Regardless of the event you are preparing for, choosing a good caterer is important. But how can you find a good catering service, and how do you compare your options?
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 picking a catering service, make it a point to 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.
There are various types of caterers, which only means that not all of them are good for you. Discuss any menu ideas you may have with the caterer, and make sure to mention any special considerations to be made, such as some guests being allergic to certain foods. You just want to enjoy your event instead of worrying about guests.
If you’re unsure about the number of people you will need for the event, check out the cheat sheet below:
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 Dinner – one server per table of eight, plus servers for the drinks
Bar Staff – one bartender/one bar-back per fifty guests You may need more bartenders too if you plan to serve specialty drinks.
Take note that you should have a captain of service for every six staff members to make sure everything goes smoothly.
You may just want to provide a menu outline and give the caterer the free rein to deliver good results. Still, you have to work closely with your chosen caterer throughout the event.
This is another crucial part of selecting a good caterer. You have to approve the menu and actually taste what’s on it before 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.