Gaylord Opryland hotel updates buffet format

The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville made an investment recently to change its buffet format in a big way.

A year in development, now all buffet lines feature residential-style pots, gramophone centerpieces that play music based on the mood of the event and weathered wood tables. In other words, a very Nashville look.

“We do composed dishes on the buffets, there are no linens or chafing dishes — it’s a residential style that is what you might call ‘Nashville homey,’” said Michael Hiltabidel, director of event planning and catering at the property.

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The concept includes layered dishes in a pot with a residential style lid and a lid holder. Then the pot sits on a grill, and the traditional Sterno can is under the grill. Individual servings of traditional hot chicken are served in Tennessee-made cast iron skillets.

“We wanted to make the look that reminds you of grandma's kitchen, but still an upscale elegance, a vintage touch,” Hiltabidel said.

Instead of typical 6-foot tables lined up in a row, the Gaylord uses seven tables of differing heights, from 24 inches to 48 inches.

“The feedback has been phenomenal, we have more people taking pictures of our food than ever before,” he said.  “We get comments on the gramophones and the music.”

While there is no linen work involved with the new buffet look, the tables require a next level of care and handling, Hiltabidel said. “They are a little heavier, and it has implications on the setup team. A cart with a buffet on it can move 6 miles throughout the back of house on any given day.”

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