Does your business card come with dressing on the side?

When asked about a quick, cheap, and easy lunch at a meeting, most (Danish) meeting planners I know think “sandwiches”. But in order not to be too cheap and too unhealthy the sandwiches are made with rustic whole wheat rolls topped with loads of meat and enough lettuce to feed an entire farm. All in the best meaning.

My issue with sandwiches is that they are not easy to eat graciously. Have you tried eating a sandwich on a delicious, slow proven bun with a topping of tomatoes, pickled cucumbers, arugula galore, chicken slices, cream cheese, and an over-delicious dressing? In which case, you know exactly what I mean! It is especially difficult to shake hands, present yourself in a professional manner, and exchange business cards (in other words; network) while eating a sandwich with topping and dressing dripping out at the other end and balancing a glass of organic juice on your plate. Quite unfortunate if the person you are trying to network with is a potential employer, customer, or business partner…

Instead, I would suggest a range of small dishes to be eaten with a fork from small plates or glasses. Even if the portions are small, your guests will not eat more. Of course some might take a second or even third portion, but most would stop and ask themselves if they actually need that extra portion. Ask the hotel/caterer/kitchen to play around and invent new treats that can be served in small dishes, cups, or glasses. Perhaps you could even help reduce food waste as the chef would be able to use less desirable cuts of meat for the salad or something that wouldn’t work on a dinner plate, but looks like a million in a glass jar.

And if it is absolutely necessary to serve a sandwich, I would stick to the tried and tested triangular sandwiches – boring and old fashioned…well, that is up to the chef, and they are still easier to eat with just one hand. Alternatively, how about serving wraps…just remember to make sure they are closed at the end.

Just remember that when you serve food that should be eaten with a fork while participants are networking, you need to provide high tops. I know the small plastic gadgets to put on the rim of your plate which can hold your wine glass, but it is just easier to greet someone and exchange business cards with both hands free of utensils.

Last, but not least, keep your participant demographics in mind. Small glasses with quirky small dishes may not be suitable for a bunch of craftsmen used to eating hearty portions to keep up with their hard work. Here a full buffet may be a better choice.

Also, remember from where in the world your participants are. Some cultures do not approve of certain foods because of religious beliefs while others do not from tradition (just as many Asians do not like sandwiches). And a good host always takes good care of her guests!