What is a Banquet ?

Banqueting is the term used to describe the service of special functions in an establishment [ Banquet ] which is separated  from  the  normal  dining  or service area  found   in  the  various  restaurants  within  the Hospitality sector, meaning a service of special functions for a specific group  of people at specific times where food and beverages are pre-selected or determined.

Functions take place within banquet rooms (or outdoors, i.e.: caterings) and are under the supervision and responsibilities of the F&B Department and its Head, the overall responsibility though has the Hotel Manager  or  Assistant  Manager.  The  Banqueting  Manager  has  the  administrative  control  of  all functions (applies to larger Hotels/Resorts).

Banquet  rooms consist of the actual function room and  may  also feature pre-function areas  for registration or coffee breaks etc. Banquet rooms are suitable for both business and  leisure groups to hold; meetings, seminars, balls, weddings, anniversaries, etc.

Banquets can be very profitable. In addition, successful banquets have an impact on the property’s community relations and can influence the number of rooms it sells to corporate accounts.

Banqueting allows great flexibility in pricing. High-volume food preparation assists to save money and can reduce food and  beverage cost. Moreover, food can be purchased on an “as needed” basis; therefore, excessive funds are not tied up in the inventory.

Beverage income also adds  to the profitability of banquet sales. Contribution margins (beverage income  minus  beverage  costs)  for  beverage  service  can  have  a   significant  impact  on   the Department’s profits.

Production forecasting and planning are relatively easy in serving a pre-established number of guest.

Categorization of Banquet Functions

There is no setup rule for banquet setting except for ceremonies of State, Military or Royal functions according to a protocol.

Setup  must be functional  in  order  to  serve its purpose.  The  Banquet  Manager/Supervisor  etc. is responsible for drawing-up the layout plan  such as  table plans, buffet  lines, service stations etc, according to the instruction given/listed on the ‘Function Order’.

Typical Banquet Setup styles

banquet typical setup styles

Classroom/Seminar style for Business Events

  • PR Functions (Press release, Fashion, Dealer’s Meeting, Seminars, Exhibitions)
  • Conferences (Political, Trade Union, National Sales, International, etc)
  • Internal or External Briefings

Classroom/Seminar setup, important points:

  • –     Overhead projector/LCD projector table may be used for classroom setups.
  • –     3-5 people per classroom/seminar table.
  • –     Each seating has a pencil, a note pad and a water glass plus coaster set in front of it.
  • –     2 ½ feet spacing between tables.

Round Tales for Formal, Social or Business Events

  • Luncheon
  • Dinner/Dinner Dance
  • Buffet
  • Wedding
  • Annual Ball
  • Graduation Dinner

Round table set up, some important points:

  • –     Round tables are used (normally) for formal dinner setups where smaller parties can join easily.
  • –     Max. 10 person per table.
  • –     Table legs are lined-up in the same direction.
  • –     Setup ‘molton’/under-lay before the table cloth.
  • –     Table cloths and chair covers must be properly ironed.

Oblong/Rectangular Tables for Formal, Social or Business Events

  • Luncheons/Dinner/Dinner Dance/Banquets
  • Buffets
  • Annual Ball/Graduation Dinner

Round table set up, important points:

  • –     Oblong/rectangular tables are primarily used for banquet setups.
  • –     8-10 person per table.
  • –     Table legs are lined-up in the same direction.
  • –     Setup ‘molton’/under-lay before the table cloth.
  • –     Table cloths and chair covers must be properly ironed.

U-Shape for Business Events

  • Meeting/Conference/Press release/Seminars

Comb-shape style

U – shape set up, important points:

  • –     Seminar tables are primarily used for meeting setups.
  • –     Max. 3 person per table.
  • –     Table legs are lined-up in the same direction.
  • –     Table cloth is preferably used, green felt shall be avoided.
  • –     Each seating has a pencil, a note pad and a water glass plus coaster set in front of it.
  • –     2 ½ feet spacing between tables.

Congress/Theatre style for Business Events

  • Meeting/ Press release/ Seminar/Speeches

Congress/theatre style setup, important points:

  • –     All theatre/congress setup has a service station (at least 1 set per 40-50 person).
  • –     Approximately 2-4” inches between chair to chair.
  • –     Approximately 1 ½ chair-width between rows.
  • –     Platform is used for the speaker.

