Hiring a caterer is a difficult job, but if you’re hosting a large event like a wedding, expo, speaker or something else you will need to get the best caterer possible for your needs and build a direct, trusting relationship. Here’s how to do it.
Get Referrals/Check Reviews
One of the most important steps you can take is to check into the background of the company. It’s important to ask friends and families for referrals, as getting a referral from a banquet hall or hotel is not always trustworthy, as they can get kickbacks from the catering company.
It’s also important to check out the reviews of catering companies, and see if people have enjoyed their services in the past. Be careful of caterers with a 5-star average though, as their reviews may be fabricated.
Ask The Right Questions
When planning your event, you have a lot on your mind. So when you meet with your caterer, be sure to write down the questions you have before you get there so you don’t get overwhelmed!
The most important questions to ask are of course about cost and the number of guests they can serve, but there are other questions which should be on the table as well, like:
- Are you a full-service catering company, or do you just drop off the food?
- What food service options do you provide, i.e. buffet, full-service, etc.?
- Do you serve alcohol? If not, can you recommend a trustworthy vendor that you are comfortable coordinating with?
- From where do you source your ingredients?
- What do you do with the leftovers? How much extra will it cost to box up leftover food for guests?
- Are you willing to make food which isn’t on the menu?
Be Ready For Your Tasting
This is one of the most important pieces of hiring a caterer. Don’t be afraid to be direct and honest, you won’t hurt the chef or staff’s feelings; they’ve probably heard much worse during their career.
If you don’t like something, speak up; there may be other options. Also, be sure to taste the drinks with the food, especially if you are having wine or a specialty drink. Just take small sips so the alcohol doesn’t impair your judgement.
Keep Communication Open
Finally, be sure to keep communication fluid between yourself and the caterers. Make sure there is a point-person assigned from the catering team for you to talk with. Pick up the phone when you have questions, especially if the wedding is coming up soon; emails can get lost or take days to go back and forth on something which could be handled in 10 minutes over the phone.
Hopefully these tips help you get the most out of your catering experience, and you have an awesome event!