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quantity of serving pieces required for French service with a large group.
Buffet. This is the most popular type of reception service. The menu can include many different entrees and side dishes, and guests can eat as much as they like. With buffets, portion sizes aren’t set in stone. So, your eight-year-old cousin won’t get a plate with the same amount of food as your Texas-sized uncle. Buffet service can often be faster than French-style service, especially if the caterer is conscientious
about the configuration of the tables. For example, a serpentine or “T” configuration can make it possible for lots of people to dish up simultaneously.
Food Stations. This type of reception service creates a more social atmosphere than the buffet or plated service. Guests mingle and eat, mingle and eat. Many caterers agree food stations are simply more fun than any of the other types of service. That’s partly because there are usually “action foods” at the stations, where
 CULINARY SERVICES
the cooking is done before your guests’ eyes. These action stations create conver- sation along with a great mix of aromas.
Cocktail. Turning the idea of food stations and buffets on their head, cocktail service brings the food to the mingling guests (as opposed to luring the minglers to the food). Waiters circulate through the crowd with trays of hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Generally, that means no meal. This type of reception service is good in situations where guests might be more tentative about walking up to food stations. It’s also ideal where space is limited.
Reception Odds and Ends
Some caterers will allow you to purchase your alcohol from an outside source (which can be cheaper) and then have it corked and served by their staff at your reception.
Ask about your leftovers. Some caterers will take your uneaten victuals to a local food bank or, if you prefer, will package them for you or your family to take home.
Don’t forget your vegetarian friends. Most caterers will prepare a specified number of vegetarian plates – even if it’s only one – at your request. If you haven’t already sent your invitations, you may want to provide a “vegetarian meal” option on your RSVP cards. §
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