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How to Ensure Incredible Catering at Your Next Event

Food is a central part of many events, but finding the best caterer can be difficult and expensive. The good news is that we’ve acquired lots of excellent tips when it comes to ensuring you provide incredible catering at your next event.

The following will enable you to provide excellent catered food options to your guests while staying within budget.


Shop around

Just like we mentioned in our post on audio visual setup, the venue’s in-house vendor may not be the tastiest or cheapest option. There are pros and cons to a venue that has a pre-existing kitchen, but it’s always smart to see what other vendors may offer, too.

As you research outside caterers, keep the following in mind:

  • Pay attention to your venue contract. Tables, linens, and flatware are necessary items for an event, but some smaller venues don’t provide them. In this case, ask potential caterers if this is something they can provide.
  • Factor in delivery and setup fees when going with an outside vendor. Scheduling might be an issue, and it may end up costing more than similar in-house options.


Turn it into a sponsorship opportunity

It never hurts to look for a vendor who might donate part of their service or product to your event. Food and beverage sponsorships are a great way to decrease your catering costs. Our nonprofit clients have had great success with this – from an in-kind beverage or alcohol donation, to a double-branded chocolate bar gifts. We’ve also worked with some great catering companies who generously donate catering materials or services to reduce the final bill.


Always do a tasting of every option

This is especially important for gala dinners. You’ll want to taste everything the caterer will have on the menu. Tasting meetings are pretty standard, but don’t just pick what you like best at first bite. Factor in the timing of your event, your audience, and any specialty food and drink you might serve. And definitely don’t just take a caterer’s word on a plate if they don’t have a sample ready for you at the tasting. If they haven’t prepared it, it’s better to not include it on your menu.


Know special dietary needs ahead of time

For plated dinners, collect each guest’s dietary restrictions before managing your seating chart. This is the easiest way to make sure everyone will be served a plate that they can eat and will enjoy – and eliminates some of the behind-the-scenes scrambling with your caterer when you find out special requests during the event. Tougher restrictions need more advanced preparation. For example, kosher meals are one example of a plate that, when purchased at the last minute, can cost four or five times the price of a basic plate. The caterer should be able to make it work on short notice, but it’ll cost you so reach out ahead of time to keep costs in check.


Remember: No event is too small to focus on incredible food

It doesn’t have to be a gala of 600 people for you to think about how catering might surprise and delight the guests of your next event or meeting. Say, for example, you’re planning an awards program, and you want to bring the judges into the office to discuss finalists. Find a local business in your area that will cater small meetings with fresh, made-from-scratch meals. It will be better than the boring boxed meal from the sandwich shop on the corner, and it doesn’t have to cost much more.

Catering is an important part to making your event a success. By using the tips above, you’ll not only have a great meal, but you’ll be able to stay on budget while making guests happy. And if you need more help when it comes to catering logistics, feel free to drop us a line.

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