Bar and bat mitzvah food pulls into the station

With the current trend toward more individualized and streamlined meals, there are fewer buffets at bar and bat mitzvah parties.

“The trend has always been to serve the adults at the function a dinner and have a buffet for the kids,” said Alan Weiss, owner of Alan Weiss Catering in Washington. “Now the trend is for everyone to have stations, where everyone takes everything they want.”

Part of what’s driving the change is that kids’ tastes are more sophisticated than they used to be, he said. They want more than chicken tenders and French fries.

The flip side of that is that now adults can be like big kids when it comes to digging into the food
stations.

The sky’s the limit for what the stations might contain, but some of the regulars are a carving station, sliders — mini-hamburgers and mini-hot dogs, for example — sweet potatoes, tacos, salad bar, stir-fry vegetables and international foods. Other favorites are omelet, panini and waffle stations.

Then there’s the dessert bar, which might offer mini-French pastries or gourmet cotton candy — the latter becoming increasingly popular.

“The trend anyway has been toward the less formal, and stations are more informal than a sit-down dinner, especially for a bar or bat mitzvah,” said Weiss. “This gives everyone more choices, and they enjoy it more.”

But stations can also be more sophisticated in what they offer — even if less formal than a dinner — and more reliant on the way foods are presented.

Tastes in both food and presentation seem to have become both more sophisticated and more informal.

That seemed to be true of the food at the bar mitzvah of Elyon Topolosky, a student at the Berman Academy, in September. Candy bars and licorice were served in clear glasses. Ice cream bars were on the menu.

But the bar mitzvah celebration also had healthy appetizers and entrees, according to Elyon’s mother, Dahlia Topolosky.

“We served quinoa dishes, trendy salads and deconstructed salad bars, so guests could make their own,” she said.

Another advantage of stations is that guests can make return trips as often as they’d like. And at many bar and bat mitzvah celebrations they can also enjoy the convenience of roaming carts of food.

Of course, all this may require more creativity to go along with the variety.

Ravi Narayanan, executive chef at Potomac 18, a kosher catering company in Rockville, said his goal is to make the food at bar and bat mitzvah celebrations “fun and interactive, so children who may not have been fans of vegetables such as cauliflower, beets, or asparagus get their hands on them and say they’ve never had vegetables like these before.”

Narayanan said he has no set menu — his way of food creation is to compose from scratch — but will ask families what they like to eat — and where they like to eat out.

“I don’t think kids go to other bar/bat mitzvah parties thinking that they’re going to have their own party next year and decide then what they’d like to eat,” he said. “So, you can take the fun foods they like and are familiar with and showcase them in different ways.”

Boys and girls approaching their milestone with a sweet tooth, might want to make donuts the centerpiece of their dessert table.

Duck Donuts — with seven locations in the Washington area — offers doughy confectionaries in more variations than the mind can conjure up. You can choose the standard donuts, or made-to-order ones, choosing coating, topping, and drizzle according to your taste.

“They’re freshly made, and could be delivered as part of our catering line, which is a decent percentage of our business,” said Travis Gafford, general manager.

There’s no limitation on quantity, he added. The company has delivered 60 dozen donuts to one event.

That’s 840 holes.

Barbara Trainin Blank is a Washington-area writer.

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