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October 2, 2011 | Sarasota, FL

How did October arrive so swiftly? The time for party planning is upon us � whether it be a holiday open house, cocktail party or other special event. To assist in that process, we called upon three of our area�s top caterers to share their expertise and give us a glance at the latest culinary trends.

Jaymie Klauber of Fete Catering, Jeremy Hammond Chambers of Innovative Dining and Larry Barrett of Simply Gourmet have their fingers on the pulse of what catering clients are expecting when they entertain friends and associates.

Jeremy sees the trend of entertaining friends at intimate cocktail parties continuing. �In this current environment, people tend to prefer a slightly more informal, cost-effective nature to the event,� he said. �Right now, customers demand value. They want to know they�re eating something special � a real creation.� And although Jaymie doesn�t specify the cocktail party, she does say that more informal chef-stations are a �phenomenon� that her clients continue to request. �We keep coming up with super fun and great tasting stations that our clients are loving.�

Ethnic food, whether served in connection with a theme, or as stand-alone dishes, was mentioned by all three caterers as a huge, continuing trend. �I�ve seen a shift toward ethnic cuisine over the last few years,� says Larry. �Not just a combination or fusion of different countries� cuisines, but home cooking from these countries that stands by itself.�

Spanish cuisine is very trendy now, said Larry. Interestingly, the recipe that Fete shares in this story is a paella, a traditional Spanish dish that is refreshed in both method and ingredients, using the elements of a risotto. Fete also features ethnic foods using stations. �From Thailand to India to Europe, South America and American regional � we are doing it all,� said Jaymie.

Innovative Dining also submitted an ethnic fried rice dish that Jeremy likes to serve, featuring Thai basil, Syrian pickled peppers, charred Vidalia onions and Szechwan pepper sauce, inspired by �opening up my cupboards one night and getting creative with what was on hand.�

Personalizing an event is one way to add extra oomph. Larry relates one of his most memorable catering presentations, created for a wedding. �For the bride, I prepared a traditional Korean barbecue (Bulgogi) � thinly sliced, marinated, grilled sirloin strips, served with assorted lettuces for wrapping, whole roasted garlic cloves, cilantro and scallions. I threw in Kim Chee and Korean good-luck Wedding Soup (long noodles/long life) and we had one happy bride. The Charleston groom was easy � shrimp and grits, andouille-crusted Gulf snapper and biscuits with tangelo butter � bingo! The bride and groom also wanted one item that would bridge the cultural gap. I prepared a Bahn Mi, an Asian-style sandwich on a French baguette � a take off on the great American Po Boy. The sandwich contained five-spice roasted pork loin, cilantro, cucumber, sliced, pickled purple onion and a nam pla (fish sauce) citrus vinaigrette.�

Both Jaymie and Larry stress entertainment as an element of the dining event. �A great dining experience is theater,� said Larry.

Jaymie relates a past birthday party: �We had a grilled cheese station with a couple of our servers wearing retro aprons and dresses, with an ironing board and irons. They grilled (ironed) the sandwiches to order with choices of cheeses, meat, shrimp, veggies and breads. Of course, served with a demitasse cup of tomato soup.�

Last on our list of trends for 2012 is soup. All three of our star caterers like the liquid form of nourishment, with Jeremy and Larry sharing recipes. Larry likes to use soup as a light dessert and Jeremy uses it as an aromatic ethnic canap� served in a demitasse cup. Both soups use the always popular coconut as a main ingredient.

Borrow these ideas:
Larry Barrett cites travel as one of his best idea generators. �When I go on vacation, I definitely travel to destinations that will blow me away with their cuisine. When you�re traveling, enjoy the cuisine the locals eat. That�s what will be the most authentic and delicious.�

Fresh, fresh, fresh is what Jaymie Klauber insists on. She says that if you are going to have a buffet, splurge with a chef. �Cooking a good portion of the meal right at the buffet � you can�t get fresher than that.�

Peruse cookbooks, suggests Jeremy Hammond Chambers. But, he adds, trying new ingredients and travel are things you must do to inspire your internal entertainment guru. �If you don�t travel, see and taste new things, you are, without a doubt, slowing your learning curve considerably.�

This article originally appeared in and is copyright to the Herald Tribune. To view this article in its original source please click here: - Sunday 10/02/2011.

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Simply Gourmet Caterers - Sarasota's Off-Premise Catering Experts.
Perfect food is our passion. We cater weddings, small parties, business luncheons, brunches, corporate retreats, birthdays, receptions and private affairs. Our award-winning catering is enjoyed at many locations including Selby Gardens, Phillippe Mansion, Ringling Museum, Powell Crosley Estate, Crosley Museum, Chelsea Center, College Hall and The Garden Club. We're extremely familiar with most venues from Sarasota, Long Boat Key, Siesta Key, Bradenton and Ellenton to Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Brandon. Delicious food and extreme attention to detail - that's what sets our catering apart.

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