Whether it’s a wedding, a class reunion, a corporate meeting or any kind of event, picking a good caterer is crucial. But how can you find a good catering service, and how do you compare your options?
If you’re not that experienced when it comes to catering services, you’ll have to start from scratch. Ask friends, relatives and coworkers for referrals, and read some online reviews too (stick to trusted consumer sites for credibility). You can also ask the management at your event venue if they can recommend caterers whom they have worked with in the past.
Before you choose a caterer, make sure you visit their kitchen. Certainly, the environment must be clean, fresh-smelling, and overall professional. Otherwise, you have a catering staff that takes no real pride or interest in their job – and one you ought to avoid.
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 uncertain as to how many people you will need, below is a cheat sheet:
Buffet – around two waiters per thirty guests For a bigger party, there should be two or three additional runners to restock chafing stations and clear dishes.
Sit-Down Meal – one server for every eight guests, plus extra servers to handle drinks
Bar Staff – one bartender and one bar-back for each 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 only want to outline a menu and let the caterer decide on everything else, as long as he produces the results you want. 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 clear about how much you are willing to spend for catering, and ensure that the quote already covers the caterer’s full service, such as set up, break down, and all concerns about staffing. Finally, quiz the caterer on any possible secret fees or extra costs before you sign the contract.