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21 Catering Trends to Savor in 2022

At PartySlate, we are constantly wowed by the creative themes, over-the-top florals, and unique event installations we see uploaded daily to our site from all over the world. And catering is no exception; we get excited about all of the delectable-looking dishes and innovative displays.

We can’t wait to share with you what we’re seeing (and hearing about) when it comes to catering trends for 2022. Whether you’re getting married, celebrating a milestone birthday or anniversary, hosting an experiential corporate event, or a gala for good cause, you’re going to want to see our predictions of what’s hot in catering this year.

Hint: Expect to see dishes that evoke nostalgia, super-creative themed fare, fun handheld bites, continued safe service solutions — and many more fun catering trends in 2022

Don’t forget to check out PartySlate for all of your party-planning needs. Whether you’re looking to connect with venues and vendors or to simply find inspiration, PartySlate is here to help you celebrate in style. Let’s raise a glass (filled with a creative mocktail) to toast to a New Year of celebrating together.

Not Just Accommodation, But an Experience

More and more, party hosts are realizing that complex and delectable dishes can be made without a meat main course. Rather than having special options for vegans, vegetarians, and those who don’t drink alcohol, these options are being thoughtfully (and deliciously) integrated into menus for everyone.

1. An Increase in Flexitarian & Vegetarian-Focused Options

photo courtesy of & caterer: Paramount Events

The seasonal nature of produce means that eating by season is the freshest way to serve your guests. Paramount Events makes beautiful use of nature’s bounty with this squash and lentil dish that is guaranteed to delight fall guests.

Paramount Events

Paramount Events

Chicago, Illinois

photographer: Anna Zajac Photography | caterer: LM Catering

Lauren Hammond of the top catering team at LM Catering, shares, “Our sales team has seen a huge uptick in clients looking to focus on plant-based menus. They no longer want to only offer a single item but instead are interested in full vegetarian/vegan menus.” Their vegetarian risotto (at left) is a popular dish, even with carnivores.

LM Catering

LM Catering

Chicago, Illinois

photo courtesy of & caterer: Abigail Kirsch Catering

Forward-thinking Abigail Kirsch Catering gave sushi a vegan makeover with butternut squash, beet, and cucumber pieces atop sesame quinoa sushi rice for an elegant, colorful, and healthy bite.

Abigail Kirsch Catering

Abigail Kirsch Catering

New York, New York

Naked Fig Catering Launch Event at Above Twelve in New York, NY
photographer: Phillip Van Nostrand Photography | design: Birch Event Design | venue: Above Twelve | caterer: Naked Fig Catering

Naked Fig Catering, a recently-launched brand from Marcia Selden Catering & Events in partnership with Matthew Kenney Cuisine, is well-positioned to serve up this veggie-leaning trend (that we predict will last a long time). They specialize in luxurious plant-based cuisine, with fare that is delectable while also boosting immunity, impacting beauty, longevity, and more.

Naked Fig Catering

Naked Fig Catering

New York, New York

2. Curated Mocktails are Having a Moment

photographer: Anya Kernes Photography | event planner & designer: Twine Events | florist: Best Day Ever Floral Design | caterer: Whoa Nelly Catering

This springtime brunch featured bright and creative mocktails from Whoa Nelly Catering with fine ingredients like fresh lime juice and hibiscus syrup. All ages were able to enjoy the delicate creation.

Whoa Nelly Catering

Whoa Nelly Catering

Los Angeles, California

photo courtesy of & caterer: Paramount Events

Emma Nalbone of Paramount Events shares that she’s seeing a rise in curated non-alcoholic cocktails as well. Fresh, well-designed sips sans alcohol have become more than an accommodation, but a preference for many who would like a curated cocktail minus the hangover.

Paramount Events

Paramount Events

Chicago, Illinois

Elevated Comfort Fare at Celebrations

We all love a dish that reminds us of happy times even while we are actually experiencing one of those happy times. Savvy caterers are finding ways to offer us a taste of home, but better. Robin Selden of iconic New York caterer, Marcia Selden Catering & Events, shares, “We’ve enjoyed putting a spin on and elevating some really old time comfort foods. They are nostalgic, make people smile, evoke some serious memories and are really comforting and delicious.”

3. Nostalgic Dishes

photographer: Clane Gessel Photography | décor: Konstantinos Floral Design & Décor | venue: Above Twelve | caterer: Marcia Selden Catering & Events | cake: Ron Ben-Israel Cakes

Selden of Marcia Selden Catering & Events, says, “Our clients are looking for really fun interpretations of classics.” At this Love Shack-themed party, the team not only created crave-worthy fare from the 70s, but also wowed with creative and nostalgic packaging.

