The holidays are approaching, and as you put together the biggest bash of the year, you’ll likely need to hire a caterer. We absolutely recommend the usual discussions, such as budget, menu and references. There are also other considerations that you might miss, so the team at Mission Restaurant Supply has scoured the web to put together a list of seven discussions you probably haven’t covered.
Food Safety and Allergies
Making sure your event has safe food should be top priority. Your caterer should be employing standards that meet the health department’s guidelines so make sure you ask them how they uphold these standards.
Hosting an event in the modern world means making allowances for your guests who have allergies to everything from gluten to peanuts and food dyes. According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), it is estimated that 15 million Americans have a food allergy. If you know you have guests with food allergies, check with your caterer to find out how they guard against accidental exposure and contamination.
Access to H2O and Electricity
Especially if you’re hosting an outdoor event, make sure you and your caterer are on the same page for access to essentials. Knowing ahead of time how much voltage is needed can help plan the event in a way that keeps you from having extension cords stretched across the main walkway or food prep screeching to a halt when water access is limited.
If you need to limit electricity, have the caterer prepare food inside and use a chafing dish to keep food warm.
According to BIZBASH, you should know where your food comes from. With the local food movement continuing to increase in popularity, it will be something to note if your caterer uses local farms, organically locally grown produce, or specialty foods.
Several sources cite tipping as one of the hardest but most important discussions to have with your caterer. Some companies will include the tips in their cost, but others will leave it the host to tip the service staff. Knowing this upfront will not only allow you to treat the staff fairly and avoid potentially awkward moments during the event, it will also allow you to budget the full cost of the event.
If you plan on serving alcohol at the event, make sure to discuss the details. The Washington Post suggests buying your own alcohol to save money. Also don’t forget to make sure that the servers meet state requirements for age, licensing, and training to legally serve your guests alcohol. Also discuss with your caterer the plan should one of your guests get out of hand and need to be denied further service.
Making arrangements for leftovers in advance can make clean up much easier. Consider donating to a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Knowing what you’ll do with any extra food in advance allows you to make sure you have the proper storage containers. Remember to determine if the catering staff will be packing up the extra food or if that will be left up to you to arrange.
Contract and Contingency
Another difficult but essential discussion is the contract. Make sure both parties agree to every detail (read the fine print) before signing. Also include a section in the contract for what happens if you are not satisfied with the service provided. Having a detailed contract that is signed by both parties could save you time, stress, and money in the long run.
Make sure you can get along with your caterer as you will have to be dealing with them when you’re both stressed. Once you’ve arranged all the details of your event, sit back and enjoy your party!