From Sea to Plate - Diving Into Feast of the Seven Fishes

Posted December 11, 2023 by Jon Bowerman

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Rooted in Italian-American traditions, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a culinary celebration that happens on Christmas Eve. Characterized by the servings of seafood, this festive get-together is a unique holiday celebration that makes for a perfect group event in a restaurant or hospitality venue.

Central to the feast are the seven fish dishes, each with cultural and symbolic importance. Deeply rooted in Italian culinary traditions and religious symbolism, it was first celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus while fasting from meat and animal fat. 

Preparing for the Feast 

Not just a simple meal, Feast of the Seven Fishes requires meticulous planning. Early prepping and planning can help staff provide customers with an enjoyable holiday experience. Having the freshest seafood options is also important, so place orders early and have them delivered close to December 24. 

Planning out the order of the items served is important. No one wants something heavy for the first course because there’s so much more food to come. Think of keeping it light and snacky. Then work in a salad, a few hardier items, a seafood and pasta dish, and a soup or stew. 

And don’t forget the atmosphere of the room. Decorate with festive lights, LED candles, and Christmas ornaments. Feast of Seven Fishes is traditionally served family-style, so be sure to have appropriate dinnerware and tableware to set the stage for warmth, joy, and plenty of eating. But for quicker service, consider serving the meal buffet style for larger groups, weddings, and Christmas parties. 

[Additional Resources: Check out our front-of-house resource page to learn how P3 Reps can help you with your event and special occasion needs.]


Traditional Dishes vs. Modern Twists 

Some of the traditional dishes for the feast have their roots in Southern Italy. Courses such as baccalà (salted cod), fried calamari, octopus salad, and linguine with seafood often appear. While preserving tradition is a part of the Feast, having modern interpretations can help set your foodservice business apart. 

Consider including dishes such as parmesan stuffed scallops, lobster pot pie, fish that isn’t traditional to the meal, or crab cakes. Restaurants close to bodies of water should try incorporating local options and purchasing from local fishermen. There are even plant-based seafood alternatives available that cater to customers who follow a vegan diet. 

Additions to Feast of the Seven Fishes

While seafood is the main focus during this occasion, restaurants, hotels, and hospitality venues would be remiss in ignoring other aspects of the meal that can help increase sales.

Having a varied wine list available will help make the meal more festive. Many types of wines pair well with seafood; be sure to match up the ones that work with the menu, along with the correct stemware for each wine served. 

And don’t forget the dessert. Of course, it won’t have seafood in it. But think about offering scoops of gelato, delicate cookies, cake, or cannolis, along with coffee and tea to help round out the meal. 

It's easy to request samples of our tabletop and dinnerware brands to see what fits best for your restaurant:

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