When it comes to the things that can make or break an event, few are as important as the quality, flavor and appearance of the food and beverages you help. A whole lot is riding on for you to decide of which caterer to employ, and if you believe this decision really isn’t that important, consider it this way … amazing catering can save a meeting that’s on the stones, but bad catering will more often than not send friends to the doors (or, in your problem scenario, to the restrooms).
Furthermore, because catering is often the #1 or #2 line-item cost for some events, the caterer you select is also a substantial budgetary decision and can influence how much cash you have gone over to devote to the areas depending on food costs and quantities.
Add in the actual fact that caterers may differ considerably in their costing and the types of meals and services they provide, and the procedure of choosing the caterer can figuratively and literally feel just like you are looking at apples to oranges (pun fully intended).
So we talked to a dozen veteran caterers and event organizers about the standards they recommend in selecting a caterer. And predicated on their advice…
Here are the 10 top standards event you should consider when finding a caterer.
#1 – Responsiveness and Personal Curiosity about Your Needs
Of all event and catering professionals we spoke with, this came up over and over and once more, due to the fact how responsive and interested a Corporate Caters Tampa is throughout your initial discussions is indicative of how they’ll perform through the amount of their deal with you (and even more on agreements later).
“Many caterers will promise to really have the best-tasting food made out of the freshest ingredients at the most competitive price, but this is a rare quality for one to be both quick to come back calls and emails and available to critiques and new ideas,” says Cheryl Lynn Foster-Gerton, an event designer and owner of AN IMPORTANT Event in Denver. “While these may seem to be like slightly insignificant factors in comparison to overall taste and cost, they actually imply that the caterer is actually concerned with reaching the customers’ needs and making certain they can be pleased with both product and the service.”
A potential caterer should be learning just as much as they can about you in your first few discussions with them, which means you should expect these to be talking and asking questions about 20% of that time period so you providing answers and outlining your requirements about 80% of the time. “In case the caterer is not requesting questions about the function they could see you as simply ‘the next client’,” says Lyndsey Bunn, Catering and Discussion Services Manager at Sterling silver Legacy Resort Gambling house . “They should be considering studying your event. They must be asking about your theme, the reason, budget and goals.”
#2 – Capability to Handle Your Specific Kind of Event
Don’t assume all caterer is ideal or every type of event, and many caterers themselves openly admit this.
So when interviewing your caterers (and you ought to consult with at a minimum of 3 caterers for any event with an acceptable budget), you should be specific about the sort of event you are planning and the kind of food and/or display you expect. Otherwise, you may end up choosing the caterer who simply isn’t a good fit for the sort or design of your event.
“You must choose the caterer that works to the specific function, not simply because you’ve used them recently for a corporation meeting or worker holiday get together.”
#3 – Versatility Regarding Menu Options
Almost every caterer has a standard menu or menus to choose from, and many do provide some degree of built-in overall flexibility to adapt these menus to your unique needs by substituting specific items and/or customizing others. Any caterer who has been in the industry and knows what they are doing should have a few different menu options that are constantly being kept up to date and changing to maintain with current developments.
However, the standout caterers will exceed standardized menu options and become willing to set-up amazing fare that complements even more specific theme and diet needs.
“If a caterer isn’t willing to adapt its menu or challenge its staff to utilize and celebrate your custom theme, that’s a red flag,” says Christine Courtney-Myers of the C3 Agency . “We revise menu proposals and be present at tastings to finalize each dish’s flavors and perfect the portions and display to go with or amplify our event design and our client’s theme.”
A perfect caterer also needs to be willing to take care of (or at a minimum of consider) special requests. “Ask the caterer if they are willing to add a family formula you provide,” says Lyndsey Bunn. “Or will they use items of special relevance to the style or theme of your event? Or can they make vegetarian, vegan, kosher, or children’s, dishes for your friends?”
Many of these are important questions to ask upfront to observe how far each caterer you interview is able and willing to support you.
