Street food, mood food, and much more from Mandalay Bay's head of catering:

  1. Street Food: Create vendor stations serving Asian noodle bowls, dim sum in individual bamboo steamers, taquería-style tacos, or Philly cheese steaks from a hot sandwich cart.

  2. Multicultural Expansion: We are seeing a broader range of demographics, so we need to be familiar with a world of eating styles, such as Hindu vegetarian, which means food that is not just meat-free but prepared using Hindu methods.

  3. Ultra-Ethnic: Try regional cuisine such as French dishes from the Rhone area paired with Rhone wines. Or dig deeper into just Turkish cuisine.

  4. Mood Food: How attendees eat affects how their brains and bodies perform during the day. Go for balance, and start the day off strong with some high protein and, yes, moderate fats, for breakfast.

  5. Quality Over Quantity: Offer smaller portions of more nutritionally dense foods. Try crudités and hummus “martinis,” or fruit and granola parfaits.

  6. Customize. Explain your vision and goals to your catering manager. Each property has unique features and menu items that could fit your group. The catering manager will involve the chef as needed.

  7. Eat Seasonally: The bottom line is that produce tastes better in season. Depending on the size of the property, fruits and vegetable may be brought in daily from all parts of the world. By choosing items in season, you will provide your guests with a better quality product and may save your client some money.

  8. Show Your (Corporate) Colors: Plan break items to represent your corporate colors or logo.

  9. Go Organic: It's better for you — and the environment. Instead of processed candy, choose organic dark chocolate products for an antioxidant boost. Drinks can be organic, too. Try antioxidant-rich organic juices with infused organic vodkas.

  10. Label It: Gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free, dairy-free? The minimum standard at Mandalay Bay is to label nuts, seafood, dairy, and vegetarian food items.

  11. Get Inspired: Keep tabs on restaurant trends. What are they serving that seems fun? “Short ribs three ways”? We can do that!

  12. Chefs Are Celebrities: Partner with one to add buzz to a meal.

  13. Small Bites Are Big: Small plates are a great option for receptions, sometimes paired with a specific beverage — for example, a mini turkey Reuben with a shot glass of pumpkin bisque. Or how about a petite dessert with a dessert drink shooter, such as bruschetta with lemon-honey ricotta and strawberries with a lemon-drop shooter; or orange-butterscotch cheesecake lollipops with a Scotch pairing; or a molten chocolate brownie bite with a white Russian shooter.

  14. Move Away From Chardonnay. Try new varietals. You can even make “Find a new favorite” the theme of your reception. Your guests are savvier than ever, and prefer specific varietals rather than the standard house red and white. Or try wines from traditional grapes but unexpected regions — Texas, China, Greece, or even Croatia. Ask your team what they can source for you.