Regardless of whether you are planning an intimate dinner with close friends at your home, an extravagant wedding with hundreds of guests or something in between, you understandably may be focused on the foods and drinks that will be served. Some people choose to prepare all of their foods on their own, and this may be with or without the help of friends and family members. However, there are substantial benefits associated with hiring a caterer. For example, when someone else handles the meal preparations and serves your guests, you can more easily prepare for your event beforehand and mingle with your guests in a relaxed manner at the event. In addition, you may not have to stress out about cleaning up after the event when you may be fatigued. When you are searching for a great caterer to hire, follow a few helpful tips to make an informed decision.
Focus on Available Menu Options
Some catering companies have an extensive list of menu selections that you can choose from. This may include menu options featuring ethnic foods, home-style dishes and more. Other catering companies may specialize in a certain type of food, and their menu options may be more limited. When you are selecting menu options, you need to think about selections that most people who are attending your event will love. You also should consider special dietary needs, such as vegetarian options, gluten-free choices and more. You cannot please everyone, and people with special dietary needs often understand that they may not always be able to find something that they can eat at big events. However, if you know that several people have similar needs, you can always try to accommodate them, if possible.
Pay Attention to the Service Style
When you contact different catering companies, you will notice that some only offer buffet-style or family-style service. Others offer plated service, and they bring their own wait staff to the event to serve your guests. Many party and event hosts have a service style in mind. For example, you may want plated service for an elegant soiree, and buffet service would not be suitable. The service style is a major factor to consider, and examining this factor carefully can help you to quickly narrow down your options.
The cost of caterers varies substantially because of several important points. You may think that catering companies that charge a higher rate serve higher-quality food, but this is not always the case. Plated service, for example, can drive the cost of your food upward even when quality is similar. In addition, if the caterer provides paper plates versus china, the cost can vary. Some caterers do not provide any dinner plates, forks or other items, and this is entirely your responsibility. Very few caterers include alcoholic beverage service in their offerings, but this is another factor that can drive costs upward. The reputation or experience of the catering company can also result in higher rates, but this does not always mean that the food is better than a catering company that is a relative newcomer in your local area.
Understand the Caterer’s Needs
Depending on the type of catering experience that you desire and who your caterer is, the caterer may need at least some space to set up food behind the scenes and to plate dinners. They may also need a kitchen to keep foods warm or cold. Before you hire a caterer, inquire about specific needs for kitchen appliances, counter space and more. For buffet-style service, you will need space in your venue for at least a few long tables to place the entrees and sides on. Ensure that the venue you select can accommodate those needs.
There are numerous factors that can affect your decision about which catering company to hire for your event. Some of the factors may not commonly be reviewed by party or event hosts, but they can play a major role in how your event is executed and in the overall enjoyment that your guests have from their dining experience. Each of these factors is equally important, so spend ample time examining each of these factors carefully before you decide which catering company to hire.