Why not save yourself the hassle and turn the cooking part of the project over to the pros? We have loads of great people around here who’ll cater you a meal you can be proud to share.
Throwing a party? When you factor in the cost of running around after ingredients, and the time you’ll spend putting dishes together, hiring a caterer may begin to sound like a really good idea. After all, your goal here is to have a great time with people you cherish, not to spend enormous time and energy on prep and even more on making sure, whilst your friends mingle, that the hot things are hot and the cold things are cold and the veggie lasagne comes out of the oven at the perfect moment.
So why not save yourself the hassle and turn the cooking part of the project over to the pros? We have loads of great people around here who’ll cater you a meal you can be proud to share, whatever your tastes and needs might be. Catering isn’t just for weddings anymore, and choices range from a standout six-foot sub for game night to a globally inspired feast of gourmet delicacies.
Here are some things to consider and questions to ask to help you find the caterer who’ll leave a really good taste in your mouth:
If there’s a restaurant where you’ve had a meal that made you happy for days, check with them and see if they do catering.
1. START WITH FAVORITES
If there’s a restaurant where you’ve had a meal that made you happy for days, check with them and see if they do catering. If not, think about the kind of cuisine you want and do some online research (Pro tip: our advertisers who cater do exceptional work). Read menus and reviews to get an idea of the chef’s expertise.
2. NARROW YOUR LIST TO THREE OR FOUR POSSIBILITIES
Make some phone calls. Don’t be put off if they’re too busy to talk on first contact; restauranting is a demanding life, and you’ll get the best results if you start by asking when they might be free to talk. With a phone appointment, you’ll be sure to have their undivided attention. Find out if they’re available on your date; if so, schedule an in-person appointment that can include menu planning and a kitchen tour.
3. AT YOUR MEETING, LOOK FOR SIGNS OF A WELL-RUN OPERATION.
Any place can have a bad day, but even then, there should be teamwork on display, not shouting and misery. Restaurant kitchens routinely get messy, but chronic crud is another story. Things should look, smell, and feel orderly and cheerful.
4. COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS AND WANTS CLEARLY.
Include what tableware you’ll need, and your special menu considerations, preferences, or any allergies. Some places can handle any restriction you throw their way; others, not so much. Through this process, you should be able to get a sense of whether you’re dealing with the right people.
Look for signs of a well-run operation.
5. CONSIDER SERVING STYLES.
Buffet, sit-down? Will you have a bar? Make sure the caterer you’d like to use can offer the staff you’ll need to pull off the party you want. A buffet for 30 can be handled by two servers, while a more formal sit-down dinner needs a server for each table of eight. And if it is important to you, feel free to ask about what they’ll be wearing.
6. SCHEDULE A TASTING
Once you have a menu plan in place, a good caterer should offer a tasting so that you can be sure that the flavors will meet your expectations. (Ask up-front if this will be part of the package.) Don’t go to your tasting on an empty stomach or right after a meal; aim for the sweet spot that allows you to fully appreciate each bite.
7. GO OVER YOUR QUOTE DETAILS
Before you sign a contract, make sure you know exactly what’s included in the quoted price. Will catering staff help with cleanup? Here (as in every aspect of catering and life), clear communication is the key to avoiding unpleasant surprises.
8. PERFECT YOUR FINISHING TOUCHES
Relax and focus on your guest list, your planned entertainment, and polishing your party space to a shine. With the food taken care of, you will be free to look forward to the fun!