An outdoor picnic spread with cheese, fruits, and meat.

How to Prepare a Summer Buffet

Summer entertaining requires easy preparations, the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients…and plenty of flexibility! Everyone’s on the go; some friends will cancel at the last minute, while others will show up unexpectedly. Traditional parties are difficult to pull off, and take too much time and effort away from the free-spirited fun of summer. But a buffet – communal-style eating and drinking that can be assembled ahead of time to accommodate a range of guests’ tastes and availability – can make summer entertaining simple, sassy, and fun. Here are our top tips on putting together a successful summertime buffet:

Layout is Key: The table should begin with serving dishes and flatware wrapped in napkins, so guests can quickly grab all they’ll need to assemble their plates and eat. Present cold appetizers before the hot foods, so the hot foods do not get cold while your guests are in line at the buffet. Set up a separate buffet table for drinks and desserts.

Menu in Balance: Achieve the perfect buffet balance with 4-5 dishes that incorporate a variety of cheeses, meats, vegetables, fruits and starches. To avoid making the buffet seem haphazard, establish a theme to guide the menu choices, such as an appetizer buffet or a beach-style brunch.

Outdoor Party Rules: Remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use hot plates and Sterno® dishes for the warm foods, and nestle cold dishes in a bowl or pan filled with ice. Also, cover the food and light candles on the table to repel insects.

Keep it Pretty: Buffet-style service can be messy, and often a buffet table loses its appetizing look after about 30 minutes. To avoid this, divide the recipes between two dishes. Place one of each out to serve, and hold the others in refrigeration. Then you can “refresh” the buffet with tempting new serving dishes as the others become depleted or visually unappealing.

Throwing a summer party of your own? Tag us on social media @pierrecheesemarket to share your creative buffet ideas!