Regardless of the event you are preparing for, choosing a good caterer is important. But what do you consider when looking for a catering service, and how do you make comparisons among caterers?
If you have little experience with caterers, you should start from scratch. Ask people around you for referrals, and read online reviews about local caterers (just make sure to stick to reputable consumer websites where reviews are generally authentic). The management at your event venue may also give some names of caterers that are worth recommending.
Before you choose a caterer, make sure you visit their kitchen. Certainly, the environment must be clean, fresh-smelling, and overall professional. Anything short of that and you have a catering staff that has no genuine pride or interest in what they do – and one that you’re better off avoiding.
Because there is a whole variety of catering services out there, you need to pick the one that best fits your needs and requirements. Talk to your prospective caterer about menu ideas, and be sure to mention any dietary restrictions to be observed (for example, a guest or guests having food allergies). You deserve to enjoy the event instead of being anxious about your guests.
If you’re uncertain as to how many people you will need, below is a cheat sheet:
Buffet – two servers/thirty guests For a big group, be ready with two or three extra runners for clearing dishes and restocking chafing options.
Sit-Down Meal – one server for every eight guests, plus extra servers to handle drinks
Bar Staff – one bartender and one bar-back for a set of fifty guests You’ll need more bartenders if you plan to set up specialty drink stations.
Keep in mind that to ensure a smooth flow of services during the event, you will need a captain of service for each group of six staff members.
You have the option to simply provide an outline of your desired menu and then give the caterer full control. Still, the caterer should be willing to work closely with you at every stage of the event.
As you may know, this is yet another crucial part of picking a good caterer. Whether you or the caterer created the menu, they need to seek your final approval, but only after you have sampled each item on it prior to the actual event.
Be specific regarding your budget and that the quote you are given already covers the caterer’s full service, from set up to pack up and all staffing issues. Finally, quiz the caterer on any possible secret fees or extra costs before you sign the contract.