the plates, silverware and napkins at one end of the table.
5. Use generously-sized cloth napkins.
6. Unless you are offering a seat at a table for every guest, serve foods that do not need a knife. Guests don’t mind balancing a plate on a lap if they don’t have to cut food.
7. If you’re serving a tossed green salad, make it a chopped one. So much easier to eat.
8. Your dessert table will be extra special if you include a cheese platter complete with some dried figs and an assortment of nuts.
9. The day before the buffet event, set out all your risers and platters and arrange the serving pieces just the way they will be for the real event. Remember the small dishes you will need for condiments. Experiment with heights and with shapes and sizes of presentation platters and dishes, vases and candle holders.
10. Only serve foods you’ve kitchen-tested in advance. Also, remember that it’s not necessary to serve only homemade foods. Store and bakery bought are fine. Presentation will make the difference because we really do eat with our eyes.

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Flavors and More Magazine – December 2009

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