People remember the food at an event, so you want to impress. But with so many caterers to choose from, how do you decide?
- Know your options: Before you can make a good decision, it is important to know all your options. Food caterers vary not only in price, but in service and in the options they offer. Start by searching for caterers in your city and pick three to interview from among those with the best local reviews and reviews from people you know.
- Types of meals: A sit-down dinners complete with a wait staff is the most expensive method while buffet-style meals require fewer staff and also offer guests a wider variety of food choices. Sometimes the buffet concept is decentralized into several food stations such as a meat carving station, a salad station, dessert station and others that guests move between. This makes for shorter lines, but more lines. Family-style meals involve the caterer's staff supplying bowls of food for each table for guests to help themselves. Some events do not need a full meal, so caterers can provide hors d'oeuvres.
- Menu options: If you will be having children at your event, ask if the caterer offers a children's menu. The price break could be significant. Be aware that some guests may be vegetarian or have common food allergies.
- Special requests: If you have special requests in mind, bring your ideas up at the first interview. Maybe you want a particular dish prepared that is not on their regular menu. Find out if they are willing to follow your suggestions before getting too far along in the process. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Ruling out caterers as you go will help you narrow the search.
- Past events: Take a close look at reviews and ask to see a portfolio of past events. This will give you a better idea of the food caterer's style and talents. Find out if they provide linens, china, barware and other decorations as part of the price, or for an extra fee.
- Taste testings: Once you have narrowed down your options, you should schedule a taste testing. Some caterers host specific dates for samplings, other may do so on a case-by-case basis. If this is not a part of their regular options, find out if you can order a sample meal. This big decision is worth the extra money.