Banquet Guest Flow

For typical buffet arrangements, it is suggested that plates are setup at one  end  of the buffet table, starting with first  to main to dessert courses. Bread and  butter can be set on the guest table or alternatively placed on the buffet table at the beginning.

It is also recommended to use tables like “islands” to generate a smooth “free flow”-system which is rather more effective then a buffet line, above a certain amount of guests.

Buffet Line

buffet line

Free Flow

banquet free flow

Type of Meal Periods in  Banquet

types of meal periods in banquet

Banquet Service Techniques Indicators

  1. Service Time
  2. Time available the guest has to spend in the restaurant
  3. Type of clientele
  4. Service material
  5. Qualification/skills of associates
  6. Art, style and capacity of the restaurant

The above mentioned six criteria are crucial in order to choose the right type  of service technique used  by its banquet operation; in addition also depending on the client’s request what is to be expected for this particular event.

However, most banquets/events where breakfast/lunch/dinner/supper etc is requested, either ‘Buffet Service’ or

‘Service by Plate (table service)’ is commonly used.

More challenging service techniques  such  as the  additional  ‘Voiture  Service’ or ‘Guèridon  Service’ combined with buffet or table service is  rarely found  or only in gourmet temples since its techniques needs highly skilled, efficient service associates and  time. However those service techniques are very elegant service techniques, perfectly suitable for anniversaries, promotion or gala dinners in smaller group or up to the Hotel/Resort’s capacity possible in order to execute its smooth operation.

Service Techniques used for Banquets

Service by Plates – Pre-plated Service – American Service

Pre-plated service means that the food is served on the guest’s plate, prepared in the kitchen and brought to the guest. This type of service is  commonly used where service is required to be fast or formal. The plates are always served from the right side.

Service by Platter – Platter Service – English Service

Food is brought on platters by the server. Each guest has a pre-heated plate on the table. The waiter serves from the platter, always from the left side onto the guest’s plate. For “supplement” service the waiter replenishes new platters from the kitchen.

Guèridon Service – Service from a Trolley with heating Elements

The platters from the kitchen are presented to the guest first and then placed on the sideboard/trolley with  heating  elements.  The  hot  plates  for  the  guests  are  placed  in  front  of  the platters.  The  waiter serves  each  item  from  the  different  platters  onto  the hot  guest  plates  and  distributes  all  prepared plates until each guest has its plate. The platters are presented from the left side; the plates are served from the right side. The waiter serves each guest using a service spoon and fork.

This type of service is a very elegant service technique and needs professional waiters and time.

Voiture Service – Service from a chilled or heated Trolley

Specialties or daily specials/sets are presented from a  moveable (sometimes heated) trolley, and served on a chilled or heated plate. Salads, cheese or sweets can also be served from the trolley.

Buffet Service

Buffets cater cold or hot food & beverage items.

Buffets can also be part of a menu like a salad-, first course-, or dessert buffet. Buffets can be themed such as a farmer-, American-, or International buffet.

It depends also on the time of the day like a breakfast, brunch or lunch buffet.

It can be even a beverage, aperitif, liqueur, or coffee-break buffet, multiple options are possible.

We differentiate  between  self-serviced  and  served  buffets.  Self-serviced  buffets  are  operated  in a one-way direction. The guest picks first the plate, then the first courses, followed with the hot items, finished by the dessert section.

Service Sequences used for Banquets

French Services-Family Service

The food is pre-platted and  presented from the left side and  placed in the middle of the table. The guest serves themselves. This type of service is popular in the French and  Asian cuisine (i.e. Thai), also for fondue specialty restaurants. Commonly seen combined with the table d’hôte service.

Banquet Service

A banquet is  a large public meal or feast/  event, complete with first, main courses and  desserts. It usually serves a purpose, such as a charitable gathering, a ceremony, or a celebration. The menu, the time and the location is given; also a banquet is always for a group.

Catering Service

Depending on the event, food and  beverages, cutlery, chinaware, stainless and  glassware is served outside the premises. It is either a banquet service or  a food delivery  catered served by the hotel/ resort or company.

Learn more about Cuisine – Regional Cookery for banquet
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