Worries over budgets automatically grip most of us whenever we hear the title ‘caterer’. It is a shame people have been fed with such negative notions about such a noble enterprise. Rarely will the first thought be happy thoughts of food and pastry. Thoughts of tasting the food, pastry then tasting more food! I love food, we all do. Back to the business of caterers, it is delightfully surprising how many of catering service providers provide service at affordable rates. The trick lies in finding the right ones. We will make that easy with the cheat sheet below.
Do you have availability on the date of your event? Of course, you will need to have asked this before the other questions. Otherwise, you will be wasting precious time barking up the wrong tree.
Sampling and Testimonials
Before you sign on a caterer ask if you can sample some food items off their menu along with their price ratings. Not because you love food, no. No one particularly enjoys bad food and whatever your justification for catering service expenditure is, you will definitely want your guests to enjoy their plates. Ask to see some testimonials. Service providers who have serviced corporate are the best and will readily refer you to these previous clients for testimonials.
Probe your service provider for assorted menu suggestions and be keen on pricing. Every different menu comes with a different price per plate. The price alone should not push you away, caterers are for the most part very flexible in their prices and always leave room for price reviews.
Where you do not have furniture and equipment for your function, whether a wedding, appreciation party or large family get together. Will your caterer provide furniture? Do they provide public address systems for events they cover? What are their breakages policies? Importantly, you need only to sign caterers who are proactive and can take charge and provide set-up suggestions besides actively setting-up unless of course where the services sought substantively end at dropping the food at the location. Even where they are not in charge of the entire event, it would be nice to have a caterer who gets out of their way.
What are the dietary options does your potential service provider provide? Do they meet any dietary requirements that might have been necessitated by your guests, e.g. vegan diets, allergy and irritation considerations such as gluten-free, nut free menu items, medical / health dietary requirements? We have all hosted guests who had one or two of these dietary requirements and on your special functions, they are bound to be at least a number of them. Does your caterer guarantee to take care of that and at what cost implication? Are they willing to communicate the nature of the ingredients to avoid embarrassing situations related to these conditions? While that you might want to know where your service provider sources their ingredients. Do they use locally produced and organic farm produce? Of course, you never want to by-pass the local farms unless you have items in your menu that must adhere to appellation origin standards.
Arrival times and Staff Affairs
The caterer should be able to assure you that they will be at the venue in good time, early enough to orient themselves with the venue, the kitchen, the event set-up, and have time to prepare the meal where it is being prepared on-site. They should commit to being there before the event starts. Whether food will be prepared on-site or not. Where food is prepared off the site of the event, it should be dropped off early enough to give room for action on contingencies and whatever finishing touches would be appropriate. Equally important to agree on before engaging a service provider are the staff departure times. Bartenders waiters and entertainers are usually the last to leave. How will the waiting team be dressed? Are your guests allowed to tip them? Are the staff certified to handle food? Do they possess interpersonal skills? Has their employer taken out liability cover for them while on client site?
What is the ratio of serving staff to guests? Ask to visit an invent they have furnished if the hosts do not mind and find out how the caterer works on the day of the event. Does their number of waiting for staff to complement well with the number of your guests? If not, will you have to pay extra to fill in the gap?