5 Event Food & Beverage Trends for 2024
What’s trending in group food and beverage (F&B) as 2024 begins? We asked Eric Vaughn, executive director of culinary operations for CAESARS FORUM and the Las Vegas region, to share what his F&B team is preparing for events at Caesars Entertainment venues in Las Vegas this year.
Vaughn is responsible for banquet and culinary operations at all Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas properties, which include Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Paris, Horseshoe, Cromwell, Flamingo, LINQ hotel, LINQ promenade and CAESARS FORUM. Bringing more than 18 years of experience with Caesars Entertainment into his role, Vaughn oversees menu planning, developing a team of chefs, managing kitchens and working closely with restaurant operators.
With direct access to more than 8,500 hotel rooms at Harrah's Las Vegas, The LINQ and Flamingo Hotels, the 550,000-square-foot CAESARS FORUM features 300,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, 100,000 sq. ft. of dedicated outdoor space on the FORUM Plaza and the two of the largest pillarless ballrooms in the world. Caesars Entertainment offers more than 1 million sq. ft. of meeting space, more than 100 restaurants, cafes, lounges and 20,000 guestrooms and suites in Las Vegas.
In 2023, CAESARS FORUM hosted a number of corporate events, as well as major association and for-profit trade shows, including SHOT Show, Commercial UAV Expo, PACK EXPO and Cvent Connect — to name a few.
Here are five taste trends Vaughn shared for 2024:
“It’s maybe not a new trend, but we’re still continuing to see growth in requests for plant-based foods, and we’d be remiss to not mention that. Having plant-based offerings for our menus is probably our top request from planners, and we see no signs of that diminishing next year. From the planner side, it’s a necessity to not only have at least one plant-based dish per meal, but it also needs to be enticing, too. Gone are the days when just a salad could suffice. A lot of people — not just dedicated vegans and vegetarians — want plant-based meals, and that provides some really exciting culinary opportunities for suppliers.”
“Healthier options on menus is another big trend we’ve been seeing for a while now. It’s gotten so large at this point that we’ve even had requests for entirely separate health menus. One of the most frequent healthy requests we see are smoothies. They pack in a lot of nutrients, can be served with a meal or as a snack, and they’re quite colorful usually, which provides visual appeal. This is a trend that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”
“Maybe one of the most popular ingredients we’ve seen making their way onto menus for the past year or so is mushrooms. A whole variety of them, too; we’re seeing everything from oyster and button to shiitake and reishi mushrooms. It makes sense since they work with just about every other food trend we’re seeing. There are some wonderful health benefits associated with mushrooms. They’re a great meat replacement, and they’re fairly climate-friendly. On top of all that, they’re tasty, too. I’d expect to see more of them continuing into 2024.”
“Small bites are continuing to be very popular. They provide a lot of opportunities for personalization and for planners to have fun trying different things. Attendees are often more adventurous with smaller bites – it feels like less of a ‘commitment,’ so to speak, than trying something in a larger portion – so everyone feels more comfortable taking more chances with them. This can lead to some interesting flavor combinations and unexpected twists.”
“Just as we’re seeing in areas beyond F&B, planners are continuing to show interest in sustainability initiatives and that’s showing up in their menu choices now, as well. We’re seeing increasing demand for foods farmed responsibly with lower-impact growing methods. One of the most visible crops you can see this in is grains, which is crucial for soil health. There’s a lot of tie-in here between sustainable foods and plant-based foods, as well.”