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How to choose the right caterer

Whether it’s a decadent dinner party at home for your closest friends, a last-minute corporate event, or a lavish wedding for hundreds, one of the first elements you start thinking about is food.

Catering is a core part of any event, and choosing a caterer will reduce stress, save you time, and allow you to enjoy your event just as any other guest would!

When it comes to choosing a caterer, there are a few important considerations you must make. We’ve picked out some of the most important!

Think about… your budget

Your budget is probably one of the most important factors when it comes to planning a special event, and it seems to be the one thing that brings us back to reality.

Sometimes, though, it’s easy to get carried away and slip up when it comes to keeping it in check. You need to make sure you’re working with a catering company who can in turn work within your budget, offering you fabulous – yet practical and reasonable – options.

A good catering company will ask questions around your budget and work within those parameters to choose the appropriate package and menu to suit. And if your budget isn’t going to match your vision, they should be honest and upfront at the very early stages so you can reassess either dining style or the funds you have allocated.

Here too is when you should ensure all payment rules are clear. Some of the questions that you need to ask are:

  • What kind of deposit do you need in advance?

  • When does the balance need to be paid?

  • What happens if I need to change my date?

  • What happens if I cancel my event?

  • What happens if my numbers change?

Think about… a tasting session

It sounds obvious, but a chance to sample your chef’s best work is often something that isn’t considered.

Get together with a friend or family member to learn more about what a caterer can produce, and whether their specialties and skills can mesh well with all the ideas in your mind.

tasting session is the perfect chance to give your taste buds a say!

Keep in mind that a tasting session is the time to judge quality and presentation, it isn’t necessarily a time to try the exact menu you will receive for your event.

Think about… menus

Are you content with set menus, or do you want the ability to change some aspects of your meals?

This is when your personal preference plays an important role. A good caterer will create a sample menu and you’ll be able to work together to create the perfect one for your special event.

Make sure that your venue has the space to accommodate your menu. Is your plan a three-course dinner for 70 guests? Or is it a cocktail evening (think canapés and finger food) for 200?  The space required would be the same.

Think about… wait staff

Here we can relate back to our first point.

Wait staff are a fantastic addition to a fully catered event, as they take the stress away from you having to worry about all facets of your event, from serving your guests food and drinks, to assisting with set up, back down and clean up.

A good catering company provides their own qualified wait staff and will help you understand the number of staff you will need based on the size of your event.

Think about… allergies and dietary requirements

Hospital admissions for severe allergy reactions have doubled over the last ten years in Australia, the USA, and the UK, and people are becoming more conscious about their eating habits.

Do you have guests that require special dietary needs? How can you and your caterer work together to best accommodate all guests?

This is particularly imminent for larger groups where you mightn’t be as familiar with dietary needs. If you’re a big company organising a work party, you better get a clear idea of people’s needs, or, at the very least, incorporate vegetarian options into the catering.

Think about… raising a glass

Those seasoned folks who love wining and dining know how important it is to find a perfect match between food and drink.

A good catering company provide a professional bartending service, whether that is working with your supplied drinks or with our expert selection of boutique wines and beers.

They should also talk to your about the bar equipment you will need and give you handy tips like ice requirements and makingsure all your drinks are pre-chilled.

Think about… how involved you want to be

Do you want to sit back and be a guest at your own dinner party, rather than worrying about all the trivial details?

Then make it clear that you want your caterer – in the form of its wait staff, bar staff and chef – to run the entire evening.

Think about… these extras

  • Have you found a caterer who will supply tableware, linen, glassware and cutlery for the event?

  • Have you found a responsive caterer who quickly responds to emails or phone calls?

  • Have you found a caterer who is appropriately licensed to serve alcohol?

  • Have you found a caterer who provide a clear quote, payment method, contract and cancellation policy?

At the end of the day, you’re employing the services of a wonderful catering company who will ensure your event runs as smoothly as possible. Don’t forget to put your trust in them, and step back to enjoy your event just as any of your guests would!

Searching for the right caterer in Melbourne for your next special event? The search stops here! Browse our menus and if you’d like a chat, call Ana today!