A good buffet is hard to find, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are our top five tips for making a good one, along with menu ideas for a delicious buffet breakfast. When done right, the buffet spread lets everyone know you’re treating them to a relaxed, laid-back affair.
TIP #1: PLAN IT OUT
A buffet requires space considerations and set-up decision-making, so it’s a good idea to map it out ahead of time. Look for surfaces that are large, open and easy to access from at least one direction. Consoles, kitchen islands, countertops or even card tables all work great.
TIP #2: BE A TRAFFIC COP
Think about flow when building your buffet. You want guests to move through the line without any traffic jams. It generally works best to go left-to-right, starting with your stack of plates and ending with silverware and napkins. This way, guests will have a free hand to access the serving dishes. If you have the time, wrap napkins around forks and knives in advance. This makes for a quick grab at the end of the line.
TIP #3: TONGS!
Make sure it’s easy for guests to serve themselves with one hand so there’s no need to set a plate down mid-line. This means large serving spoons for bakes, grains, gratins and other dense dishes, and tongs for salads, bacon, breadsticks or anything else that would otherwise require two hands.
TIP #4: MAKE EXTRAS
If you’re hosting a big group, it’s a good idea to have back-up platters of the main dish, sides and desserts plated and ready to go so you can quickly switch them out without having to spend time replenishing the platter while guests are waiting for food.
TIP #5: MIND THE GAPS
There’s nothing worse than a sparse-looking buffet. (Ok, there are worse things, but a Spartan spread is not appealing.) Make your serving dishes look plentiful, cluster food together so there’s not too much open table space and fill in holes with small vases of flowers (without overpowering scents), votives or themed knickknacks if it suits your event. Get creative!