Buffet service is very common in events with large numbers of attendees. Guests pass through a buffet line that features food choices on tables separate from the seating area. Guests serve themselves, which allows for convenience in choosing what an individual wants to eat. They then return to their table to eat. Beverages are typically delivered and refilled by attendants.
Finger food and appetizers are presented in a buffet-style arrangement where guests can serve themselves. These are generally gatherings where people mill around the room while eating and chatting.
3. Food Stations
Food stations, or action stations as they're sometimes called, include a variety of courses and offerings to guests. Many times these stations are manned by chefs who are cooking or preparing food in front of guests. Popular choices for these stations include meat carving, pasta bars, sushi stations, and desserts.
Cafeteria-style banquet service is very similar to a buffet, where guests stand in line to choose their food. However, in cafeteria service, workers or servers dish food from the buffet line. This helps control costs since workers have control over portion sizes
In this service, guests are seated and servers bring food already portioned onto plates directly from the kitchen. This is the most efficient type of banquet service and also the least expensive. You'll frequently see this style at formal events such as weddings, where guests have been asked their choice of protein (beef or chicken, for example) and plates are assembled and sorted by those requests.
Common internationally, family-style service features seated guests with large quantities of food in plates or bowls brought from the kitchen and placed at the table. Guests serve themselves and pass the food around the table.
If you show up at an event and the food is already on the table, you've experienced a pre-set service. This is frequently seen with items such as bread rolls, desserts, salads, and beverages. Main entrees generally are brought out from the kitchen in this configuration.