One of A Kind Events With Zafferano

What to serve and how to serve it this season with award-winning caterers Zafferano

From wow-factor centrepieces to DIY canapé stations, Toast.Life chats to Joanna Moody, Creative Director of award-winning caterers Zafferano, to get her top tips on what to serve and how to serve it this season, in truly imaginative, unforgettable Zafferano-style.

In the who’s who list of the most highly sought-after caterers in the industry, Zafferano is one of the very top. This award-winning luxury London event, party and wedding caterer not only caters for the premium corporate and private event market, but they are also accredited at over 50 of London's most prestigious venues, including the Natural History Museum, V&A Museum, Guildhall, the National Gallery and more. And when it comes to their signature style?

“One word…” smiles Creative Director Joanna Moody. “Theatre, darling!”

Simply put, Zafferano events raise the bar. Their secret ingredient is the theatre of staging a party or event, and their passion for spectacular performances is only matched by their obsession with incredible food, show-stopping design and peerless service. It’s no surprise that many of their clients are the giants of the London entertainment world.

“Whatever the event, we always start with a blank piece of paper. We treat every event as one of a kind, and really spend time listening to the client or host to understand what they want to achieve and convey with their party - what story they want to tell. We then create the party and menu around their narrative” explains Joanna.

“It’s not just the menu, although of course that's always at the centre of everything - it’s how it is served, what kind of canapé platters we use, what drinks will be served, whether the guests will be asked to interact and become part of the food and drink story, and how the staff will be styled, or costumed. It’s no accident that our mantra is ‘Food, Performance, Passion’ - performance is at the heart of everything we do.”

Zafferano was originally founded as an Italian food specialist caterer in 1992; 18 years on they now deliver a wide range of different food styles whilst still retaining their Italian name (Zafferano means saffron in Italian). Still now, their food is their benchmark; they use exceptional produce – seasonal, local, sustainable and packed with flavour – and their super talented chefs transform it with skill and dexterity into food wizardry. From dazzling canapés, tantalising small plates, exquisite fine-dining and theatrical food stations, to brain-food for conferences and wow factor wedding fare, their menus are designed to fit the brief, brimming with the spirit of performance, and it’s safe to say that it has been an action-packed 12 months for Joanna and her team…

“We’ve done some fabulous events this year, no-two being the same - ranging from edgy brand reinventions with male models in bellboy costumes, hot pants and stilettos to exquisite weddings, and even a sleepover event at the Natural History Museum. The dinosaurs really did come to life after the museum closed!” Joanna beams

“At the very end of December last year we catered the first night party of the theatre phenomenon Hamilton which was epic! 1500 A-listers tucking into a hybrid Thanksgiving-meets-Christmas supper, or baskets of buttermilk fried chicken followed by specially created Hamilton-inspired desserts. It was completely unforgettable” she adds. 

"And it was a huge honour to feed both TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex in the summer, and in the autumn, TRH Duke & Duchess of Cambridge. We also had lots of fun creating events to complement specific exhibitions including some show stopping Frieda Kahlo  events at the V&A and a Neo-Roman banquet in the Guildhall's new Amphitheatre space, complete with a real-life Roman Gladiator handing out canapés!”

Phew! And after all that, what Joanna really needs to do is put her feet up and kick back before the many events of 2019 kick off, but of course ‘tis the season of entertaining, and there is little time to relax. Whether you’re hosting a Christmas cocktail party, a spectacular NYE feast, or a smaller shindig in-between, you want the food to be a talking point and, lucky for us, Joanna has divulged her top tips and expert advice on what to serve and how to serve it this season, in truly imaginative, unforgettable Zafferano-style.

“Obviously when we’re doing a party for 400 at the V&A we have a whole chef team each dedicated to a small intricate element of a final dish” Joanna explains.  

