What to look for in a caterer

There is an expression that says “horses for courses”. In simple terms, this means that certain people and businesses are better suited to certain situations, and vice versa. This can be applied to caterers, especially if you want one to provide exactly what you want. While you should listen to what your caterer has to say, it’s also important to make sure they hear what you’re asking for.

The best bit of advice when looking for a caterer is to create a checklist of exactly what you want from them. This has a two-fold benefit. It means you can establish early on whether a prospective caterer can literally ‘cater’ for your needs, and also it means that when comparing caterers, you are able to make a direct comparison. There are some simple questions you should ask that will relate directly to the important elements on your checklist.

Establish if they can comfortably cater for the number of guests you anticipate entertaining. If it is an outdoor event, establish if the caterer has the necessary equipment to work outside as opposed to inside. In addition, establish if they can provide a contingency plan should the weather change drastically. Enquire if they need access to facilities in your house for catering purposes or if all the food is prepared off-site. Also, it is important to ask what additional facilities your caterer can provide, including a marquee, decorations and flowers, drinks, tables, chairs, music and external toilet facilities.

References and recommendations are worth their weight in gold. If you have been to a function where the food was particularly memorable, find out who the caterer was. Don’t be afraid to ask around as this is a great way to find out which caterers are worth contacting and which ones to avoid. It also goes without saying that it is important to establish a budget early on. Once again, certain caterers can cater right across the board, while others are purely high-end. However, when establishing a budget, simply taking your caterer’s word for the fact the food will be ‘fantastic’ is dangerous. A serious and professional caterer will be very happy to listen to your guidelines and then prepare a tasting menu so you can sample the majority, if not all, of the food that will be served on the day.

If you have not used the caterer before, you would be strongly advised to visit their premises to check on basic hygiene and cleanliness. It’s quite rare, but there are chances of food poisoning, which you want to avoid as much as possible.  And though it may sound over-cautious, if the event is for a christening where very young children will be present or a golden wedding anniversary where many of the guests may be more aged and frail, see whether your caterer has any recommendations regarding the health and well-being of more vulnerable guests.

Take a recommendation and start talking to a caterer right at the beginning. Let them guide you based on the information you give them and the experience they have. It may be that you aren’t sure of the number of guests, the type of food, or the overall budget at your disposal. In that case, talking to someone who can make recommendations and suggestions can certainly do no harm.

Betta Party Hire has been happily serving Melbourne residents for many years.  If you require event planning services or equipment, including such items as furniture for hire, dance floor staging or lighting, feel free to reach out to us with any questions. We can be reached at 1300 472 793. We look forward to hearing from you and helping to plan your next big event!

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