Five years ago I organized my husband’s Christmas party. It was at a museum, they are architects, I own an event design business (table4decorpartydesign.com) and I love food. Seemed like all the stars were lining up for a very chic party. We had recently learned to make cannoli and I wanted to try these lasagna roulades I was playing around with.
An Italian themed buffet it was!
I planned for days, poring over old cook books, menus from other events, the internet, looking for ways to put this together fabulously. (After all, if the party is by an event designer, it better be great- or at least something worth being judgemental about)
The menu had lasagna roulades, two flavors of fruit sorbet, anti pasti salad, italian bread with dipping oils, something with chicken that I don’t remember and my very clever black pasta fettucini with seafood served on oversized sea shells. I was a culinary and event planning wizard for sure.
To this day, all everyone remembers was that I was obviously trying to kill them with the squid ink pasta. People spent all night wrinkling their noses, talking in hushed whispers about the fishy pee pasta (apparently, if you are unfamiliar with squid, ink and urine must be the same). But the largest disappointment, no one was enjoying my meticulously planned evening.
The point is – when planning a menu for a large event – consider your guests first. As the hostess, your job is to make your guests comfortable. In this case, I clearly misread the situation – assuming everyone else would be into unique food like I was. They-quite vehemently-were not (the pasta incident still comes up every year at this time to make sure, god forbid, we don’t serve something wierd like that again.)
What your guests are comfortable with will differ everywhere. When I worked in Bozeman MT, there was a large California influence at the time so menus were trendy. We served rabbit, ostrich, kangaroo & quails egg appetizers on the lunch menu (ironically, the kangaroo, rabbit and quails eggs all come from a game farm here in South Dakota). I bet squid pasta would have gone over gang busters in Bozeman. Traditionally, crowsd here in the Dakota’s, are made up of steak and potato lovers. And as a hostess, making your guests comfortable should be your priority so stay within your guests boundaries.
Your menu will probably be the largest expense of your event – planning the entire menu around the color blue might be AH-mazing to you and AW-ful to your guests. If I had never seen blue mashed potatoes before (a specialty fingerling potato from Peru), and I went to scoop them off the buffet, I would pass and wonder what squid came and urinated on those potatoes.