The catering profession as we know in the twenty-first century has a long and intriguing history, the beginnings of which are found in the ancient civilizations. The Egyptian nobility filled their tombs with foodstuffs and cookware to supply them in the next world, simultaneously covering the walls with murals designed to record food preparation styles and table settings.
From the records and art of the Greeks and Romans come depictions of banqueting scenes filled with food presentations, table customs, decorative arts, and recipes detailing a range of foodstuffs startling in its variety.
Recently, food and beverage segment represent a huge and vital part of the hospitality and tourism industry. Along with lodging, banquets play important role in contributing revenue. Food and beverage sales such as banquets become an important source of revenue and contribute almost equally to room hotel revenues as room sales.
As the business grows rapidly, many details go into managing banquet. Service, therefore, can comprise anything from grand function and conference to the booking of a folk-dance group that will entertain guests. In this assignment, all information regarding banquet will be discussed further:
- What is Banquet?
- How many types of banquet are there? What are the terms/names for each type of the banquet?
- Define each term/name for each type of banquet.
- Explain in detail all types of banquet available.
- Advantages and disadvantages of the types of banquet available.
- Example/Sample of each types of banquet.
A function or banquet is an organized event in the broadest sense, at which all guests eat the same meal at the same time. A banquet is also defined as a food and beverage service at a specific time and place, to a given number of people, to an agreed menu and price. Common types of functions include private family functions; business or corporate functions; and community, group, and association functions.
Banqueting is a business of selling space to hold functions. Banquets require large halls with attached kitchens to provide quantity foods and a banquet brigade who are skilled in the art of handling large group of people. Banquets halls are found in medium to large hotels, where banquets business is part of an overall revenue strategy.
The term banquet service applies to the service of large groups – all of whom should be served at the same time. This involves serving in a similar way to table service with the waiting staff watching for the head waiter to give the go-ahead to proceed with the service or clearing of each course. Banquets service is usually offered in hotels, resorts, country clubs, casinos, and restaurants.
In hotels, banquets are typically offered in a separate (function) room rather than in an a la carte dining room but restaurants do not typically have separate banquet facilities (although some do). Instead, they may specify an area of an a la carte dining room or, perhaps, have a separate small room to use for groups ordering from an a la carte menu or attending a sponsored banquet event. Generally, the banquet services are of two types- sit-down and buffet with formal, semi-formal and informal styles of service.
In formal styles, all degrees of formalities and protocols are maintained and therefore elaborate arrangements are required to be made. This should be strictly followed during the function. The service requires more planning, detailed preparation, and elaborate tableware than any of the other styles. Ensuring every detail set out is essential to make the atmosphere as formal, spic and span and welcoming as possible. Starting from the décor to furniture selection, its arrangement in the space, uniforms of servers, order of meals served, presentation of both meals and staff in a well communicated yet silent atmosphere.
Semi-formal style is slightly different when a part of the function is formal whereas the rest can be informal in its own sense. The function is conducted on formal lines followed by a get together dinner or lunch which is informal. This style is used more often than formal. The preparation and service of this style are not as elaborate as the formal style and require less time, facilities and personnel. The individual place settings are almost similar to those used for the informal style. Few centre items are used other than salt and pepper shakers, sugar bowls, and creamers. The method of serving meal items are distinguishes semi-formal from informal styles.
As for informal style of service, there is no set plan of seating to be followed. Apart from this, no formality is expected from the guest side in terms of maintaining the protocols. The style is set in a more casual environment, in a room or hall with fixed counters where guests choose what they want and help themselves partly or wholly, or they may be served by a waiter on table arrangements. Every arrangement provides on aura informality, a little personal touch, and an assurance of freshly prepared quality food. The functions normally include entertainment.
Sit-down is a type of service where guests have their food served directly to them. Guests are served by waiters at in formal and semi-formal styles. Dishes are often pre-selected. Since guests are not required to get the food for themselves, sit-down banquets are often more elegant than buffets. French Service, Russian Service and Sit-Down Buffet are the example of sit-down which are commonly used in formal and semi-formal styles.
· French Service
Originated for European nobility, French Service is a personalised service and formal. Usually, the service is witnessed in case of Head of states hosting function in honour of visiting dignitaries.
In the French Service, the food is either served or prepared at a food wagon, tableside by Chef de Rang or Chief Waiter who demonstrate culinary skills in front of the guests. The food is brought from the kitchen to the dining room on heavy silver platters and placed on a cart called guéridon. The guéridon is covered with a cloth and is placed side-by-side with the table.
Réchaud, a small heater is used to keep the food warm. The food is completed by cooking, deboning, slicing, and garnishing as necessary and served to the guests on heated plates. Only those foods that can be cooked, assembled, or completed in a reasonably short time are prepared in front of the guests. Typical specialities that may be served in the French style are L Salade César (Caesar Salad), Le Toumedos au Poivre (pepper steak), and Les Crépes Suzettes (crépes in orange sauce).
