Serving Hors Doeuvres

This chapter focuses on foods that are not served as part of a normal lunch or dinner menu.These foods are usually small items that may be served at a formal reception preceding a meal, as part of a separate event not connected with a meal, or simply as accompaniments to beverages at an informal gathering.

The two most common ways of serving hors d'oeuvres are butler-style and buffet-style.

In butler-style service, the hors d'oeuvre selections are offered to guests by service staff carrying small trays as they pass among the assembled group. Several points should be kept in mind when planning this style of service:

• Each item should be small enough to be eaten in one or two bites.

• Each item should be easily handled by the guest. Canapés or other foods that can be picked up without soiling the fingers are ideal. For foods with a moist or oily surface, offer picks that guests can use to handle the food without touching it. Cocktail napkins should always be offered. Foods requiring a plate are better served on a cocktail buffet.

• Strive for simple, attractive arrangements on the tray.The foods should look appetizing even when only a few items are left.Trays that no longer look appealing should be brought back to the kitchen or pantry area to be refreshed and refilled.

• Ideally, each tray should hold only one food selection. For simple items, two or three selections can be presented on a single tray, but avoid making the tray too complex or overloaded.

• Avoid presenting hot and cold items on the same tray. Cold items are easiest to serve. Hot items should be brought back to the kitchen or pantry area as soon as they are no longer warm.

• For items to be offered with dips, a small bowl of the dip can be presented on the same tray as the individual hors d'oeuvres.

In buffet-style service, hors d'oeuvres are arranged attractively on one or more tables, and guests help themselves. Small plates can be offered on buffet tables, so it is not necessary to confine the food selections to finger foods. Cold hors d'oeuvres are usually presented arranged on trays, which can be easily replaced when they become depleted. Canapés and similar items are best arranged in neat rows, circles, or other arrangements. Raw vegetables may be piled in neat stacks, with bowls of dips placed among them. Hot items should be offered in chafing dishes, which keep them hot. Buffet presentation is discussed in more detail in Chapter 28. Finally, hors d'oeuvres are also served informally as accompaniments to beverages. This category is often known as bar food and may be served one item at a time, as ordered by the customer, or presented on a buffet.The classic bar food is the popular Spanish-style tapas, discussed on page 764.

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