Tuesday Tips: Catering Considerations

We all know that really good catering, and the service that accompanies it, goes a long way to ensuring a positive guest experience at any event, conference or wedding. Here are a few things that we consider when we work with our clients to book catering.

Consider the style of your event

Will guests be in a networking environment where they have no fixed seat or are you planning on seating all your guests at tables? This will help you decide whether a plated meal, shared platters or buffet style catering option is best or if canapes or a walk and fork menu suits your occasion. Don’t fall into the trap of booking canapes or bowl food to keep the costs down, the rule of thumb is to expect to spend that same as what you would on a main meal if you are having this style of service over a main meal period. Sometimes it can even cost a little extra due to the number of options or serves per person, to ensure all your guests walk away with full bellies.

Consider the length of your event

It’s really important to consider how long guests will be on site at your event. For example if your guests are attending a wedding over an 8 hour period you will need to cater for them regularly. Think canapes or platters, a main meal and possibly even supper. This not only makes you a responsible host, but also satisfies your guests hunger on what can be a very long day, especially when they have got themselves ready and to your ceremony in time for a 3pm kick off. Corporate events can be shorter in length, such business networking events or celebration dinners, or can be all day affairs if you are planning a business conference. Our rule of thumb with catering is to feed our guests every few hours that they are on site with us!

Choose the right caterer for the job

Not all caterers specialise in all styles of catering service nor have the right equipment for the job. For example, if you are going on trend and choose a food truck to cater for your event do they have the capacity to cater for large numbers over condensed periods of time; either from their truck or in a temporary kitchen? Likewise a company that specialises in grazing platters possibly won’t be the best option for your French platter style sit down meal. We like to choose the best caterer for the style of the event that we are working on and then let them create a menu that they know that they can serve to a high standard and in the desired time frame. This approach keeps the catering company and the guests happy.

Consider your guests dietary requirements

The earlier that you can advise your caterer of the expected dietary requirements of your guests the easier it is for them to design a menu that incorporates as many of these dietary requirements as possible into the main menu. Incorporating the dietary requirements at the outset of menu planning means there are less guests to cater special meals for on the day, resulting in less opportunity for a guest to leave dissatisfied when their dietary requests aren’t met. As events move towards more informal styles of catering or venue set up, it can be hard for the catering staff to track guests down with their special meals, compared with when guests are seated according to a table plan.

Have a budget in mind

Your event manager or caterer are not in business to overcharge…especially as our businesses so often rely on word of mouth advertising! When we ask for a budget it is so that we can help to manage your expectations and to design a menu that works for your event, within your budget. Yes, sometimes that budget may need to be adjusted upwards if you have caviar tastes, but more often of not the clever cater you have chosen will be able to design an in-season menu that doesn’t leave you out of pocket or calling past McDonald’s on the way home from the event!

What’s included in the quote?

Find out what catering equipment, flatware (plates, cutlery etc.), kitchen equipment and service staff are included within your menu price or quote right from the start. Some caterers include kitchen equipment and service staff as part of the menu pricing however still charge additional rates for flatware, others may include everything, or same may itemise out every individual item so that you have a food cost, a service cost, an equipment hire cost and even a travel cost if you are heading out of town. There is no right or wrong to how your caterer presents the quote to you, it’s just important for you to know as the buyer what’s included so that you can compare pricing over an even playing field.

If you would like a list of our recommended caterers, get in touch!

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