French Service employs two servers working together to serve the meal and may include a captain to seat guests and a wine steward to serve wine. Chef de Rang or Chief Waiter prepares some of the food with flourish at the guests’ table, and assistant waiter or Commis de Rang picks up the food and carries the plates and serves the guests, clears the dishes, and stands ready to assist whenever necessary. All food is served and cleared from the right of the guests except for butter, bread, and salad, which should be placed to the left side of the guests.
Finger bowls-bowls of warm water with rose petals or lemon slices in them-are served with all finger foods at the end of the meal. The finger bowl is set on an underliner, a small plate with a doily, and placed, with a clean napkin, in front of the guests. Soiled dishes are cleaned only when all guests have completed their meals.
The advantages of French Service are the atmosphere is gracious and leisurely; guests are given a great deal of personalized attention they much enjoy, the food is extremely delicious and the service is extremely elegant.
The disadvantages are that fewer guests may be served, ample space is necessary for service, many highly professional servers are required, and service is time-consuming. This style is also expensive because it involves professional waiters to serve properly and slowly.
· Russian Service
Russian Service comes from the era of the Tsars of Russia in St. Petersburg who believed in pomp and ceremony. The service is a very formal and elegant type of service. It employs the use of heavy silver serviceware, and the table setting is identical to French setup. Only one server is needed and food is fully prepared and attractively arranged on silver platters in the kitchen. The service is not much use nowadays but it is ideal for grand functions and state banquets.
To serve, the server places a heated place before each guest from the right side, going around the table clock wise. Then the server brings the platters of food to the dining room from the kitchen and divided into individual portion and passed to the guests and each one serves himself at the table. Other than that, the food may be served in individual dishes and placed before the guests by the waiter.
Standing to the left of each guest and holding the platter of food in the left hand, the server shows each guest the food and then, using a large spoon and fork in the right hand, dishes up the desired portion on the guest’s plate. The server continues serving counter clockwise around the table and then returns the remaining food to the kitchen. As in French service, finger bowls and napkins are served with the meal, and soiled dishes are cleared when all guests have completed the meal.
The advantages of Russian Service are that only one server is needed and that this service is as elegant as French Service, yet faster and less expensive. A waiter can quickly serve many guests while providing the perception of personalized attention. Using this type of service, a skilled waiter, trained in the service procedures, can easily maneuver around tables and through the banquet hall. No extra space is needed for special equipment, such as the gueridon. Furthermore, the guest is given considerable personal attention.
The disadvantages of Russian Service are the large investment in silver serviceware and the number of platters needed, especially when every guest in a party orders a different selection. For this reason, Russian Service is particularly useful at banquets where every guest receives the same food selection.
Furthermore, this form of service does require skilled employees. Mastering the skill of handling the multiple, repetitive tasks involved in this serving style requires practice and time. Another disadvantage is that the last guest served at the table must be served from less well-displayed food remaining.
· Sit-Down Buffet
Sit-Down Buffet is commonly used in semi-formal, when the very nicest appointments are used, with the least service. In formal, tables are laid out with crockery, cutlery and linen. The guests may serve themselves at the buffet table and return to eat at the guest table laid out. A few courses like the appetizer and soup may be served at the table by the waiter. Banquet service personnel serve the guests at the table either with pre-plated food or brought in ornate salvers and served to the guest.
The Sit-Down Buffet table is set as it would be for dinner, with the exceptions of the plates and the main course, which are placed on the sideboard for guests to serve themselves. Table decorations are as elaborate as any at the most formal table. The napkins, silver, glasses, salt and pepper, butter plates are all in place on the table. Place mats are usually used, and a centrepiece. If small tables-card tables-are used instead of the larger table, the centrepiece is small, to save space.
The dessert silver may be in place above the space for the plate, and butter plates are a matter of convenience. When dessert is served from the kitchen, the desert silver is on the dessert plate. The hostess will serve soup as the first course, and this is in place on the place plate when guests sit down. The hostess will remove used plates before guests serve themselves at the sideboard; later she will remove other plates. Coffee may be served at the table.
At very large buffets, the coffee service, water, wine, and glasses are placed in convenient areas, with guests helping themselves. The service is often used at conference, meeting, office gala dinner and etc.
The advantage of Sit-Down Buffet is when the service is fast. Guests do not have to wait for long time to be served.
The disadvantage of Sit-Down Buffets is when the water goblets which are set at the guest table need to be replenished regularly. Another disadvantage of this service is when the food must be replenished in time. The service staff has to be alert to empty dishes.
Buffet is another type of service where guests serve themselves from a food display table. Buffets are pre-set and informal than sit-down. The service usually combines both methods-the guests select relishes, salads, and vegetables themselves, and the meat is carved and served to the guests by Buffet Chefs whom are standing behind the buffet tables.
Silverware and napkins may be conveniently located on the buffet table for the guests to pick up with their meals, or a complete cover (usually American), including rolls, butter, and condiments, may be present at the dining table. The guests then stand or sit at tables pre-set with cutlery, glassware and linen.
