At any event, one of the most important aspects is the food. It is one thing that is going to leave a lasting impression and you certainly don’t want it to be for the wrong reasons! Choosing the right caterer for the job requires a little time and research but will be worth it.
Finding A Diamond Amongst The Rough
Unfortunately the food service industry does not have a common qualification system and so it is easy for anyone with minimal training to set up and operate a food service business and they could end up being the caterer at your important event! Therefore you need to go through a vetting process before handing over responsibility for your food to just anyone.
One of the best ways to find an excellent caterer is through word of mouth. If you know people whose opinion you trust, ask for their recommendations. You may have attended an event yourself where the food was excellent. If so, ask the event organiser who supplied the catering. Similarly, if you were at an event where the food was awful, find out who they were so you can avoid them at all costs!
Never hire a caterer without arranging for a tasting in advance to get an idea of the quality of the food. If you are organising a large event you should bear in mind that it is much easier to provide food for a small tasting session and it will also be in their interest to give you their very best effort at the tasting in order to secure the business. Different caterers will excel at different things. Some may be better at large events whilst others excel at more intimate gatherings.
If you are happy with the tasting, don’t stop there. Your next step is to ask for references from previous customers, ideally from a recent event. It reassures you and demonstrates to the caterer that you expect a high standard. You should also insist on quality, fresh food and not frozen food that has been reheated but sold to you as fresh. You can also visit the caterer’s premises to reassure yourself that everything is prepared hygienically. You can also check them out with the food standards agency to see if they have any previous complaints or violations. You certainly don’t want a food poisoning disaster on your hands!
Contracts, Costs And Waiting Staff
Decide whether you need waiting staff at your event. You can lower costs if you don’t but if you do need them in addition to the food ask if the caterer provides them and if they are experienced working at your type of event. If they are unable to arrange waiting staff, this may be an indicator that they do not have much experience catering for larger events. When ordering food, the lowest cost should not be your prime concern; after all you will get what you pay for. If the price is too low, be wary. Get a breakdown of costs and a contract detailing a final price and what is included in the service.
Mark White writes regularly on the food service industry for a range of food websites and blogs including that of the 3663 food service.
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