Five Foods You Should Avoid Serving At Events

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

This may seem like a lighthearted piece, but important non-the-less. When you’re planning what food you want to serve at your event, consider more than just what’s in season, or what your attendees might enjoy. You also need to take into account whether or not the food you have in mind is the most practical choice. Certain meals are better left to restaurants than conferences, while certain events may not work with a particular menu option.

The problem should be fairly clear: if you serve the wrong type of food for your event, it’s going to be messy! Clothes will be ruined. Volunteers will be overworked. Ultimately, people will be distracted – they’ll be paying more attention to their culinary concerns than your event.

With that in mind, if you’re considering any of the following food choices for your attendees, you should probably go back to the drawing board:

Ribs Or Wings

Topping our list is what might well be the messiest food known to man. There’s honestly no clean, dignified way to eat ribs or chicken wings (trust me, I’ve tried). If you’re going out for ribs, you’re expecting there to be plenty of moist towelettes with which to mop yourself down after the fact.

Although wings are a little cleaner, they aren’t much better. There’s simply too much sauce being slopped around.

At an event where your attendees are going to be meeting and greeting one another – and probably wearing some pretty swanky outfits – ribs and wings are a completely impractical choice. If you really want to serve some meat, consider steak or chicken.

Crumbly Pastries

Quick question – what is the difference between Danishes and cookies vs. pastry and coffee cake? Danishes and cookies are staples of events; compact, simple, sweet while coffee cake and pastry are impossible to eat without spilling crumbs, getting sticky, or unless you down them in one bite; that's not pretty.

I’m certain you see where I’m going with this – serve the simple stuff.

“Bad Breath” Foods

Thinking of serving some garlic pasta? How about some liver and onions? You should probably think again. While this sort of menu option is generally significantly cleaner than the previous two, it also had the troublesome tendency to make a diner’s breath smell like a dead cat. Unless you’re planning to offer complementary mints – and a lot of them – you might want to steer away from any food that has a reputation for making one’s breath smell bad, especially if you’re expecting your guests to do a lot of networking.

Anything That Isn’t “Finger Food” Without Tables And Chairs

If you aren’t planning on providing a banquet-style meal arrangement complete with tables, chairs, and cutlery, stay as far away from anything that requires a plate (or more than one hand) to eat. Serving such food without a proper place to eat it is a recipe for disaster. If you do, then I can more or less guarantee that at least one guest will spill, probably more.

Dangerous Or Overly Exotic Meals

Last, but certainly not least, if you’re toying with the idea of serving something that’s known for being incredibly exotic and/or dangerous – such as Fugu or Ackee – do yourself a favor: don’t. The liability issues associated with such cuisine represent a can of worms you definitely don’t want to open. Plus, it assumes your audience is adventurous. If you’re looking for regional or cultural cuisine, there are plenty of safer alternatives.