An alternative to this style is just chairs arranged along the walls of the hall. In stand-up buffets guests are forced to stand and eat. The main feature in buffet service is the buffet table which is decorated with fruit displays, ice sculpture or butter sculpture base on price and the occasion.
The traffic flow at a single buffet table layout as shown at Fig. 10 will be from left to right. This layout is used when there are guests below 50. Fig 11 gives a dispersed layout when guests are over 50-75 persons. The numbers correspond with the diagrams as follows:
- Half Plates, dinner plates and cutlery
- Appetisers and salads display
- Soup Kettle
- Chaffing dishes with hot meat and vegetable preparations
- Rice and breads display
- Dessert display
Buffet service is preferable at weddings, large social occasions, and dinner dances etc. A common fault that must be avoided in large functions is to have only one buffet table. It is advised to have multi-buffet tables of identical nature spread around the room for every 75 guests. This disperses people and prevents long queues at the buffet table. Another variation is to have the appetisers, salads and soup at one buffet table, at the chaffing dishes (food warmers heated by dry fuel) with hot foods at another and finally the desserts at a table separated from the rest.
There are many advantages of using buffet service. Buffets are ideal to cater a large groups. It requires less staff to render the service needed and at the meantime, the servers can attend to many guests at one time. Food presentation can be in a very attractive manner and more food items can be offered. Buffet service may be economical too because guests choose the items that they want to eat, resulting in less waste.
However, there are also disadvantages of buffet service. Care should be taken to keep food selections fresh and complete. Maintaining cleanliness-since guests help themselves, they are bound to be spills. These spills have to be cleaned and managed to make the buffet look clean. There is also the issue of removing soiled dishes as they present the ugly sight.
Moreover, food items in the service line may take longer to serve than the rest, resulting guests queue hold-ups when the service is in progress. Food on the buffet table have to be replenished when empty and clear dirty plates, glassware and cutlery. Even though the staff can attend to many guests but they receive less personal attention than with table service.
Several arrangement for rooms set up can be chosen in a banquet room, where the tables and chairs are arranged according to customers’ desires. However, the arrangement of furniture in a restaurant usually does not change. The most common arrangements are E-Shaped setup, U-Shape setup, and Banquet Round style.
The E-Shaped Table or Classic Banquet style table placement consists of long rows of rectangle banquet tables with seats on both sides. This setup will allow for the most seats in a room. It is ideal when there is a large delegations of guests who must be seated at the head table.
The U-Shaped setup works well for presentations where there will be interaction between the guests, and the speaker. The speaker can walk up and down the hollow box inside the “U” interacting with the guests. This style setup can be used for meetings and dinners.
Round tables offer a more formal look to banquet space. In order to maximize the amount of round banquet tables that can fit in a room, the placement should be in diagonal rather than lateral rows.
Banquet is defined as a food and beverage service at a specific time and place, to a given number of people, to an agreed menu and price. Common types of functions include private family functions; business or corporate functions; and community, group, and association functions. There are two types of banquets; sit-down and buffet.
Sit-down is more elegant when guests are served by waiters. Sit-down comprises French Service, Russian Service and Sit-down Buffet. The French Service and Russian Service are often used in formal styles to honour dignitaries, at grand functions and state banquet. However, the Sit-Down Buffet is always perfect for both formal and semi-formal styles at conference, meeting or office gala dinner.
In Buffet, guests serve themselves from various dishes displayed on a buffet table. Buffets are pre-set and informal than Sit-Down. Buffet service is preferable at weddings, large social occasions, and dinner dances etc. Buffets are able to cater a large groups, requires less staff, able to attend to many guests, very attractive food presentation and economical.
In conclusion, banquet service involves serving a meal to a group of people who are celebrating, gathering for a special occasion, or honouring special guests. The menu, number of guests, and time of service are predetermined, and the banquet is well organized in advance.
Meyer, S., Schmid, E. & Spuhler, C. (2002). Professional Table Service. Maryland: Wiley.
Andrews, S. (2006). Food & Beverage Service A Training Manual. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Limited.
Narvaez-Soriano, N. (2004). A Guide to Meal Management and Table Services Revised Edition. Manilla: Rex Book Store, Inc.
Swarts, O.D. (1988). Service Etiquette. Maryand: Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data.
Sethi, M. (1999). Institutional Food Management. New Delhi: New Age International (P) Limited Publishers.
Dahmer, S.J. & Kahl, K.W. (2009). Restaurant Service Basics. Canada: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Mukherjee, A. (2006). Food and Beverage Management. New Delhi: Isha Books.
Thornes, N. (2003). Catering and Hospitality. Serving Food and Drink: Table & Function. United Kingdom: Nelson Thornes Ltd.
Yash. (2010). F&B Notes. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/27779123/F-B-Notes
Amores, B. (2013). Banquet Training Manual. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/165993174/Banquet-Trainning-Manual
Types of Banquet. Retrieved from http://www.unileverfoodsolutions.co.id/en/our-services/chefmanship-academy/12-banqueting/2-types-of-banquet
Photo credit to Google Images
Photo credit to Google Images