Marcia Selden Catering & Events

Marcia Selden Catering & Events

New York, New York

4. Breakfast for Dinner

photo courtesy of & caterer: Chef Billy G

Chef Billy G knows that food that evokes emotion makes an event more memorable. He paired fried chicken and waffles for a classic dish that’s also fun.

Chef Billy G

Chef Billy G

Miami, Florida

5. Mini Bites of Mom’s Classics

photo courtesy of & caterer: Diane Gordon Catering

Diane Gordon Catering created a new, yet classic, hors d’oeuvre with one-bite spaghetti and meatball for their “Better Together” event with Lenox China. The menu furthered the theme of pairings with prosciutto and figs, pear and pecorino, and of course, tomato and basil.

Diane Gordon Catering

Diane Gordon Catering

New York, New York

Timeless Summer Wedding
photographer: Vue Photography | event planner: Suzanne Reinhard Events | florals & cake: Legendary Events | venue: The Foundry At Puritan Mill | caterer: Added Touch Catering

Continuing the elevated comfort food trend, Added Touch Catering refashioned Beef Wellington into perfectly-portioned bites — not an easy feat with a complicated dish involving pâté, duxelles, and puff pastry.

Added Touch Catering

Added Touch Catering

Atlanta, Georgia

photographer: Cattura Weddings | venue: The Lytle House | caterer: Amazing Edibles Catering  

Amazing Edibles Catering brought the taste of home (but better) with mom-classic mini grilled cheese and tomato soup. And this is the first time we’ve seen one-bite pie ala mode, and we are wowed.

Amazing Edibles Catering

Amazing Edibles Catering

Chicago, Illinois

Safe Service Continues

In addition to reteaching us all how to wash our hands (don’t forget to sing “Happy Birthday” twice), the global pandemic has increased our vigilance toward safe service. Buffetts are on a break while caterers continue to conceive instant-classic solutions to our new situation. Kayla Castellano with top New York-based caterer CxRA says, “We have been continuing to receive requests for individually-packaged, elegant small bites from our clients who are hosting events during this time.”

photo courtesy of: CxRA

Castellano of CxRA says, “These new packaging options make items easy to see for the guests and they can enjoy in comfort, knowing that their individual platter has been served exclusively to them. With the additional focus on our environment, we are also able to source eco-friendly options for these individual platters.”

CxRA

CxRA

New York, New York

Trendy Outdoor Corporate Event at Huntington Bay Club in Huntington Beach, California
photographer: McCune Photography | venue: Huntington Bay Club | catering: 24 Carrots Catering and Events

This cool outdoor corporate event features several on-trend dishes and displays from 24 Carrots Catering and Events. We love the clever display and packaging of these mussels with crispy French bread.

24 Carrots Catering and Events

24 Carrots Catering and Events

Costa Mesa, California
photographers: 343 Media; Brandon “Ollie” Joseph | designer & planner: Wink Design and Events | florals: La Feterie | venue: The Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building | caterer: Creative Edge Parties

Creative Edge Parties never fails to delight, with both their delectable dishes and their unique presentation. We love this clever answer to the question of safe service.

Creative Edge Parties

Creative Edge Parties

New York, New York
photographer: Samuel Lippke Studios | design & planner: Percy Sales Events | floral design: Hogue and Co Floral | caterer: Good Gracious! Events

Good Gracious! Events always comes up with the perfect menu and the best way to present each dish, like these chic glass domes on luxe passed bites.

Good Gracious! Events

Good Gracious! Events

Los Angeles, California
Outdoor Wedding in Santa Barbara, California
photographer: Wind productions | planner: Jennifer Newmark | caterer: Cottura Catering & Events

A party isn’t a party without a sweet treat, and Cottura Catering & Events ensured that guests were also delighted by their sweet safety measures: chic glass domes and mini cake stands.

Cottura Catering & Events

Cottura Catering & Events

Los Angeles, California

The Most Popular Party Themes Have Matching Fare

For 2022, decades and locale party theming are on the rise. While the 20s are still fun for the 2020s, they’re definitely taking a backseat to 90s and 80s party themes. And when it comes to fun themes that transport guests through clever details, say aloha to Hawaii (in the way that means hello, not goodbye).

9. Party-Perfect Polynesian

photographer: Alexis El Massih | florals: Orly Khon Floral | venue: The Tannery Loft by Kadeema, Norwood, MA | caterer: Capers Catering

Capers Catering curated a beautifully tropical food and cocktail vision that channeled “Mad Men” and “Trader Vic’s” for this themed wedding. We are tikied-pink over those clever cocktail glasses.

Capers Catering

Capers Catering

Boston, Massachusetts

photo courtesy of & caterer: Good Gracious! Events | event planner: Bluebell Events | flowers and design: Shawna Yamamoto Event Design

This Hawaiian-themed dinner party wowed with fresh island dishes and drinks from the team at Good Gracious! Events. Every dish popped with color and flavor and gave guests a taste of paradise.

