A well-planned party seems to run flawlessly. Drinks flow, food is served and cleared away, and there never seems to be any mess! Creating a smooth-running event is more than just arriving with food and drink –there is a fair bit of science behind a fabulous party! When a caterer asks you a lot of questions before giving you a full estimate, it is because they are trying to determine all the variables in the “party equation.” This way, they can determine the perfect menu and amount of items needed to send to your party to make your event a success!

Finding a Caterer
The ideal way to find a caterer is through personal recommendation. Ask friends, family and colleagues who they’ve used. Also, If you like the catering services at the office, ask if they will do other private events. If your party is large, using an Event Planner may be the logical way to get a handle on things.

Its a good idea to find a caterer that is familiar with the venue you’ve booked. They can be a great help in explaining the particular logistics of the space. This is vital to insuring your event is successful on all levels. The venue you’ve chosen may have a preferred caterers list which is a good place to start your search.

Lastly, pick a caterer that shops where you shop. If you have a favorite butcher or cheese shop, ask if there are catering companies that buy from them. In the end, you cant make great food with out great ingredients.

Budget
This might seem daunting, but it is the most important first step in creating your menu. Have some sort of budget in mind before approaching your caterer. Menus come in all price ranges and knowing your budget will help your caterer fit a menu to your event.

Buffet vs. Plated Dinner
A buffet or food stations are typically less expensive than a sit down dinner, but this depends on the menu choices and the level of service required. Food can be served cold, hot in chafing dishes or prepared on site by station Chefs.
Sit-down dinners require having Chefs on site to prepare and plate your meal as well as additional staff to serve all of your guests at the same time. The food for plated meals requires one or more ovens on site to ensure that all of the food is served hot and in a timely manner

Cocktail Reception
Cocktail receptions are perfect for any occasion, at any time of the day. Bite sized hors d’oeuvres and elegant platters can bridge the gap between meals or be substantial enough to be your main meal, including breakfast!
Estimate 2 – 3 bites per person before dinner, 5– 8 bites for an early afternoon event and 7 – 14 bites in lieu of a traditional dinner.

Event Planning
What do you expect from your caterer? Do you just want to have food delivered to you or do you require help in planning your annual summer soirée or perfect wedding? Be very clear what your expectations are and what you may need assistance with.

Tastings
Most caterers offer “tastings” for large staffed events. Once you have confirmed the booking of your event with a deposit, most caterers will not charge for this service. If you are just shopping around you should expect to pay.

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