Appetizers. Hors d’oeuvres. Finger foods.

Whatever term you use, these tasty tidbits do much more than just tide guests over until dinner. In fact, the word hors d’oeuvres means “outside the main meal” – they set the stage for the meal that is to follow. They’re versatile enough to awaken and enhance the appetite as a refreshing first course, yet with enough variety and quantity, they can also deliver total party sustenance all on their own. Serving a selection of these enticing bites is a sure-fire way to create a fun, festive atmosphere.

If you’re serving appetizers before the meal, keep in mind they are meant to tease the appetite, not satisfy it. Two to three selections should be ample, allowing five to seven servings per person. Appetizers that provide contrast in texture, flavor and temperature deliver an assortment of taste sensations, from spicy and rich, to light and energizing. Stir up the pot by serving hors d’oeuvres that contrast with the main meal, like a seafood appetizer as a bright opener to a main course of roast beef or filet. On the other hand, if you’re planning an ethnic dinner, choose an appetizer from the same origin as the meal to provide a memorable beginning and to maintain a consistent theme throughout the event.

If you’re planning a cocktail party featuring appetizers, be sure to include a few selections that are hearty and filling, especially if alcohol is being served. Factor in the length of your soiré: the longer the evening lasts, the more people will eat. Plan to provide ten to twelve servings per person as a minimum. And make it easy on your party guests: they’ll appreciate easy-to-grasp finger food and bite-size portions with not-too-drippy sauces.

Discover how a selection of upscale appetizers from Matteo’s Gourmet Food Services is the perfect way to get your party rocking!