#4 – Determination to supply Tastings
How do you want to ever really know what a caterer can do if you don’t test their goods? Plus more specifically, how will you know what the menu items you are considering will flavour like if you don’t specifically try them?
Some people shy away from asking to test the precise items they want because of their event because it seems like a hassle for the caterer, but it is standard to ask for a sampling of what you are intending to order before you to remain the dotted range.
“Attend at least 3 tastings with isolate caterers and ensure you can flavor what you want,” recommends Danielle Rothweiler of Rothweiler Event Design . “Never settle for a caterer that will just give you a general sample; you will need to really know what the meals on your menu will flavour like. Anticipate to purchase these tastings if possible.”
In addition, you can request wine parings for these tastings if they’re befitting your event (again, be prepared to pay a payment … it’s a tiny price to pay to make sure you choose the best caterer). So when you are sampling the food, also attend to how it is presented, as any caterer who takes enough time to properly display a sample is going to be more likely to make that kind of work on your event day.
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#5 – KNOWLEDGE OF the Venue
You may be set for a surprise if you hire a BBQ take-out joint to cater a formal ballroom fundraiser. Or if you choose a high-end commercial event caterer to serve a barn wedding. Why? Because these caterers may well not be accustomed to preparing and serving food in such a setting.
This may get even more specific depending on restrictions of the venue itself, like regarding museums and historical sites. “You intend to be sure you select a caterer who spent some time working at that place before and knows all the rules that are typical of sites like this,” says Teresa Davenport, Associate Director of Development and Communications at Morven Area, a historical site in Northern Virginia. “For instance, no red wine or live blooms are allowed within our ancient house museum.”
Even more traditional venues can also have restrictions that caterers must follow – like certain setup standards or disposal restrictions for waste food and water – so developing a caterer that knows a venue’s guidelines can potentially save quite a lot of hassle on event day.
#6 – Complete Description of Services/Goods Promised in the Contract
The caterer’s contract should plainly spell out precisely what food, beverages and services the caterer will be providing on the selected day(s). Moreover, it will protect you from non-performance around it protects the caterer from non-payment/default, so you might want to consider having an lawyer consider it before you indication it.
Every fine detail should be contained in the deal, included selected selections, number of portions and/or visitors to be served, drink/bar service details (if applicable) and everything pricing and extra services.
#7 – A Well-Defined Cancellation Plan
No caterer with a shred of dignity and scruples enters into a agreement with ideas to bail at the last second, nevertheless, you need to make certain there’s a cancellation clause in your deal in the event your caterer must cancel.
You don’t desire to be left without recourse with only times or hours before your event, so just make sure cancellation procedures and penalties are set up and that means you do have a backup plan.
#8 – References YOU MAY Call and SPEAK TO
Of course you will need to check on through to the caterers you are thinking about, and it’s always good to get started on online and check out sites like Yelp, Wedding Wire and Angie’s List for their reviews and ratings.
However, don’t stop there, as online reviews aren’t always reliable (or even authentic); for example, a good caterer may experienced a few problem/hater clients who skew their ratings, while a mediocre caterer may have cushioned their online reviews.
#9 – Insurance
Every caterer we talked to called insurance plan “confirmed” for caterers, and you don’t want to legally be on the hook for a few oversight or accident that was the fault of your caterer.
#10 – An Experienced Chef and Kitchen Staff
Surprisingly, how long a catering company has been around business might not exactly be as critical in choosing the great caterer as it may seem.
So make sure you ask about the chef’s bona fides and CV because he/she is going to be the main one most accountable for the results of the meal and whether your friends appreciate it or not.
And when have you any idea you have picked the right caterer? As Christine Courtney-Myers succinctly puts it, “Whenever a caterer is ready and in a position to elegantly and expertly shock and pleasure your guests by providing beautiful, yummy and ambitious food with great service that compliments your event theme, you have nailed the catering facet of your event.