Organizing an event or party is no cakewalk; you have to cover a lot of things to make it successful. The objective is to entertain the guests. On top of the list of priorities is providing them with great food. You intend to leave a lasting impression, but it doesn’t mean that you need to hire an expensive chef. Working with a catering company does the job, assuming you hired the right one.
How do you choose the best catering service? With all the local companies out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices. Plus, you’re torn between choosing a restaurant and an exclusive catering business. If you don’t have the time for a caterer’s tasting, you’re better off hiring a restaurant with a menu that you’re familiar with.
Before signing the dotted line, ask these questions:
1 – What types of food do you specialize?
Catering companies offer distinctive menus and specialties dishes. These services compete with each other, which is a good thing for customers like you because it gives you a handful of options. You need to ask this question to get a feel of what types of food they offer. It’ll also tell you if the chef is versatile enough to come up with a customized menu based on your needs.
A catering company’s versatility is measured on how they can adjust to restrictions and food preferences. Most dietary restrictions and sensitivities only come to light once the guests confirm their attendance. It may be too late for you to make adjustments to the food and beverages. You solve this predicament by talking to the catering company about the possibility of offering a varied lineup of food. This ensures that those who follow a vegan or gluten-free diet will have something to eat.
2 – What are the available serving options?
Most parties are flexible and informal, which is why you may ask the catering services about how you want the food to be served. Be reminded that each serving option is priced differently, i.e., stationary appetizers are more affordable compared to a Passed Hors-d’Oeuvres where servers move the trays with food around the venue. If the party is a full dining experience, then you choose between a buffet and a wait staff (plated sit-down service).
If you choose the sit-down service, be sure to ask in advance if the catering company brings its in-house wait staff. There’ve been countless instances of parties ruined by the absence of wait staff as a result of miscommunication.
3 – Do you have the equipment required?
One telltale sign that you’re talking to the right catering company is when it’s well-equipped with the things you need for the delivery and serving of food. Nonetheless, don’t assume that the one you plan to hire has everything. It’s why you should ask in advance so that you don’t end up missing out on the intangibles such as dishes and glassware.
4 – Do you have a permit to operate and liability insurance?
Like all other contractors, choose a catering service armed with a local permit and liability insurance. If there’s liquor on the menu, ask if the company has a separate liquor liability insurance. Don’t take the right of hiring a caterer that doesn’t have that coverage because you’d be liable for any injury or damage to property caused by someone who’s under the influence of alcohol. A legitimate catering company is responsible enough to secure the necessary health permits and liability insurance to protect its clients and the business.
Not all venues allow the serving of alcoholic beverages. So, if you’re planning to include cocktail drinks, wine, or anything with alcohol, be sure to consult with both the venue management and your caterer.
5 – Do you offer extra services?
It works to your advantage if you choose a highly versatile catering company that can offer more than great food and service. Ask if they have other services that you may find appealing. The best examples are bar services, extra desserts and drinks, and even special venues for rent. Some catering companies offer a package deal for everything you need in a party. Explore this option if you want to save money since package deals are usually discounted. It’ll also be easier to work with the same guys instead of having multiple contractors.
Every catering company you meet has something unique to offer, but you don’t decide on which “add on” is the most interesting. Sometimes, people are blindingly impressed with added services and discounts that they forget about what they actually need, which is good food and equally impressive service.