Updated: Nov 9, 2019
Selecting a caterer requires some thought and deliberation. Food and beverage costs often are a large percentage of an event’s cost. Meals can also be the most memorable highlight of an event so selecting a caterer can be a significant decision! Consider these questions before you select a caterer at your next event.
Do you have any signature dishes or specialties? Can a tasting be arranged? What distinguishes you from other caterers? Choose a caterer whom you are comfortable and confident with to create a memorable meal for your guests. Your caterer should be able to offer tastings to get a better idea of their culinary style.
Can you handle special menu requests and guests’ allergies or dietary restrictions? A caterer should be able to accommodate special requests like vegan, vegetarian, kosher, and halal meals. You may also want to see if a caterer can create kid-friendly dishes and incorporate special family recipes into their menu.
Do you have a license and liability insurance? Make sure that your caterer meets health department standards.
Where will the food be prepared and what are your water/electrical needs? Some venues have on-site accommodations while others will require that the caterer bring in special equipment. If that is the case, find out what fees may be associated to cover additional equipment costs.
What is included in your price and which rentals will be provided?
Check on tax and gratuity costs as well as rentals which can include everything from tables, chairs, linens, plates, glassware, silverware, salt and pepper shakers, etc. On top of rental prices are gratuity costs. How do you handle tipping? When it comes to tipping, the caterer may have certain policies in place, so make sure you understand them beforehand.
What amount of wait staff do you recommend and what attire do they wear? Whether your event is big or small, you want to make sure you have the staff on-hand to support it. Wait staff attire is no small detail: you will want your staff to look professional and uniform so be sure to find out how the caterer will outfit them.
What is your average price range and what does the price vary on? Some caterers charge a flat fee while others charge based on the foods used for the menu. Before selecting a caterer, you will want to understand their price model.
Who will be present the day of the event and are you handling any other events that day? Know who your main contact is for the day of the event. Make sure that your selected caterer has the appropriate and dedicated resources available to ensure a smooth event.
Can you accommodate vendor meals and what will the additional cost be? While it is not a requirement to offer vendors the same food as the guests, it is always wise to make sure that your vendors get fed. If the caterer can accommodate vendor meals, it could allow for a more convenient arrangement for both parties.
How will the food be arranged and do you handle all table settings? Some caterers are very elaborate in their presentation while others keep things more simple. If you have place cards and party favors, find out how your caterer may help with the arrangement of these items.
By Brittany Ryan