Four Upscale Buffet Ideas For Full-Service Catering

Hiring a full-service catering service for your private event doesn't mean you have to settle for a plated meal. Buffets can be elegant and pair perfectly with formal events with the right touches. Here are some elements to discuss with your private event caterer to create an upscale buffet for your party. 

Carving Stations

Carving stations provide a more sophisticated way to serve proteins at any buffet-style event. Chefs dressed in their formal jackets and chef hats create a professional look, and the freshly sliced cuts of meat offer a unique alternative to selecting pieces from a chaffing dish. Consider offering two or more protein options, such as roast beef, roast turkey, and glazed ham to appeal to your guests' palates and appetites. You can line up the carving stations next to each other for a centralized location or intersperse them throughout the buffet to break up rows of chaffing dishes. 

Plated Hors D' Oeuvres

One way to make hors d'oeuvres look more formal and upscale is to plate them each individually. Amuse bouche spoons can be used to serve everything from mini meatballs to shrimp, and small plates are perfect for an array of starter recipes. When lined up at the ends of the buffet table, these small plates create visual impact and elevate the look of your dining setup. Make sure the caterer has plenty of wait staff available to clear these small serving pieces throughout the night to keep the venue looking its very best. 

Stainless Steel Chaffing Dishes

The chaffing dishes your full-service caterer uses will set the tone for the buffet area, so be sure the company has elegant stainless steel designs available. Some come with detailed flourishes for an elegant look, while others have simple, clean lines to complement a more modern event venue. Be sure to ask about the chaffing dish designs to ensure your buffet setup meets your expectations. Additional serving pieces, such as large platters, should coordinate with the dishes to create a cohesive look. 


Some full-service caterers will provide decorations, such as centerpieces, to complete your catering package. For a formal buffet, centerpieces and decorations are essential to creating a stunning visual look. Rows of flowers or greenery placed behind chaffing dishes draw the eye up, adding a more upscale finishing touch to the spread of food. Your caterer can also create smaller versions of the centerpieces for the tables throughout your event venue for a cohesive look from the start of the meal to the end.