Autumn Entertaining Trends

What to serve this autumn with top creative caterers Pickle Shack

With a new season upon us, Toast.Life chats to leading creative caterers Pickle Shack to get their top tips and advice on what to serve your hungry guests this autumn, from presentation tips and serving ideas, to which store cupboard essentials will get you through the colder months. Bon appétit!

Based in Exeter, Devon, Pickle Shack is a young and ambitious, creative catering company responsible for feeding foodies at weddings, corporate retreats and private parties, as well as at their very own pop-up restaurants across the South West. Influenced by the Michelin starred restaurants that their chefs trained at, Pickle Shack  mixes traditional, local ingredients with modern cooking techniques, giving their dishes a distinctive and unique flair. Their style of food is an irresistible melting-pot of classical and modern gastronomy, and ‘bespoke’ is their mantra, meaning that every dish they create is unique, designed specifically for the event it will be devoured at.

“Our chefs are gastronomic nerds, so they are always on the lookout for new techniques and wild ideas!” explains Pickle Shack’s Rose Harvey.

“We host ‘Test Kitchen’ pop up events every quarter for them to put into practice the ideas they are dying to trial. These dishes and techniques then filter down into the menus for the year ahead. Our network of West Country suppliers has also proven an endless source of inspiration within the Pickle Shack kitchen – if there’s a new supplier in town, or someone pioneering something extra special, we love to get out and meet them” 

From day one, Pickle Shack has been committed to local sourcing, and this has led them to forge relationships with a host of brilliant businesses and communities across the South West who are growing, nurturing and creating stunning ingredients. Aside from a few store cupboard essentials (more on this below…!), Pickle Shack use as much as they possibly can from these suppliers; this includes meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and wonderfully wild ingredients that can be foraged from the local hedgerows and fields. If it’s not in season, it’s not on the menu. Unless it’s pickled, of course!

No Pickle Shack dish is complete without the addition of an acidic element for a blissful balance of flavours” enthuses Rose “We preserve seasonal produce all throughout the year to capture the best, punchiest flavours to bring to the plate.  We never shy away from bold flavour combos!”

And now, with the whole new season of delicious entertaining that lies ahead, we get Pickle Shack’s top tips and expert advice on how to entertain like a pro this winter – from presentation tips and serving ideas, to which store cupboard essentials will get you through the colder months. And as if that wasn’t enough – they’ve also shared their mouthwatering recipe for their completely beautiful Dark Chocolate Tart with Raspberries, Sea Salt and Edible Flowers with us (you can find it over on The Edit now) - a wonderfully indulgent sweet treat for autumn and definitely one to impress your guests with.

Autumn is the perfect time to entertain! Cooler, darker evenings bring with them an appetite for something more indulgent. The vibrant colours of summer evolve into exciting purples, deeper greens and earthy tones, making it a great time to relinquish the BBQ tongs and get familiar with the oven and hob again!”




The shift from summer to autumn brings a wealth of gorgeous produce! We’re talking rich, deep colours and flavours, perfect for an indulgent menu. Plums, blackberries, and sloes come into season and root vegetables such as celeriacs and parsnips are at their best. The kitchen is flooded with chestnuts and cob nuts, endives, kales such as cavolo nero, red cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, and, seafoods such as oysters and cockles are at their prime during the Autumn! Game season also begins, so meats like pheasant and venison are ready to hit the plate

 Black Crockery Pickle Shack Image Matt Austin

Pickleshack Main Dish Image By Matt Austin


For event catering to make an impact it needs to work with the overall vibe of the event. Therefore, the service style should reflect this rather than what might be on trend. A super elegant wedding might best suit a beautifully plated, three course, sit down meal, while a business or product launch might be better suited to a flow of canapés or ‘bowl food’ to maximise mingling and networking, and private dining for a family birthday might be all about guests digging into sharing platters while they chatter and celebrate. It’s important not to be too influenced by what is ‘in’ at the moment, as this might not work for your event or might be repetitive for the guests attending.

Matt Austin Food




One simple way to make your presentation pop is by making the most of colour. For deep colours like green veg and gamey meats opt for pale crockery or wooden sharing platters. For lighter colours like celeriac or oysters, find a black plate or bowl. Present the key ingredients individually plated to show off your food artistry, and serve your side dishes separately for guests to dig into.

Wooden Sharing Platters Pickle Shack

Wooden Sharingplatters Pickleshack Imagery Matt Austin 


The resurgence of gin has been a pleasure, but at Pickle Shack we have a feeling that rum is next in line for the spirit throne! Several South West producers have begun making names for themselves producing this traditionally international spirit. We highly recommend checking out Barti Ddu Pembrokeshire Rum, Dead Man’s Fingers Cornish Rum and Lugger Rum from Lyme Bay in Devon.

Pick Shack Cocktails Image Matt Austin

Barti Ddu £28 for 70cl purchase it here www.bartirum.wales , Dead Man’s Fingers £22.95 for 70cl www.deadmansfingers.com Lugger Rum from Lyme Bay £38.50 for 70cl www.lymebaywinery.co.uk



‘Whole to the table’ is the latest sharing style movement! Whole table terrines, roulades, cuts of meats, tarts, that sort of thing. The look achieved is impressive, enticing, and ultimately more generous as guests have the freedom to slice themselves a little extra!



It depends on the event and the menu - you could have a menu that begins with a sharing style starter of cured meats, baked camembert, pickled seasonal vegetables, fresh baked bread and flavoured butters and follow it with a part-plated main course, with the key elements presented on individual plates, with sumptuous sides in sharing bowls for guests to help themselves, followed by an individually plated dreamy dessert. Combining these service styles is as much a winner as choosing one or the other. Our chefs will always help to guide clients to the option that will work best for their brief!

 Pickleshack Black Trays Imagery Matt Austin

Pickleshack Kitchen


To keep things interesting when entertaining at home, don’t be shy! Try new techniques, new ingredients, new flavour combos. Read modern cookery books or visit a local farm shop to discover new, local suppliers and products for inspiration. If you love ingredients that are only available at certain times of the year, such as plums, try preserving some whilst the season is high. This gives scope to play with flavours by infusing the fruit, or veg, or nuts with herbs and spices so that when they are ready to eat they bring something unique to your dish!

 Pickleshack Desserts Image By Matt AustinPickleshack Canepes


We always have chocolate, coffee, spices and the odd lemon. Also sea salt, cacao, cooking wine, local rapeseed oil, local butter and local honey are all important staples. For your adventurous side, add sumac to your spice cupboard and try making a homemade vinegar such as blackberry to have on hand too!

 Pickleshack Favours Imagery Matt Austin


Planning and prepping is the key! Make sure any ingredients you choose will be available in the season and consider as far in advance the quantities you will need. How long will each dish take to create? If all your dishes or courses are prep heavy, you might want to make some of them simpler to avoid stress when it’s time to get cooking. The same goes for plating up – 10 element dishes might look fantastic, but food will spoil the longer it’s in the kitchen being perfectly plated and not in front of the guest being devoured!

If you’d like to work with Pickle Shack on your autumn menu or if you're planning a party or event, then check out their page in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book

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