What’s on the Menu in 2016? Melbourne’s Catering Trends

What’s on the Menu in 2016? Melbourne’s Catering Trends

Melbourne is renowned as Australia’s capital of good food. And, despite some increasing competition from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and the Gold Coast (our collective food culture really is getting better by the week), Melbourne continues to live up to its reputation.

This cultural status means ‘Melbournites’ are fashionable about their food. They’re picky, demanding, and quickly change preference according to current trends. What’s ‘in’ now might not be so popular next month or year, and everyone who’s throwing a party likes to be sure they are serving up the right food.

So, what’s ‘trending’ in the great city of Melbourne for 2016? Foods as funky and hip as the culture, really. Take a look below, and you’ll see what’s hot.

Mini foods

Mini versions of pies and burgers, as well as mini fish and chip buckets, have always been popular for catering purposes; they can be eaten while standing, don’t require the use of utensils, and don’t call for close proximity to a table (which is just as well, because casual events never have enough tables to go ‘round).

A key trend at the moment is mini comfort foods, or rich, hearty, flavourful food that is easy to eat and enjoy on the run. Dishes such as mini tacos and foie gras burgers look enticing on serving plates, and have good, strong, memorable flavours.


The world loves bacon, and people in Melbourne are loving how versatile bacon can be. Really creative bacon dishes such as whiskey/bacon/maple cocktails, or bacon and sea salt chocolate bars, are absolutely delightful and perfect for small portions in mass catering.

However, it’s worth remembering that some religions prohibit the consumption of bacon and, in cities such as Melbourne, it’s important to check for any dietary requirements in event attendees, or at least offer alternatives so certain guests aren’t left hungry.

Greens, no meat

There has been a remarkable upswing in the demand for vegetarian and vegan meals. Even people who are not vegetarians are embracing dishes without meat, for both the health and flavour benefits.

The range of colours available with vegetarian food makes for some stunning, aesthetically-pleasing dishes. Mini vegetarian quiches with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes, and water chestnut and shiitake mushroom puffs filled with crunchy Asian vegetables are a couple of our favourites at Catering on the Move, which will undoubtedly suit Melbourne’s love for tasty, fashionable and instagram-worthy food.

Freshly cooked

Once upon a time, it was acceptable to serve pre-packaged food, especially for large catering jobs. That won’t fly in Melbourne any longer. Guests have come to expect catering prepared at a cooking station during the event. Some events even make a show of it by having the chefs prepare the meal ‘live’ in a corner or booth of the event space. Our ‘pizza on the move’ is a great example – your guests can watch us prepare and bake pizzas right in front of them.

No longer a ‘one size fits all’ approach

Perhaps the most significant trend in Melbourne’s food catering industry is a move away from the traditional pre-packaging of menu options. Where once a customer would be provided with a list of the available menu options and asked to pick their preferences, now caterers are working closely with their customers to develop an individualised menu for specific events.

This means catering companies are starting to provide consultancy services, alongside regular catering. The best caterers are rapidly learning how to develop menus that suit the theme of the event – understanding that a business conference in a hotel is a very different experience to a Christmas party or warehouse event, and that the dishes should be tailored to suit. Additionally, caterers are expected to to listen to the ideas of their customers and develop a menu to reflect those ideas. At Catering on the Move, we offer menu choices to help make our clients decisions easier, but all of our menu choices remain completely flexible.

It’s a fascinating time to be in the catering business in Melbourne. Customers are undeniably more demanding, but being able to meet those demands means a great deal of satisfaction – for both the customer and those in the catering business.

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