Catering for Melbourne Cup Events

Melbourne Cup Day is the perfect excuse to throw a party. It’s an opportunity to treat clients, friends or colleagues to a great afternoon of delicious catering, champagne and chatter – and of course, watch the race that stops the nation!
As soon as you’ve decided on the venue for your Melbourne Cup party – perhaps your luxurious home, the office or some funky new venue - you’re going to need to find a fantastic catering company to provide the spread. Sure you could cater the event yourself, but why put yourself through the stress when there is an outfit to plan!
Choosing the perfect caterer for your event does need a little consideration and we recommend you check out our handy little guide on How to choose an event caterer before you make any firm decisions. You can, of course, also browse our full list of event caterers in Sydney too.
Now let’s explore what type of catering is best suited to your event. Melbourne Cup is always run at 3pm on the first Tuesday of November – so your event is more than likely going to be hosted on a warm spring day over the lunch period.
There are three main options for catering a Melbourne Cup event: a sit down lunch, stand up roving canapes or hampers. Let’s look at each one so you can decide which is best for your event. We’ve also included a few little tips to ensure you (or should we say, your trusted caterer) do it right. There’s nothing like being well informed when hiring a supplier!

What type of catering works best for Melbourne Cup events?

1. Hosting a Sit Down Lunch Event

Hosting a lunch time event is a great idea if you want to provide a more formal occasion. Having all your guests seated for the majority of the event gives you a chance to get everyone’s attention for presentations, speeches, fashion parades… this is a little tougher when your guests are free to roam. It’s also great if you have older guests attending who won’t want to stand for the duration of the event.
Lunch menus by their nature tend to be light and fresh, however we advise you to ensure your menu is still substantial – Melbourne Cup lunches can be a bit boozy, so having something to help soak up the alcohol is a priority (bread rolls on the table is a good start!).
You’ll want to ensure all food is cleared by 3pm when the race starts – guests will want to be up on their feet! After the race, let your guests roam or hit the dance floor. 
Saving dessert until after the race can be a good idea, but make sure it’s either roaming dessert canapes or a dessert station – guests are unlikely to return to the table for a plated option after the race.
Images from Dining Abode

2. Provide Stand Up Roving Canapes & Food Stations

Stand up style events are great for creating a party atmosphere at your Melbourne Cup event – if you were at the race track you would be standing too! A cocktail style event allows guests to mingle easily and roam the room. 
When catering for this style of event, no matter what your numbers, we recommend having food stations as well as roving canapes. By having food available in stationary spots (i.e. platters on tables or a gorgeously styled food station), guests can always get something to eat - even when a waiter isn’t in sight. Ensuring there are enough wait staff to work the room efficiently is also key – don’t let those people hanging out on the balcony go hungry! 
Melbourne Cup Catering | HostCo Catering
Images from HostCo Catering

3. Order in Gourmet Hampers

There are now quite a few companies that deliver hamper style catering packs, which are perfect for Melbourne Cup events in the office or home. Smaller and more casual style events still deserve excellent catering and ordering in a gourmet hamper from a professional catering company is a great way to do it. 
Hampers come ready to go (or some come with instructions for reheating hot items), but essentially you won’t need wait staff or a kitchen. Cleaning up is also a breeze!
Melbourne Cup Catering | The Dropp, Sydney
Images from The Dropp

Final word...

If you need some help finding the best caterer for your event, check out our full list of Sydney catering companies.
You might also be interested in reading our fabulous guide on How to host a Melbourne Cup Party or How to style a Melbourne Cup event.  

*Header image provided by Gastronomy, art & science of food

Blog updated: October 2018