In the culinary world, there is a difference between preparing meals for small groups of customers and catering for large groups partaking in events. While the former is a more common and expected practice, the latter often catches restaurant owners and their staff alike off guard. 

However, by knowing what steps to take to ensure the smooth functioning of such events, restaurants have the opportunity to do the following for a large number of customers:

  • Demonstrate the quality of their food and service.
  • Make a good impression and create memorable experiences.
  • Avoid potential pitfalls by planning ahead.

One of the keys to hosting a group event is to prepare the right appetizers. These dishes will keep customers content while waiting for their main course and help the flow of socializing at the table. Read on to find out why they are an essential component and what your establishment can prepare.

Knowing Your Customers

Before deciding what menu options to offer, knowing something about your customers puts you at a strong starting point. While it’s impossible to know who these individuals are personally and what all of their dietary preferences may be, there are certain things to consider.

These include the nature of the event, specific demands made regarding preferences, dietary restrictions, and the demographic of the guests. Taking note of this information will give you the basis on which you can build the perfect menu.

Diverse Ingredients, Shared Experiences

A diverse set of ingredients is the key to ensuring all customers are satisfied. Embracing variety also provides kitchens with the opportunity to get creative and showcase their food presentation skills in various ways. 

By preparing a mix of seafood, vegetarian, and meat-based options, you can ensure that there is something for everyone.

Appetizer Menu Suggestions


For seafood lovers, serve this Quick Garlic Shrimp with Skillet Gnocchi. While this delicious dish can also be served as a main, it makes an ideal appetizer for gatherings as its main components of shrimp and gnocchi make for small, convenient bites.

Quick Garlic Shrimp with Skillet Gnocchi


When considering dietary preferences, having vegetarian options available is perhaps the most important from a business perspective. Vegetarianism has grown considerably over the years, to the point where vegetarian food alone is a major player in the market.

The Canadian classic poutine is a popular and meat-free dish that can be enjoyed as an appetizer, but to give it some extra originality and elegance, prepare this Skillet Gnocchi Poutine in which fries are replaced with fresh gnocchi.

Alternatively, this Cheese Filled Skillet Gnocchi with Lemon, Ricotta and Asparagus is a vegetarian option that not only contains delicious-tasting cheese but also makes use of asparagus, allowing for a fresh flavour and green vibrancy.


When it comes to meat options for sharing, nachos are a firm favourite, particularly for gatherings and events. Our Gnocchi Skillet Nachos elevate a typical nachos dish by giving it an extra comforting texture from the soft potato within the gnocchi.

Gnocchi Skillet Nachos

Finger Foods

Appetizers that can be picked up with ease and eaten by hand, known as finger foods, make an excellent option for large groups; they can be enjoyed while socializing and require no use of cutlery. 

This is where tasty but simple Skillet Gnocchi Antipasto Bites come into play. Since they are essentially a combination of different small bites added onto skewers, there is plenty of room for variation to please all customers and their various preferences. 

Given that pizza is not known to be finger food, these Gnocchi Pizza Bites truly stand out. As a unique appetizer boasting familiar flavours with a distinct twist, serving these to keep the crowd happy from the get-go is a safe bet. 

gnocchi_pizza_bites-Creative Menus: Twists on Classic Italian Dishes blog-
Gnocchi Pizza Bites

Presentation Matters

Dishes that are vibrant and well-presented are more likely to leave a lasting impression on customers. What’s more is that nowadays, an attractive-looking plate can often be photographed and shared by customers, meaning promotion in the most natural form.

With this Fresh Mozzarella Tomato Crostini dish, the bright colours of Italy spring to life in the green from Olivieri® Basil & Cheese Pesto, white mozzarella cheese, and fresh red tomatoes to complete a visually appealing and traditional culinary delight.

Another dish that’s full of colour but with a tinge of Latin flair is this Black Bean Salsa. While this can be consumed with tortilla chips, it’s versatile enough to also be paired with other handheld foods that are ideal for dipping, such as gnocchi, potato wedges, fries, and various vegetables.

black bean salsa
Black Bean Salsa

For more meal inspiration to help your establishment make a good impression, see our inspiration section. Or take a look at our products to see what you can bring to your kitchen.