Healthy doesn't have to be boring, but presentation is key
The right stuff
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group launched its ‘Experience Meetings’ concept across its Radisson Blu portfolio in Asia-Pacific in 2015, incorporating the concept of brain food.
Based on six core principles developed with nutrition experts and chefs, it features fish, wholegrain products, fruits and vegetables; primarily fresh, locally sourced foods; pure ingredients, with minimal processing; less meat with never more than 10 per cent fat content; a focus on delicious taste and natural sweetening with no more than 10 per cent sugar.
“We try to ensure fat content and added sugar are kept at low levels, resulting in increased concentration and reduced fatigue amongst meeting participants,” says Bastian Gaerner, hotel manager at Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok.
Don’t compromise on taste
Encompassing all five senses is key to evoking an emotive response from events and taste is an important aspect of this. As people become more health conscious, guests want food that is nutritious. But it has to taste great, too.
“Event caterers have caught onto this trend, and now provide a broad range of healthy, gluten free, vegan and/or vegetarian options, while also weaving the offering into the overall event theme,” says Niru Desai, VP of strategy at FreemanXP EMEA.
Tasty brain foods such as oily fish, leafy greens, avocados, blueberries, nuts and seeds are now frequently seen on event menus, while ingredients such as ginger are celebrated for their energising properties.
Presentation is key
Healthy food can be fun too, and presentation has a key role to play here. Different examples that Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok has used include food plated on Rubik’s Cubes or buffets served with optical illusionthemed decorations. Aimed at sparking the notion of ideas, fresh juices can be served in ‘light bulb’ glasses.
To add a special touch, planners should also consider infusing local flavours in brain food offerings, such as organic produce sourced from local farms.
With the increasingly global nature of the events industry, where one event can attract audiences from around the world, brain food can mean different things to different people.
“[As event planners], we need to provide food and beverage options that reflect the various nationalities and cultural practices of delegates,” says FreemanXP EMEA’s Desai.
“Additionally, consider that attendees may want to know how and where foods are sourced, and how excess food is treated—does it go to charity? Do staff get to take it home, or does it go to waste?”
Get the timing right
Consider what you want to achieve from brain food. Whether it is to energise, foster productivity or reduce fatigue, menus can be customised accordingly with food tailored to meet clients’ needs at different times of the day, from breakfast breaks to lunches to afternoon breaks.