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  • Writer's picturePat Fermin

Tips on Choosing the Right Catering Company!!

Few things are as important as the quality, flavor and appearance of the food and beverages you serve, when it comes to what can make or break your event. There is a lot to consider when it comes to choosing which caterer to hire. Let’s put it this way… an amazing catering company can rescue an event that’s shaky, but bad catering will almost always send guests to the doors (or, in your nightmare scenario, to the restrooms). Finding the right caterer can be a very stressful and daunting task.


1. Responsiveness and interest in your needs A potential caterer should, in the first few minutes of your conversation, show a lot of interest in your needs. They should be asking you a lot of questions in order to gather as much information as possible from you. Questions like your theme, type of service, vision and budget. A potential caterer should also be able to answer your calls or emails in a timely manner and be open to suggestions or critiques. This shows that the potential caterer is really concerned in meeting the client’s needs and that both service and food is up to par.


2. Ability to handle your type of event Not all caterers are fit for every single event. Where all do a wide range of event, some of us specialize in some specific markets more than others. So it is ok to ask the caterer if they have the right type of experience for you. Some caterers are more “boutique” style so they specialize in smaller intimate-type events. Others specialize in larger corporate and non-profit events. So when interviewing a caterer, you need to make sure they are the perfect fit for your specific event, your theme and the type of function.


3. Flexibility in regards to menu options Every caterer has a standard menu or menus to choose from, and many do provide some level of built-in flexibility to adapt these menus to your specific needs. However, the standout caterers will go beyond standardized menu options and be willing to create amazing fare that matches even more specific theme and dietary needs. If a caterer isn’t willing to adapt its menu that’s a red flag.



4. Provides food sample tasting How will you know what the caterer can deliver if you haven’t sampled his work yet? More so, how can you determine how the food you are considering will look like and taste like unless you try them? Contrary to what most people may think, it is never a hassle for the caterer to provide you with a tasting. It is actually customary to do so. Just be ready to pay for these tastings if necessary.


5. Knowledge of venue Knowledge of the venue is one of the key elements to consider when hiring a caterer. You don’t want to hire Hiring a BBQ take-out joint to cater a formal ballroom fundraiser. Or choose a high-end corporate event caterer to serve a barn wedding. And also depending on restrictions of the venue itself, like in the case of museums and historical sites. You want to be sure you choose a caterer who has worked at that venue before and knows all the rules that are typical of sites like this.


6. Thorough explanation of service/goods promised in contract In the caterer’s contract, you should be able to see clearly exactly what the caterer will be providing on the designated day(s) such as food, beverage and service. Moreover, it should protect you from non-performance as much as it protects the caterer from non-payment/default. Every detail should be included in the contract: selected menus, number of servings and/or people to be served, beverage/bar service details (if applicable) and all pricing and additional services.


7. Cancellation policies No serious caterer enters into a contract with predetermined plans to bail at the last minute. Nevertheless, you need to make sure there is a cancellation clause in your contract. Find out how they handle cancellations and make sure it’s included in the contract. You should research if your deposit is fully refundable and what to do next.


8. References At Few things are as important as the quality, flavor and appearance of the food and beverages you serve, when it comes to what can make or break your event. There is a lot to consider when it comes to choosing which caterer to hire. Let’s put it this way… an amazing catering company can rescue an event that’s shaky, but bad catering will almost always send guests to the doors (or, in your nightmare scenario, to the restrooms). Finding the right caterer can be a very stressful and daunting task.


1. Responsiveness and interest in your needs A potential caterer should, in the first few minutes of your conversation, show a lot of interest in your needs. They should be asking you a lot of questions in order to gather as much information as possible from you. Questions like your theme, type of service, vision and budget. A potential caterer should also be able to answer your calls or emails in a timely manner and be open to suggestions or critiques. This shows that the potential caterer is really concerned in meeting the client’s needs and that both service and food is up to par.


2. Ability to handle your type of event Not all caterers are fit for every single event. Where all do a wide range of event, some of us specialize in some specific markets more than others. So it is ok to ask the caterer if they have the right type of experience for you. Some caterers are more “boutique” style so they specialize in smaller intimate-type events. Others specialize in larger corporate and non-profit events. So when interviewing a caterer, you need to make sure they are the perfect fit for your specific event, your theme and the type of function.


3. Flexibility in regards to menu options Every caterer has a standard menu or menus to choose from, and many do provide some level of built-in flexibility to adapt these menus to your specific needs. However, the standout caterers will go beyond standardized menu options and be willing to create amazing fare that matches even more specific theme and dietary needs. If a caterer isn’t willing to adapt its menu that’s a red flag.



4. Provides food sample tasting How will you know what the caterer can deliver if you haven’t sampled his work yet? More so, how can you determine how the food you are considering will look like and taste like unless you try them? Contrary to what most people may think, it is never a hassle for the caterer to provide you with a tasting. It is actually customary to do so. Just be ready to pay for these tastings if necessary.


5. Knowledge of venue Knowledge of the venue is one of the key elements to consider when hiring a caterer. You don’t want to hire Hiring a BBQ take-out joint to cater a formal ballroom fundraiser. Or choose a high-end corporate event caterer to serve a barn wedding. And also depending on restrictions of the venue itself, like in the case of museums and historical sites. You want to be sure you choose a caterer who has worked at that venue before and knows all the rules that are typical of sites like this.


6. Thorough explanation of service/goods promised in contract In the caterer’s contract, you should be able to see clearly exactly what the caterer will be providing on the designated day(s) such as food, beverage and service. Moreover, it should protect you from non-performance as much as it protects the caterer from non-payment/default. Every detail should be included in the contract: selected menus, number of servings and/or people to be served, beverage/bar service details (if applicable) and all pricing and additional services.


7. Cancellation policies No serious caterer enters into a contract with predetermined plans to bail at the last minute. Nevertheless, you need to make sure there is a cancellation clause in your contract. Find out how they handle cancellations and make sure it’s included in the contract. You should research if your deposit is fully refundable and what to do next.


8. References At the end of the day, you will need to check up on the caterers you are considering. A good place to start is sites such as Yelp, Wedding Wire, The Knot for reviews and ratings. Online reviews though are not 100 percent reliable (or even authentic); a good caterer may have had a few nightmare/hater clients who skew their ratings, while a truly mediocre caterer may have padded their online reviews. If ever in doubt, try to reach out to some of those past clients and contact them directly.


9. Insurance A reputable catering company will always have liability insurance. It is a given. If they don’t, it is definitely a red flag. You don’t want to be carrying the legal burdens from the mishaps of your caterer.


1. A reputable/experiences chef and kitchen staff The number of years a catering has been in business may not always be the key thing to look at. Your chef and kitchen staff may have had more experience than that. Do not hesitate to ask for the chef’s credentials if you want to.

the end of the day, you will need to check up on the caterers you are considering. A good place to start is sites such as Yelp, Wedding Wire, The Knot for reviews and ratings. Online reviews though are not 100 percent reliable (or even authentic); a good caterer may have had a few nightmare/hater clients who skew their ratings, while a truly mediocre caterer may have padded their online reviews. If ever in doubt, try to reach out to some of those past clients and contact them directly.


9. Insurance A reputable catering company will always have liability insurance. It is a given. If they don’t, it is definitely a red flag. You don’t want to be carrying the legal burdens from the mishaps of your caterer.


10. A reputable/experiences chef and kitchen staff The number of years a catering has been in business may not always be the key thing to look at. Your chef and kitchen staff may have had more experience than that. Do not hesitate to ask for the chef’s credentials if you want to.


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