Not only does the food and drink at an event usually account for the largest part of the event budget, it also tends to be one of the most memorable aspects for guests. This means that when you’re choosing a caterer and planning your event menu, it’s important to have all the information at your disposal so that you can make an informed decision. There are some crucial questions to ask any caterers beforehand, and we’re here to share them with you.
1. Do You Offer Tastings?
Tastings are an integral part of planning your menu; they give you the closest representation of what guests will be served on the day. Without tastings, you’re left to trust that the food will taste good without first-hand experience, and this can be risky. Planning a menu is much easier when you’ve tasted the food.
2. Do You Specialize in a Certain Type of Food?
Some caterers have specific specialities while others work within the boundaries of traditional banquet style meals. If you’re looking for unique and specialized dishes, it’s always best to go with a caterer that has extensive experience in preparing those dishes. Asking a caterer unfamiliar with a certain dishes to prepare something new for your event menu can easily lead to disaster. This is especially important if you have ethnic dishes that need to be prepared in a certain way or flavour profiles that traditional caterers may not be comfortable with. This is not the time to be experimental. You want to have the best team for the menu you are looking for.
3. Where Is The Food Prepared?
Different caterers approach food preparation in different ways. Some prepare on-site while some will have the food pre-prepared before arriving at the venue. Depending on the size of the party, certain preparations might be necessary, but it’s a good idea to know beforehand exactly how the caterer will approach the question of preparation. The time between preparation and serving may mean a change in quality or freshness.
4. Where Do You Source Your Ingredients?
This question is especially important for those who are looking for organic, healthy options for the meal. Knowing where the ingredients are sourced can tell you a lot about the quality of the food the caterer can provide. If you’re interested in locally grown, organic options, make sure the caterers can back that up by telling you where they’ve sourced their ingredients.
5. Can You Accommodate Allergies and Dietary Restrictions?
With any large number of guests, a certain amount of flexibility becomes crucial. Having a guest who can’t partake in the meal because there are no accommodations for allergies or dietary restrictions is less than ideal and can be stress inducing on the day of the event. When planning your event venue, make sure the catering company is able to accommodate everyone. An experienced caterer can easily accommodate all of your guests with flavourful and accessible plates for everyone.
6. Do You Have the Proper Licensing?
Things like liability insurance and health permits might not seem like the most pressing of issues when you’re planning your event menu, but in the off chance that someone should become ill, you’ll want to know you’re covered. Insurance also extends to alcohol–not all catering companies have liquor licenses, meaning they won’t be able to provide alcohol along with the food. Many venues require caterers to show proof of all permits, so make sure the choice you make is also the correct one.
7. How Do You Price Your Services?
Different catering companies have different means of pricing their services. Some companies will charge a-la-carte while others offer different package deals for different budgets. Considering how expensive catering can be, when planning your event menu, it’s a good idea to know exactly what kind of bill you’re in for. You want to know that there are no hidden fees and incidentals that may blow your budget in the end.
8. Do You Provide Kids’ Meals?
Depending on whether you’ll have children in attendance at your wedding, this question can be very important. Children will usually need separate meals with different proportions and it’s best to know in advance if the catering company will be able to accommodate this. It’s also important to consider cost. For example, does the catering company charge extra for kids’ meals or does it come included in the overall cost?