Photographer credit: Picturesque Wedding Photography

We look forward to the day we no longer need to reference the C-word when we talk about events, and while we’re approaching near normality (knocks on wood), Covid-19 is still impacting the way corporate events are run.

That said, by now, as an industry, event caterers have plenty of tricks up their sleeves to keep things exciting and crucially, delicious, while being safety conscious.

Hickory’s Culinary Director, Brian Canale talks to us through the best corporate event catering trends for 2021.


You’d expect good hygiene from your caterer regardless of the circumstances, but heightened safety measures will continue at events even if restrictions change.

Culinary Director Brian Canale explains: “We’ve grown accustomed to seeing those serving our food and drink to wear masks. That’s unlikely to change in the near future; masks are a visual cue that catering and events staff are behaving responsibly.

“Expect heightened hygiene measures, careful use of space to reduce crowding and prominent hand sanitising stations to stick around long after the pandemic is over.”


Businesses are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate their green credentials.  At events, where important stakeholders are likely to be present, there’s an increasing need to emphasise sustainability.

“We’re seeing more enthusiasm about our locally-sourced produce from clients,” notes Brian. “They’re keen to know more about things like the carbon footprint of our ingredients, or how to minimise waste at their event.

“We’re really hot on sustainable practices. The kitchen staff works hard to reduce food waste, and you’ll notice that hardly any packaging from our events goes to landfill.”

Hickory was recognised with the Sustainable Business Award at the CIS Excellence Awards 2020, and this year, we are shortlisted in the sustainability category for the upcoming Cateys Awards.

Covered foods

Canapés and finger foods are a staple at corporate events. Post-lockdown, they’ll remain a firm
favourite, but with a few adjustments.

“Cleverly designed sectioned trays and miniature cloche-covered foods are popular this year,” says Brian. “Rather than taking away from the experience, these alternative presentations can actually look ultra-stylish and act as conversation-starters.”

Photo Credit: Patty Gonzalez via Successful Meetings

Individual grazing platters

Loaded grazing platters are a thing of beauty – just ask any foodie influencer on Instagram. Unfortunately, they’re not the most practical way to serve food right now. Instead, event caterers are opting for individual grazing platters.

Brian notes: “Grazing platters are so popular because you get to sample loads of great tasting food – and they look pretty spectacular, too.”

Individual grazing platters work well as they allow guests to taste a little bit of everything, rather than having to feign politeness as they ask the person next to them if they want the last slice of halloumi!

“Guests get plenty of food this way and don’t have to deal with the complications that can sometimes come with ‘serve-it-yourself’ options at large events,” says Brian.

Photo credit: Gourmet Dinner Lady

All-out celebrations

We were all so fed up of being stuck indoors that even the most introverted among us are embracing opportunities to get out and socialise.

The celebratory mood is reflected in our corporate event food and drink choices this year: we want spectacular experiences.

Brian explains: “While there’s no set trend for what ‘special’ constitutes, many of our corporate clients are asking for us to go big this year. We’re preparing creative cocktails, five-course menus and show-stopping desserts to surprise guests.

We’re also getting enquiries for our brand new ‘Hickory on Tour’ foodie truck, most recently seen at Fringe by the Sea. Street food is a great way to add a festival vibe to a corporate event, and get your guests talking. As I say, there’s no one answer – but we’re confident we can deliver it all!”

Final thoughts

Despite the challenges, corporate events are set to return with a bang this year. Expect stringent safety measures for guest comfort as well as extravagant menus for peak enjoyment in 2021 and beyond.



Next steps

Planning a corporate event? We’d be delighted to discuss food and drink ideas with you. Get in touch with the team!