Serving up the Latest on Share Plates and Canapes

We’re beginning to see an abundance of major events return to our calendars here in Australia, in what should be a welcome sign for events and catering professionals. It’s no secret that the sector has struggled over the past 12-months, but as restrictions continue to ease, operators should see more opportunities to recover some of their losses.


However, there are still a few rules and restrictions that caterers need to be aware of when moving into this new phase of foodservice. So, if you needed an update on share platters, buffets and canape service, here’s the latest:



Restrictions Around Sharing Platters, Canapes and Buffets


Although the rules around “a la carte” dining and delivery have been relaxed, there’s still a few rules around hosting a shared buffet style service depending on what state you’re in. Here is a state-by-state break down as at the date of this newsletter:


  • VIC – Self-service buffet-style food service areas, cutlery and glass stations, and communal drink and condiment stations are not permitted.


  • NSW Self-serve buffet style food service areas, communal bar snacks, and communal condiments are not permitted.


  • QLD – A person who owns, controls or operates a restricted business, activity or undertaking that serves food must not allow food to be served via self-service buffet.


  • WA – Self-service areas like buffets, accommodation breakfast bars and aviation club lounges could suggest that customers use hand sanitiser pre-commencement of service.


  • SA – No shared utensils may be provided in the course of providing the service of any food or beverages. No communal food or beverage service areas may operate, this includes buffets, salad bars or or sauce dispensers.


  • ACT – If businesses choose to have self-serve buffets, they must implement additional risk mitigation measures, and ensure that they are documented in the COVID-19 Safety Plan for the business. Ensure that self-serve buffets are appropriately supervised by staff, particularly during busy periods. Ensure that hand sanitiser is available and used by patrons prior to using the self-serve buffet. Regularly replace any shared utensils with clean ones. This could be done at least every hour and more regularly during busy periods.


  • NT – Self-service areas like buffets, accommodation breakfast bars and, aviation club lounges should be well supervised and require the customer to use hand sanitiser pre commencement of service. Areas should be regularly monitored, and cleaning protocols adhered to.


  • TAS – No restrictions or guidelines.


Pivoting and Adapting


Considering these ever evolving restrictions, many events and catering businesses have chosen to pivot away from these forms of foodservice. As owner of HSG At The Gardens, chef Dion Taylor spoke to us last year about how they adopted a pre-fab meal business model to supplement their lack of events during lockdowns:


“Business owners are being tested but seeing how people are innovating to keep things going has been really great. I appreciate people finding creative ways to adapt and have some fun with it.” Dion explained.


“In terms of how we’ve been able to adapt as a business, I like to say we’ve gone from canapes to container meals.”


Pivoting to a business model like this seems to have been a trend among caterers, with Food & Beverage suggesting that 40 percent of revenue for caterers came from home delivery during the height of the pandemic.


Finding new ways to supplement your business is key. Plus, keeping up to date with the latest COVID restrictions is also essential.



What’s Next?


Although the pandemic has taught us to take future forecasting with a grain of salt, some media outlets have suggested that there are signs of optimism ahead. According to Ibis World, the demand for catering services is projected to rise over the next five years as the sector continues to recover. Following April 2020 orders have been picking up steadily, with staff returning to their offices an expected factor for this.


As for share platters, canapes and buffets, we ask this question; will customers ever be as comfortable as they once were with these styles of service? It’s hard to tell. But the pandemic, as it has done for many sectors, forced businesses to take a long look at what they are doing, and some are embracing the change.