Good Gracious! Events

Good Gracious! Events

Los Angeles, California

10. Throwback-Themed Food Evokes a Decade

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Themed Birthday Party at a Private Residence in Miami, FL
photographer: Imagery by Jules Photography | event planner: KeAira Chantell Events | floral design: The Simon Design | catering: Sensory Delights Catering

This “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” themed birthday party conjured the 80s with cool decade detail. Neon hues and graphic patterns were a feast for the eyes and Sensory Delights Catering made them into a literal feast for nostalgic guests. 

Make sure to check out our article: Don’t Be Clueless — How to Host a 90s Theme Party

Sensory Delights Catering

Sensory Delights Catering

Pembroke Pines, Florida

photographer: Jeremy Lawson Photography | event planner: LOLA Event Productions | décor: HMR Designs | venue: 19 East | caterer: Food For Thought      

Food For Thought was the perfect creative caterer for this 80s theme birthday party that featured cheeky song/food combos and that guests enjoyed under a ceiling of slinkies and disco balls.

Make sure to check out our article: Break Out Your Neon & Spandex for these 80s Theme Party Ideas

Food For Thought

Food For Thought

Chicago, Illinois

Boards Go Handheld

Buffets and similar spreads have been slower to return to gatherings. Instead, we’re continuing to see creative solutions to handheld fare. Enter cones and cups as convenient and chic holders for crudité and charcuterie.

11. Crudité Cups

photographer: Jana Williams Photography | event planner: Details Details | event design and florals: Eucharis | caterer: Good Gracious! Events

With such a floral-filled and butterfly-alighted affair, the food has to be really special and Good Gracious! Events delivered (as always) with elegant, garden-inspired fare like these crudité cups.

Good Gracious! Events

Good Gracious! Events

Los Angeles, California

Vibrant and Glamorous Baby Shower at a Private Residence in Heath, Texas
photographer: Caitlin McNeil Photography | design & rentals: Social Llama Events | floral: Ali Pickens | catering: Vestals Catering      

Vestals Catering carried this party’s vibe and hue to the fresh fare at the glamorous all-pink baby shower, with handheld crudité in pretty pink dip.

Vestals Catering

Vestals Catering

Dallas, Texas

12. Charcuterie Cones

photographer: Anya Kernes Photography | event planner & designer: Twine Events | florist: Best Day Ever Floral Design | caterer: Whoa Nelly Catering

This gorgeous pale green and rose-colored Bat Mitzvah luncheon drew inspiration from its lush outdoor setting with handheld cones of fresh fruit, cheese, and flatbread from Whoa Nelly Catering.

Whoa Nelly Catering

Whoa Nelly Catering

Los Angeles, California

photo courtesy & caterer: Limelight Catering

Ever-creative Limelight Catering conjured not only delicious charcuterie cones, but also a chic hanging brass display, doing what good food should aways do: surprise and delight.

Limelight Catering

Limelight Catering

Chicago, Illinois

Customization & Personalization

Mary Kline of Wolfgang Puck Catering (in Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles) shared a recent catering customization from her team that perfectly captures how a talented caterer can bring additional meaning to an event: “We created custom ‘His & Hers’ drinks related to the couple’s first dance song.” In this case, the mash-up meant “Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton” paired with a “Boulevardier” drink for Him and “Sweet as Strawberry Wine” was Hers.

13. Interesting Ice

Dolce & Gabbana Themed Bright Yellow 45th Birthday at Elegant New York Penthouse
photographer: Clane Gessel Photography | planner: Sonal J. Shah Event Consultants | venue, band: Jordan Kahn Music Company | catering: Marcia Selden Catering & Events | ice sculpture: OKAMOTO STUDIO Custom Ice

Elaborate ice sculptures at events aren’t new, but we’re enjoying this new personalized approach to ice from OKAMOTO STUDIO Custom Ice. In this case, the initials in the rocks keeping cocktails cold reminds guests that they are there to celebrate a corporate anniversary for an event visionary.

OKAMOTO STUDIO Custom Ice

OKAMOTO STUDIO Custom Ice

New York, New York

Cocktails That Keep Guests Engaged

Everyone always gathers at the bar, so it only makes sense to have the making of cocktails serve as entertainment as well as service for a tasty bite. We’re seeing lots of memorable bar performance moments with interactive elements (think: aromatic bubbles that the guest gets to pop) and garnishes that are actually appetizers.

14. Cocktail Toppers Fill Two Needs at Once

photographer: Logan Beck | caterer: Truffleberry

Truffleberry tells us that they’re creating more “cocktail toppers” — bites that marry the flavors of the cocktails they sit atop perfectly with the sip. The team also sent over a photo of an apple cider slushie with a cider donut topper that has us dreaming of fall.

