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How to Choose a Caterer

Whether it’s a wedding, a class reunion, a corporate meeting or any kind of event, picking a good caterer is crucial. But what do you consider when looking for a catering service, and how do you make comparisons among caterers?

Recommendations

If you don’t have a lot of experience with caterers, you will have to begin to scratch. Ask people around you for referrals, and read online reviews about local caterers (just make sure to stick to reputable consumer websites where reviews are generally authentic). The management at your event venue may also give some names of caterers that are worth recommending.

Kitchen

Prior to hiring a caterer, be sure you have seen their kitchen. Of course, the environment has to be clean, fresh-smelling and professional overall. Otherwise, you have a catering service that has no real pride of passion for their business – and one you need to avoid.

Menu

There are various types of caterers, which only means that not all of them are good for you. Discuss menu possibilities with your prospective caterer, and don’t forget to mention any dietary guidelines that may have to be observed (for example, a guest having an allergy to nuts). You just want to enjoy your event instead of worrying about guests.

Staff

If you’re not sure how many people you’ll need, here’s a cheat sheet:

Buffet – around two waiters per thirty guests For a bigger party, there should be two or three additional runners to restock chafing stations and clear dishes.

Sit-Down Meal – one server for every eight guests, plus extra servers to handle drinks

Bar Staff – one bartender and one bar-back for a set of fifty guests You’ll need more bartenders if you plan to set up specialty drink stations.

Keep in mind that to ensure a smooth flow of services during the event, you will need a captain of service for each group of six staff members.

Client Input

You have the option to simply provide an outline of your desired menu and then give the caterer full control. Still, you should be working closely with your caterer at every stage of the event.

Menu Tasting

This is another crucial part of selecting a good caterer. You need to give your final approval of the menu, as well as sample everything on it before the event date.

Cost

Be specific regarding your budget and that the quote you are given already covers the caterer’s full service, from set up to pack up and all staffing issues. Finally, confirm with the caterer that there will be no hidden or additional fees and costs before signing the contract.

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