“If I’m entertaining at home – whilst there are certain expectations on me as a caterer – I don’t want to be tied to the kitchen, so I want to make the food and drink as impressive, but as easy as possible – with as much as possible pre-prepared before the first guest even sets foot through the door.”

So, with that in mind, here is Joanna’s mouth-watering wisdom for entertaining in truly delicious and fabulously theatrical style this New Year.




Don’t spend hours in the kitchen hand-crafting fiddly canapes - ask your guests to do the work for you! Clear a large table and position it so that guests can attack it from all angles, then set up 3 or 4 DIY canapé stations and let guests dig in! Try:

  • Roast a topside of beef nice and rare and serve on a board (room temperature is fine) in skinny slithers, with a clump of peppery watercress, a bowl of horseradish spiked crème fraiche and a pile of little Yorkshire puds for guests to fill, build and devour. Pre-make perfect canapé size Yorkies using a mini muffin tin, or really cheat by buying ready-made frozen ones and whacking through the oven to take the edge off! Smoked salmon also works surprising well with mini yorkies.

  • Make a tangy Coronation chicken (or turkey with frozen leftovers) and serve from a large platter with a side of good quality mango chutney, a bunch of coriander and a dish of flaked almonds, for guests to pile onto mini poppadum crisps.

Beef Wellington Skewer With Guiness Reduction Zafferano

Beetroot Blood Orange And Pistachio Nuget Betroot Powder


For an impressive centrepiece, most major supermarkets are selling whole legs of cured Parma or Iberico ham (and some include a stand) at reasonable prices in their Christmas selections. Make this the hero of your buffet table with a selection of olives (pimp up supermarket ones with slithers of garlic, fresh rosemary, lemon slices and a splash of good quality extra virgin olive oil), smoked paprika almonds, Manchego cheese, quince jelly and fabulous breads. All bought in – no cooking required, but undeniably chic!

MS Serrano Ham Joint

MS Serrano Ham Joint With Knife Adn Stand

Marks & Spencer Whole Iberico Leg with knife and stand £350, Serrano Ham Joint with Knife & Stand £40. Brindisa Monroyo Serrano Ham kit, with wooden ham stand, carving knife and ham carving DVD £165. 



For dessert, bake a mountain of mini meringues (or buy good ones that are still moist and chewy on the inside) and spritz with a little edible gold spray for extra Christmas or New Year’s Eve bling. Serve with a big bowl of Champagne whipped cream and a mound of fresh berries! Or, make a cheat’s version of a Mont Blanc by using a couple of jars of sweetened chestnut puree. Fill a cup with chocolate flakes – like a pencil pot - for guests to crumble over the top or invest in some of Heston’s popping chocolate candy to add a certain frisson to the proceedings!

 Dessert StationZafferano Dessert Bites

Waitrose Toppings

Heston from Waitrose popping candy £3.15, Waitrose Cooks' Homebaking gold stardust £1.85. Both. 



Jam jar cocktails are so Shoreditch 2010, BUT the jars themselves make mini lidded cocktail shakers so if you can bear to be ironically retro they serve a purpose.

To each jam jar add; 25ml of gin, 10ml Quince liqueur (Bramley & Gage have a good one), 1 teaspoon of bramble jam. Encourage guests to add a cube or 2 of ice, screw on the lid and shake. Then top up with fiery ginger beer and garnish with a blackberry, mint and a squeeze of lime and a couple of straws!

Alternatively take inspiration from Mark Hix’s Hix Fix  and simply add a Brandy soaked cherry with a teaspoon of the brandy liquor to the bottom of a champagne glass (preferably saucer) and top up with ice cold fizz.

If you can afford it – splash the cash and book a professional mixologist, like Mix and Muddle – it will immediately take the strain from the hosts and make your party stand out as something rather fabulous. However, be warned. Once you’ve done it once, guests will expect a mixologist every year!

Mix N Muddle

Mix N Muddle Cocktails

For more information about Mix and Muddle head to their page in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book.


