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My Night of Eating Very Oddly Presented Food

One night last week I got to be E’s guest at a fancy-ish fundraising soirée in Manhattan. As you expect at such an event, there was lots of free food — much of it presented in very unusual ways.

I should say here that I rarely attend this type of event, so maybe this style of presentation is nothing new. But it was new to me (and E said she’d never seen anything quite like it either), so I thought I’d share some photos that I took.

One station had little kebab-style offerings — a shrimp with a piece of pineapple, or a piece of steak with a piece of eggplant. But instead of sticking these on wooden skewers, each little serving was mounted on a two-pronged metal fork, and then each fork was displayed on a magnetized display, so the food-laden forks sort of stood at attention, waiting for the guests to grab them off of the magnetized surface:

It was really clever, and there was something fun about interacting with the magnetized forks. Also, the shrimp/pineapple thingies were really good.

The next station had an assortment of salad-y things on endive leaves. They were presented on curved pieces of plastic mounted on tree branches, all of which seemed completely ridiculous (but I’m probably biased by not liking salad-y things on endive leaves to begin with):

Next up was a station with pizza, which for some reason was being hung on metal hooks:

This seemed like a bad move. Like, if your pizza can hang like that without the cheese dripping off of it or any topping falling off of it, you’re basically telling me that it’s cold. Also, the workers at the station were not adding the holes to the pizza slices — the holes were already in the slices, and the workers were just hanging them. Which means some poor soul was in a back room somewhere endlessly punching holes in these pizza slices. The whole thing made me sad.

Later, while we were hanging out in the main area, several pairs of workers came out. Each pair was holding a long-ish tree branch, each branch was studded with little cups, and each cup held some sort of fried item:

From a distance, we couldn’t tell what the fried items were. Maybe prawns? Upon closer inspection, they turned out to be little clumps of potato sticks — or basically french fries:

The fries were fine, but it seemed kind of silly that they had to be served by pairs of workers holding long sticks.

The two-pronged metal forks were back for dessert. This time they were used to serve little smores-like confections, each magnetically affixed to a tray carried by a roaming server:

Much like the other magnetic display, this one seemed clever and fun to interact with.

There was also a server who was serving hors d’oeuvres from this hinged wooden contraption. I didn’t get a photo of it, unfortunately, but here’s a drawing of how I remember it looking (the black dots are the hors d’oeuvres):

So that was my night of oddly presented food. I really should have gotten the caterer’s name, because they clearly take an unusual approach to their work.

Update: Reader/commenter Rob S. has pointed out something I really should have noticed, namely that the caterer’s name — “Pinch” — is visible on a server’s apron. Shame on me for not picking up on that! Here’s their website, and here’s the serving gizmo I tried to draw (as you can see, I didn’t remember it accurately):

Comments (28)

    Proofreading: In the second paragraph “…so many this style…”. Did you mean “… so to many this style…”?

    The first magnetic fork thing seems like a great idea, but the rest just seem “weird for the sake of weird” imo. Definitely interesting, though! I like how the facial expression on the woman holding the “fry log” seems to be saying, “Yea, I know this looks ridiculous, too”.

    I like this approach because it’s unique and definitely sustainably-minded. All the forks/cups/branches are infinitely reusable, and less wasteful than individual plates/napkins/skewers. Great idea! Maybe went a little over the top in production.

    It’s actually on the apron of the server in the photos of the first magnetic fork setting – Pinch Food Design, which can be found at

    Thanks for the research and website link. Here’s the hinged display Paul couldn’t get a picture of.


    Paul, can you confirm?

    Gah — not only was the name right there, but it was *on their uniforms*! Shame on me for not noticing that.

    Will update the post now.

    It feels like in most cases the presentation is there to distract from the “meh”-ness of the food.

    Some of these presentations seem really smart and fun–the skewers on the magnet boards for example–but the long narrow tray that needs two servers to carry it is such a bad idea. It’s an accident (and a lost of wasted food) waiting to happen.

    This looks like fun! Some odd choices as you say, like the pizza, but I’d definitely be interested in attending such an event.

    This is representative of the little things I will miss from this site when you go. Glad we got one more before the end. Thank you!

    Glad you like! When my rebranded Substack launches at some point this summer, it will have a lot of stuff like this.

    I call all of this “trying to hard” to be unusual and get social media involved.

    I bet that pulling those forks off of the kebab display was one of those “oddly satisfying” experiences.

    Never seen a presentation like this before. I probably would have camped out in front of the very first set with the shrimp/pineapple & steak/eggplant and made myself probably not the most well liked guest LOL. Looked fantastic. And, if they do this as a catering company, it would make sense to use this type of reusable skewers. Love the idea of this instead of typical bamboo. The pizza, I probably would have stayed away from unless is was kept at a proper catering temp.

    We had our wedding reception done by a local place that specialized in hors d’oeuvres rather than seating and a catered menu. Everyone loved it since it was outside and everyone could mingle instead of sitting at a table eating a meal. Very interesting and thanks for sharing!

    I’ve always enjoyed when you go off topic once in a while, especially when it’s food related! Do you have any plans to attend any beefsteaks this year?

    Awesome article! Love your side adventures and your travelogues. Thanks Paul!

    The French fries tree log must have been used for limbo dancing later on, right?

    I don’t know what those slings are that the servers are wearing, but I find them unsettling. Bit of a brownshirt vibe there for me.

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