Catering outdoors in the summer heat and sun is much different than catering a party in a restaurant or indoor venue. There are many additional aspects to consider, primarily being guest safety and proper food preservation. Continue reading to learn 5 vital tips for serving food to guests outside in the summer temperatures.
❶ Maintain Proper Food Temperatures
Food that is to be served warm should stay warm, and food that is to be served cold should be kept cold at all times. This is to prevent your food from spoiling. Spoiled food contain bacteria that can make people very sick. You will need to ensure your food is coupled with the proper equipment and materials to keep it at safe temperatures. This may include coolers, cabinets, carts, ice, ice packs, heat lamps, burners, umbrellas, covers, and more. The general rule of thumb is to keep hot foods above 135 degrees Fahrenheit and cold foods below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
❷ Do Not Serve Unsafe Foods
There are certain foods that are staples for summer cookouts and picnics, but in the heat, they are not always the safest choice. Foods like deviled eggs, potato salad, and shellfish are not likely to stay fresh throughout the duration of your event. They are more challenging to keep safe because they spoil so quickly in the sun.
❸ Have Plenty of Ice On Hand
On a hot day, ice is key; especially when serving food outdoors. Whatever amount of ice you planned on having at your event, go ahead and double it to be safe. Ice melts quicker than you might think when it is hot outside, and you will need plenty of it for both food preservation and beverages. Keep coolers around filled with ice for backups, and use these reserves to refresh trays, drinks, bars, and more.
❹ Protect Against Insects
Outdoor events that serve food will most certainly attract bugs and other pests. You will need to prepare a plan to protect both your food and your guests from insects. This is especially important if your outdoor event is located right next to a body of water or forest. Use equipment like food covers, netting, candles, and more to thwart insect interference. Also be sure to have extra bug spray and anti-histamines on hand in the case that a guest is affected.
❺ Keep Your Guests Cool
In addition to keeping your food at safe temperatures, you want to also be sure your guests are cool and comfortable during your outdoor event. Plan to have areas of shade using umbrellas, pergolas, or gazebos. You can also set up fans, ice buckets, and more to keep your guests comfortable. Be sure to have plenty of cool drinking water and sports drinks on hand as well.