Believe it or not, many people only go to events because of the food. Additionally, many people only remember events BECAUSE of the food. If you’re hosting a party, wedding, fundraiser, or any event with a large scale of people, hiring a great catering team is a must. Looking for a caterer can be tough, but not as tough as you think if you follow these easy steps. Food brings people together after all, why not make the best of your event?
The first step is to narrow the field by filtering out options who are unavailable the day of your event or have bad reviews. For the most part, this should be a no brainer but narrowing down your selection to a few vendors actually saves a ton of time. If you’ve never hired a caterer before, you’ll have to start from scratch. This may seem overwhelming at first, but the best place to start would be friends, family, and business associates. From there, it’s great to check out your recommendations’ reviews online and weed out the weaker ones. If you’re hosting an event at a venue, be sure to ask the management which caterers have been hired there in the past and whether or not they were good to work with. Next, you’ll want to see the caterers in action by visiting the premises. You’ll need to make an appointment obviously, but this is one of the most important points in your decision. You should check for cleanliness and gauge the professionalism of the staff. It is super important the caterers are clean and professional. A chaotic, dirty kitchen is a warning signal and will likely result in poor service.
Now onto the food! The third step is the fun part- reviewing the menu. Consider the menu options and review the chef’s specialties. Not all menus are appropriate for all events, so you’ll want to match the service to your needs. For example, asking a traditionally homestyle American caterer to provide a Chinese buffet may be an issue. Reviewing the menu ideas with the caterer will allow you to discuss which plates work best with the event you’re hosting. Additionally, be sure to check if they are accommodating towards guests’ dietary restrictions. Furthermore, before you sign any contracts, you will need to make sure the caterer you choose has the full staff needed to service your event on the day you choose. Each type of catering service requires a different number of staff members, so this is something you’ll need to discuss with the head caterer beforehand. There are three types of catering staff requirements- buffet, sit down dinner, and bar. Depending on the amount of guests, present the number of staff needed is subject to change.
Your caterer should listen to you closely and consider your input to be valuable. That being said, you’ll need to make sure your caterer is ready to work closely with you and take your suggestions into consideration. You may want to outline a menu you’re aiming for and then give the caterer the choice to do with it as they want. The caterer you pick should be able to provide you with a scheduled tasting so you can sample the menu and approve the dishes you like and disapprove those you don’t. This is another fun part but also very important. You’ll want to have final approval over the muni and the caterer must be willing to sample their work before you do so. If they are unwilling to offer you a tasting, go back to the drawing board. Lastly, the cost of service is obviously a major concern and will probably serve as a deciding factor in who you choose to work with. Be clear about your price range, and make sure to quiz the caterer on any potential hidden fees. Be sure to get a price estimate that covers the full cost including set up, break down, and staffing.