Whether you are planning a corporate event, a wedding, or family gathering, the food selection can outright make or break it. Good food can compensate for a less than a stellar venue and make an event worthwhile. More often than not, the food you provide — its taste, appearance, and service — leaves a longer impression on your guests than the venue, décor, or entertainment.
The overall success of the even rides on the catering company you choose to hire. This is why you need to put a great amount of time and thought before you make a decision. Naturally, you would want your event to be as perfect as possible; hiring a trusted caterer is worth your investment.
Here are a few tips to help you choose the right catering company for your event.
Experience is one of the most important factors to be considered when hiring an event caterer. A rich history of catering events both large and small is a good gauge of a company’s ability to deliver.When canvassing prospects, request photos from past events. In addition to being proof of previous projects, pictures can also serve as a sneak-peek for what you can expect from their food and services.Of course, the number of years in the industry is not the only qualification you have to look into when considering experience. Other budding caterers can also provide quality service. In such cases, make sure to check their certifications and proof of compliance to industry standards if available. Also, reviews and recommendations can be very telling of the company’s ability to successfully handle events.
Many caterers specialize in a specific type of event. Some caterers work best servicing small, intimate gatherings, while some focus on serving large corporate affairs. It is essential that you ask enough questions to know if the caterer has the right kind of experience and equipment you need for your own event.Know your options. Some companies offer packages depending on the number of guests, budget, or location. Others are willing to design a proposal and a customized menu for your function. Get as much information as you need about their offers and selections. The last thing you need is a barbecue served at a white-tie gala.
- Communication and Organization
Catering is not just about the food. It is also about the service. Is the caterer organized? Did they return your emails in a timely manner? Are they interested in learning about your event? Typically, the caterer’s responsiveness and interest during your conversations are good indicators of how they will perform on the day itself. They should be able to answer your questions adequately while also asking about your theme, budget, and goals.You need a catering service that’s open to suggestions and critique. Good communication and timely response are signs that your caterer values you as a client.
You must have a clear idea of the cost of services. Your budget will be a deciding factor in finalizing your choice of event caterer. If you are working on a budget, be sure that you inform them about it. They can often suggest the best option that takes into account how much you are willing to spend. Some caterers will cover set-up and staffing as well as the food, while some may only provide food alone.It is important to make sure that the quote you receive covers the services you agreed upon and that there are no potential hidden fees or additional costs before signing the contract.
The quality of the food should be paramount. Speak to your caterer about how the food will be prepared. Will they do it off-site or at the venue? You may also check with them about their menu ingredients to accommodate allergies or specific preferences.If possible, do check with them the following:
- Menu Options
Every caterer has standard menus to choose from. However, some may be open to customizing these menus to meet your specific needs. If you are hosting a children’s party, see if they offer a children’s menu. Also, if possible, take into account your guests’ preferences. Make sure your chosen caterer can provide vegan or vegetarian options (if necessary) or substitute ingredients for those with food allergies.
- Types of Meals
Consider whether you want meals served plated, buffet style, or cocktail style.Plated service is the most convenient for your guests. They remain seated while their food is brought to their respective tables. However, it has a set number of pre-determined courses, is more expensive, and requires more staff. This is ideal for more formal events.The buffet service offers a wider variety of food choices for your guests. However, it requires them to stand in line to get their food.A cocktail style service is an excellent choice for events that don’t need full meals. Typically, caterers only have to provide drinks and finger foods or hors d’oeuvres.
- Special Requests
If you have special requests in mind, like a favourite food or specific dietary requirements, bring them up during your initial meeting with your prospective caterers. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or provide suggestions. See if they are open to such requests before you sign the contract.
- Taste Testing
After you’ve narrowed down your options, you can try to schedule a taste testing. Sometimes, catering companies will offer a tasting menu so you can evaluate their offers. If they don’t provide this option, check out if you can order a sample meal instead. This may be available for an extra cost, but it is a necessary step to determine which caterer fits your vision.
- Reliability and Efficiency
Remember that when you hire a catering service, you are not only paying for the food and the beverage, but you are also paying for the service. It is equally vital that you select a reliable and efficient team of chefs and kitchen staff to assist you during the event. Certainly, you don’t want the food to come in late or for them to deliver short of what was agreed upon. In most situations, it is the ease of doing business with the company that seals the deal.
- Well-Defined Contract and Cancellation Policy
Contracts protect both parties in the agreement. Like anything in business, you should also get it in writing. The contract should outline what food, beverages, and service is expected of the caterer, together with the date, time, and location of delivery.Additionally, speak with your caterer about insurance coverage in case of an oversight or accident. In the event of cancellation, it should also be clear to both parties what the cancellation procedure is and what the penalties are (if any).
Do your due diligence and find the company that suits your vision and the needs of your event. The overall success of your event, as well as your enjoyment, hinges on whether your chosen vendor can deliver on their promises.
If you are looking to hire the services of one of the top catering companies in Toronto, turn to elle cuisine. We offer excellent services for any event, from children’s birthday parties to lavish weddings. Our team is comprised of top-notch chefs and a dedicated team offering a feast for your palate and a delightful atmosphere for your affair.
Let us know how we be of service. Call us at 647.430.3553 or send a message to request a quote.