Truffleberry

Truffleberry

Chicago, Illinois

15. Scents Play with Senses

photo courtesy of & cocktail caterer: Euphoria Bar Services

Euphoria Bar Services conjures cocktails that appeal to multiple senses at once, like this custom recipe the call “Dumb Luck.” Guests get to open the cocktail’s glass case to release aromatic smoke that starts creating a flavor profile before they even take a first sip.

Euphoria Bar Services

Euphoria Bar Services

Los Angeles, California

16. Evolving Cocktails Change Over Time

photographer: Mo Davis Photography | planner: The Dinner Party Experience | design: Blue Gardenia Weddings & Events | floral design: Kim Starr Wise Floral Events | flowers: FiftyFlowers | mixologist: Cocktail + Creative

This Seven Deadly Sins-themed dinner was the perfect place for Cocktail + Creative to show off an evolving cocktail one that steeps like tea in a mix of herbs, fruit, etc., changing flavor as it goes. We predict that we will see more of these, as each sip is slightly different than the last, giving guests a unique experience.

Cocktail + Creative

Cocktail + Creative

New Orleans, Louisiana

17. Old Standbys with New In-Demand Ingredients

photo courtesy of & caterer: Wolfgang Puck Catering

Lauren Eck with renowned Wolfgang Puck Catering in Houston and Dallas, tells us, “For beverage, a current trend that we’re seeing is associated with the surge in interest for Topo Chico and the shortage that the country is experiencing. In the Texas market, ‘Ranch Water’ was a popular cocktail in 2021 and I anticipate the trend will continue into 2022. We have worked to do a seasonal play on the cocktail using seasonal fruit or take a classic drink like a Moscow Mule that is not a current trend and use those flavors to create a ‘Ranch Mule’ using ginger syrup, tequila and lime Topo Chico.” The Mezcal Rancholoma at left is another creative creation from the team.

Wolfgang Puck Catering - Houston

Wolfgang Puck Catering – Houston

Houston, Texas

Champagne Still Means Celebration

Bubbly has never gone out of style when it comes to celebrating but the way we serve Champagne has changed over time. Over the past few years, entire greenery walls filled with glasses of the gold stuff were popular (sometimes even with hands holding the stems of the glasses). But now we’re seeing a recalling of the classic Champagne tower as well as new versions of the Champagne wall. The important thing is, we’re still toasting to our good times together.

18. Champagne Towers are Chic (Again)

photos courtesy of: Marcia Selden Catering & Events

The talented team at Marcia Selden Catering & Events shared this trend with Robin Selden commenting, “We are also seeing over-the-top jaw-dropping, surprise and delight moments that are exciting and evoke a lot of happiness (in addition to a LOT of Instagram stories)! Here is one of our faves that we’ve been doing a lot: The Champagne Tower.”

Marcia Selden Catering & Events

Marcia Selden Catering & Events

New York, New York

19. 3-D Champagne Display Offers Service From All Sides

photo courtesy of: Sage Catering

Liz Shockley from the always-creative team at Sage Catering says of this room-centering display, “We’ve seen Champagne walls in different shapes and sizes, and they are all beautiful. This is one of the more interesting ways that we have seen the display.”

Sage Catering

Sage Catering

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Interactive Stations & Displays

Knight’s Catering & Events shares that “interactive stations” are on-trend for 2022. At PartySlate, we’re also seeing more creative displays and service.

20. Vertical Displays Make Clever Use of Space

photo courtesy of & caterer: Knight’s Catering & Events

The team at Knight’s Catering & Events is getting creative with their displays of tasty bites, making use of vertical space in a chic way.

Knight's Catering & Events

Knight’s Catering & Events

San Francisco, California

21. Catering Displays That Fit in On the Dance Floor

20th Anniversary Celebration Benefitting Sing for Hope at IAC in New York, NY
photographers: Roey Yohai Studios; Clane Gessel Photography | event planner: Apotheosis Events | production: David Beahm Experiences | floral & décor: Hilverda de Boer; Delaware Valley – DV Flora | caterer (for above photo): Pinch Food Design

A catering display doesn’t get more interactive than this tiered long tray-turned-limbo stick. We love the tray’s stacked vibe as well as the vibrant uniformity of the bites. This stunning corporate anniversary exhibited trends galore from multiple catering teams, including Pinch Food Design for the design pictured.

And the most important trend of all…

Kabrel Geller of the charcuterie magic-makers at This Messy Table LA, reminds us, “Once people are in the door, life is back to normal! Yes, events are smaller for now but guests lists are more curated and the celebration more intimate. The biggest trend I see for 2022 is gratitude for being together again.” 

Don’t forget, PartySlate is your one-stop-shop for finding your venue, event planner or agency, design team, photographer, entertainment, and oh so much more. In addition to our listings, you’ll also find lots of inspiration for your lifetime of memorable events.