In Breakfast Catering, Catering Tips

The continental breakfast is one of the most common forms of breakfast catering.

It is served around the globe in various forms, but what exactly is a continental breakfast?

Well, continental breakfast catering usually consists of simple pastries, bread, fruits, and a coffee and tea spread.

Today, the term simply refers to a light breakfast, but it has much older origins with a particular set of offerings.

The origins of the continental breakfast

In the 1800s, in places like the US and England, breakfast tended to be a rather heavy affair. Most hotels would offer a hearty meal with some combination of sausages, eggs, bacon, pancakes, waffles, toast, beans, and pudding.

People living in the mainland European continent didn’t have breakfasts that were this heavy. If you were to visit places like France or Italy during this time, you would be served a very light breakfast that primarily featured bread products.

It was only when more European workers and tourists started traveling to England and America that these countries started to adapt their menus to meet foreign tastes and expectations. Most hotels serving foreign visitors found that a light breakfast was simply a better option to serve.

Europeans preferred a small meal to start the day, and for the hoteliers, the ingredients this breakfast fare required were easy to stock and keep for several weeks, cheap to order, and simple to prepare.

So in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it became customary for American and British hoteliers to serve this breakfast. The term continental breakfast is a derivation of how people would refer to the countries occupying the European mainland as the continent.

What items are typically served in a continental breakfast?

Most of the food served in a continental breakfast catering menu are foods that are generally well-liked by the masses and are almost always served buffet style.

Here’s a rundown of the food items you’ll often find in a continental breakfast spread.

Bread products

Bread products are the main offering of the continental breakfast, where you can often find items like:

  • Croissants
  • Pastries
  • Bread/toast
  • Bagels
  • Muffins
  • Donuts

This section also includes condiments like butter, cream cheese, and jam/jelly.

Fruit and fruit juice

Continental breakfasts provide some fruit as well to serve as a healthier option.

This usually includes items like apples, bananas, melons, pears, grapes, and an assortment of berries.

Another staple of the continental breakfast is fruit juice, where the option is traditionally between orange and apple juice. Your caterer, however, can choose to expand these options with cranberry, grapefruit, and grape juice among others.

Coffee and tea

Most continental breakfasts will top it all off with coffee and tea.

Ideally, the coffee you are offered will be freshly brewed. For tea, guests are generally offered tea bags.

Tea and coffee drinkers will have the option of customizing their drinks to suit their palate with milk, cream, and sweeteners as well.

Optional additions

There is also a variety of other foods that, while not typically served at continental breakfasts, may be seen depending on the type of service you are offered.

  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Cheese

Over time, the continental breakfast has become the norm around the world, and more variations of this meal are being offered, with a lot more of these items added on to widen the spread.

For instance, here in the US, many continental breakfast catering services will include hot breakfast catering items like scrambled eggs, bacon, and other breakfast meats even though the continental spread is traditionally a cold buffet.

What makes for good continental breakfast catering?

The quality of a continental breakfast is often dependent on the quantity and quality of its offerings.

So ensure that when you’re hiring a professional caterer they use only the freshest products for their food while offering an appropriate assortment of foods for your continental breakfast catering offering.

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