Parties are supposed to be fun events for all involved, but anyone who’s ever thrown a party knows that parties are often more work and stress for the host than fun and frolic. Aside from the pre-party planning and logistics, there’s the endless list of things that need to be managed while the party unfolds – everything from working the room to make sure your guests all feel welcomed and appreciated to filling drinks and managing coats and bags.
One of the simplest ways to save you a lot of trouble is to hire a catering company to provide the victuals, which simultaneously solves your food preparation, serving, and clean-up problems. As with any other vendor, of course, there are plenty of things to consider when looking for a caterer for your party.
What Kind of Event Is It?
The starting place for determining which caterer is right for you is knowing what kind of party you’re throwing. Is it a casual get-together with friends? A formal dinner party for the boss? Indoors, outdoors, in your home or in a rented space? Will a kitchen be required, and will one of appropriate size and outfitting be available? All of these basic questions need to be firmly answered before you can go ahead and choose a caterer. If it’s a personal celebration – a birthday, for example – you’ll likely have specific menu items you’ll need present. If it’s a holiday celebration, there are probably traditional foods you’d like to have included. Know what you need to have on the menu before you started calling caterers.
What Will You Need the Caterer to Provide?
At its most basic level, this question asks whether you need the caterer to just bring trays of food that can be left over a burner or if you need servers, place settings, and utensils. If you’re planning a casual party like a birthday celebration with finger foods, make sure the caterer you choose can provide staff to serve the crowd. If you need a hall to be completely set up with tables and tablecloths and centerpieces as well as place settings – for a wedding reception, perhaps – make sure your caterer of choice can provide all of those items for the number of people you’ve invited.
What Do They Specialize In?
A good way to choose a caterer is to find out what their specialties are. Are they considerably proud of their hors d’oeuvres, or do they chat up their Chicken Paprikash? While the tried and true of catering – filet mignon, steamed veggies, bacon-wrapped scallops and the like – never fail, sometimes a fun theme makes a party memorable – mini cheeseburgers, or macaroni and cheese. Seek a caterer that offers an interesting, modern menu instead of more traditional fare.
Once you’ve narrowed down your prospective caterers with these questions, it’s time to make some calls, and ask the serious questions:
You’ve got a budget in mind. Before you go any further, make sure they can accommodate it.
Are They Available?
This might seem obvious, but before you start negotiating about the price, make sure they’re available on the date of your party.
What Kinds of Finishes?
Just because they claim to supply place settings and utensils doesn’t mean they’re the right fit. There’s a big difference between plastic forks and silverware.
Can You View Their Health Inspection? Can You Attend an Event They are Catering? Can You Arrange a Sample Tasting?
The answer to all of these questions should be an easy yes. If they balk at any of these suggestions, ask why. If you’re not satisfied with their answers, move on to the next one on your list.
Following these simple suggestions, you’ll be guaranteed to have a great catering experience. Always keep in mind that it’s about what you want at your celebration, not what the caterer can provide!
Scott McCallum is the owner of the Glasgow catering company Georgie Porgies. He started the company over 12 years ago and they continue to be a success across Glasgow and the surrounding areas.