Show the same TLC to drivers and non-drinkers with an interesting mix of mocktails. A mocktail mule with ginger beer, lime and mint does the job as does a combo of cloudy apple juice, elderflower cordial topped up with ginger ale and garnished with mint. Or push the boat out and buy Seedlip – a non-alcoholic ‘spirit’ which you prepare in the same way as a G&T and tastes super grown up.

Seedlip Cocktail

From £14.99 for 20cl (£27.99 for 70cl) www.seedlipdrinks.com



Keep lighting nice and low and add strings and strings of fairy lights or festoon lights (cheaply picked up from lights4fun.co.uk) to add a glittery twinkle to proceedings. 

Start saving empty jam jars or clear wine bottles for DIY candle votives and candelabras. Dot night lights in jam jars on every available surface and position a snakey row of wine bottles with different colour clashing candles along the centre of your dining table or mantelpiece (out of harm’s way!)

Remember scent is hugely important so invest in a good quality room diffuser or spray and give everywhere a good spritz just before guests arrive. Pomegranate Noir from Jo Malone is a classic for this time of year.

Add a top playlist, a plentiful bar and somewhere to hang coats and you’re laughing!

 Warm Micro Lights Pomegranate Noir From Jo Malone

Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir Candles from £47 for 200g, Room Spray £46.00 for 175ml, Reed Diffuser £62.00 for 165ml. All lights from Lights4Fun. Prices start at £6.99 (images named and priced individually).



Finally, when planning your menu there are basically three top trends at the moment which all lead to the same path - nurturing, comforting and making everything seem better! 

  • Nostalgic comfort food is definitely a trend at the moment, particularly at this time of year when you crave pies over poké! Our most popular party canapes this season have been Three bird sausage rolls with cranberry ketchup, Beef wellington skewers with shot of Guinness reduction, Wild venison scotch eggs with damson jam and the Zafferano classic - Black truffle and Roquefort croque monsieurs.

  • Plant-led plates are still massive and aren't going anywhere - we are seeing veganism on the rise and are having to be really creative to ensure we deliver maximum flavour whilst still working within the boundaries. Lots of our clients are now making conscious decisions to move away from meat and choosing sustainable fish or vegetarian dishes instead. We're particularly proud of our new ‘Plant Led Plates’ section in our new 2019 spring/summer dinner menus, celebrating the best in seasonal British vegetables and fruits. Particular favourites are Shaved raw spring vegetables with lemon thyme savoury shortbread, flowers, shoots, and truffled pecorino, and Grilled asparagus with soft parmesan polenta, kale, barbequed corn and summer chanterelles.

  • Playful - this is the raison d'etre of everything we do at Zafferano. Parties are luxurious, frivolous, and pleasurable - we don't want to be too serious, we want our food to delight, engage and make people smile. We are at our best when we are being playful, and this definitely comes across in our menus – particularly pudding. We have a new section in our dessert canapé menus called ‘Zafferano’s Tuck Shop Favourites’ where we’ve reinvented some classic retro sweets and chocolates to give them a gourmet make-over, like Zaffa Cake -chocolate orange tea cake, Golden cherry marshmallow ‘Tunnock’s Tea Cake’, Tonka bean and hazelnut ‘Ferrero Rocher’ and the awesome Dark chocolate and salted caramel ‘Zolos’.

    Another playful dessert is from our autumn/winter dinner menusCereal milk panna cotta, frozen pineapple, Rice Crispies and pineapple Jammy Dodger. It was created by our pastry chef to replicate the delight he had as a child when the Coco Pops had all been eaten and he could drink the chocolatey milk straight from the bowl! This dessert instantly transports you to being 10 years old and sat in your superhero PJs!

If you’d like to work with the incredible Zafferano on your next event you can find their page in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book. 


Posted in Inspire Me

by Inspire Me
on on 27 December 2018

  catering, event catering, event planning, party planning

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