No event is complete without serving food to your guests. Food can also be one of the largest expenses so it is important that you make a considered choice. I often find this is one of the areas my clients struggle with so I am here to help with some useful advice about how to pick your event caterer, what makes a good event caterer and how they contribute to your event being deemed a success by your guests.
Things to consider.
There are so many things to think about when you are considering picking a caterer for your event. Firstly, do your research! If you are using a professional event or wedding planner to help you then their experience will be invaluable here. Think about the style of food you want to serve your guests, it must also fit with the style of event you are hosting. For example fish and chips at an awards ceremony is perhaps too casual whereas a plater, three course menu for 300 guests is very complex and requires a specific type of caterer to execute this to perfection. The venue you have selected for your event will also dictate the type of cuisine you serve. Is there enough room for tables for guests to be seated at, or is it standing room only for bowl food/canapes? The catering facilities are something you need to pay close attention to at your venue because if there is no kitchen (or a poorly equipped one) you will need to consider how your caterer will serve the food. It is often possible to install a catering tent set-up specifically for your catering team to use in the food preparation but do consult with your caterers about the facilities at your venue as they are the experts and will know what equipment and space your menu requires. Of course, many venues have a recommended suppliers list so you can use that as a starting point to find your caterers, the chances are they will have worked at the venue before so they know about logistics and layouts. Some venues may even have an in-house caterer that you have to use. This of course saves you a lot so fit searching for your own event caterer but gives you less flexibility both in terms of menus and budget.
What makes a good event caterer?
The quality of food is always of utmost importance. Look out for caterers that talk about the provenance of their food and if they are passionate about local produce. Reading their menus will give you some clues about this. A good caterer will also have great staff. Service with a smile goes a long way in making your guests feel looked after and ensuring they have a memorable time. Having well-presented staff is also important. Maybe ask to see some photos of events your caterer has worked at so you can see how their staff present themselves. Meeting with your caterer and communicating via phone/email will also give you a clue about their commitment and the quality of service they provide. Flexibility is also important in my book as quite often with an event not everything runs quite to plan so you must have a catering team that are pros at dealing with eventualities and seamlessly running service. Having a tasting of your menu (if appropriate) is also a great way to ensure there are no surprises at your event and to actually sample what the food tastes like! Any issues/questions with how the food tastes, how it is served or how it is presented can be addressed and finalised in advance. Flexibility is also about offering solutions to dietary requirements to ensure all your guest’s are fed! Always ensure your guests RSVP with their dietary requirements and that these are communicated clearer to your catering team. Discuss what options any vegetarians/vegans/coeliacs etc will be given if the rest of the menu is not suitable.
How can the caterer ensure your event is a success?
Service is super important here! Your guests will probably have the food as one of their key memories of your event and quite often the service of the food, especially if it is bad is even more memorable that what you have eaten! Think about going to a Michelin starred restaurant – if the service was terrible and the staff were scruffy and rude it wouldn’t matter how good that plate of food tasted, you would be bitterly disappointed! Having a team of staff who are professionals at working on events goes a long way to ensuring your guests are well-looked after and they enjoy themselves. Staff need to anticipate your guests’ needs, make sure drink is delivered when it is required and food is served on time and at the correct temperature! Finally, most caterers will have a Catering Event Manager whose job it will be to ensure the catering team work well together, to oversee the timings of the catering element of your event and to liaise with your venue representative or Event Planner. The Catering Event Manager is a key role in any event – they are the point of contact for your guests is there are any issues and the touch point for the kitchen and chefs, being the link between what is happening in the kitchen and what is happening at the event where your guests are.
There is certainly an awful lot to take into consideration not only when selecting your Event Caterer but also in the selection of you food choice. If you feel that some professional assistance would ease this stress and give you peace of mind that your event will run to perfection then we have a variety of services that can help you, whether it is a large scale wedding or an intimate dinner party, we will tailor our service to ensure you are supported in your planning.