Need tips for Corporate Party? Read our blog.
But don’t believe that by hiring a chef for catering service will miraculously make your event perfect. It will help with improving the vibe but you need to make sure that the professional has everything he or she needs to make the magic happen! Only then you will have an exquisite party or event, and you can count on everyone being satisfied.
To make it easier for you, if it’s the first time taking care of a big event, we’ve prepared a few steps that will help you have the best event in town.
Lists, lists, lists
Writing down lists with everything you need for the event is a very good way of keeping yourself organised, and not missing out the important aspects. Make sure to have a checklist ready before even thinking about the catering service. Because to get a fit service, you’ll have to know what the service is for. So write down everything, from the date and time of the event, location and setting (if you will have a chef maybe even write down the tools and kitchen equipment that will be available, including the refrigerator), number of people who will attend the event as well as their food preferences, if any. It would be a shame to go through all the trouble of having a personal chef, and still missing out on providing some treats for the vegans or vegetarians at the party.
And last but not least, make a list of the services you want to be provided for the party. This way the caterer will know if they should also help you set up the food, and, nevertheless, if the chef will be “on display” or at the back in the kitchen. Most importantly, prepare a list with the dishes you would like to be served – the menu of the event.
Keep in mind that it’s an event that will last for a couple of hours, so dishes that take too long to prepare may not be the most practical thing to have. Unless you want to keep your guests starving, have the food ready for them to enjoy.
Prepare an estimated budgetThe budget is always the most important thing when it comes to planning. Depending on it, you can choose the location, services offered and menu, as well as the setting up and other related expenses. If you plan your budget right, you can make the most of it. That's why it's important to know how much you are willing to put into the food section.
After you’ve settled that you can decide the number of courses, the sizes, as well as how many desserts or snacks you can include. Don’t forget that having a personal chef might also add to these expenses and that you have to have a rough estimate of what services you require, to know what type of chef would be the best fit for your event.
You get what you paid for.
This means that if you want to have a high-quality service for your event, you must be ready to include some extra bucks in the budget. This means including the cost for various services such as set up and break down, as well as the staff. The best thing to do is to have a one-on-one talk with the caterer to let them know what your expectations are and what fees they may include. This way you can also negotiate certain prices if you're using the same caterer for all the services needed for the event. It's more practical to collaborate with only one company, instead of splitting the tasks and having different people handling different services. This can create a gap of information which will be time-consuming and stressful for you.
Do your researchDon't expect the first caterer to offer you the perfect options for your party. Even if it may sound like the best fit, you should still take it with a grain of salt. Search for more caterers, adapt your budget and your needs and see which can offer the most flexibility when it comes to making your event a great experience.
Usually, if you stop after the first offer, you may miss out on certain details or be extra charged. Unless it’s someone you constantly work with, you should always go for a second and a third offer. Make sure you’re making the right choice.
A good indicator of the right caterer is talking with someone who not only records the list of needs and does the math for the price, but someone who seems to find the best choices and comes up with fit solutions for your requirements. A person who is interested in making your event a success, and not just ticking some boxes on a list is what you should be looking for. You want a caterer who likes the job and will be involved in the preparation and development of the event, and who gives you confidence that everything is in good hands. By keeping this in mind it will be easy to narrow it down to the perfect caterer for the job.
Make sure there will be flexibility
When organising something that involves a lot of people both attending and helping with the preparations, you will most certainly have a lot of unexpected and unplanned situations to deal with. This is why you should pick a caterer willing to adapt to your last minute needs and will be able to deal with your special requirements.No matter how well an event is planned, the risk of last-minute changes is always there, and you should discuss any situation that may come up with the caterer, to have a set of alternatives, in case something happens. Whether if it’s about special dietary requirements or last-minute issues with the setting up, you should check if your caterer is willing to accommodate such changes for you. Otherwise, a non-flexible work-frame might end up in having unhappy guests who will feel left out. Also, keep in mind that the number of guests might be either smaller or higher than what has been projected. People always take last-minute decisions when it comes to attending an event so this should also be a discussion point with your caterer.
Let’s talk about the menuIt’s important to make sure your menu includes options for the attendants. You wouldn’t want to have the only vegan at the party eating a poorly made salad for the entire night. Another way of preparing the menu is by checking out the caterer's specialities first. You can get some inspiration from that, and you also know the caterer can provide great dishes when following those recipes.
Make sure your menu is adapted to your budget. This is particularly important to make sure you cover all the needs and not overspend. Also, don't forget to match the service options for your needs. If what you're aiming for is a cocktail party, you wouldn't want any heavy foods served. On the other hand, if it's a full-day event, you must make sure to prepare the menu accordingly, as the last thing you want is guests that are starving and not focusing on the event.
Another thing you can do is to try some samples. This way you can get a taste not only of the food but also of the way it will be served, getting to meet also the chef in the process. Sampling will help you get an overall idea of how flexible both the caterer and the chef are regarding the menu and menu changes, as well as seeing their general attitude towards taking care of your event. And last but not least, it will give you a chance to see how fresh the food is. You could also mention the option of you providing the ingredients if that makes you feel better. But this may involve some extra planning and spending more time in preparation.
Get to know the team
The two most important people you need to constantly keep in touch with during the planning of your event is the main planner and the chef. But it’s important to also get to know the rest of the team working on it. How many waiters there will be, what previous experience they have and so on. You wouldn’t want to have a team of unprofessional staff who will not be able to deliver. Your image is very important, and no matter how good the food is or how well everything is planned, one rude waiter can ruin the whole experience for your guests. This is why it’s good to meet the whole team before hiring them or even before the actual event for briefing.
You must also keep in mind that if the number of staff members is too low, they may not be able to properly attend to your guests. This will lead to frustration on both sides. You wouldn’t want to have a queue of 20 people waiting to get drinks from the bar, or meals being served cold to the guests, 20 minutes later.
The proper fit is two servers for every 30 guests when it comes to a buffet; one bartender and one bar-back person for every fifty guests, with additional bartenders if you have other special drink stations; and for the sit-down meals, one waiter per table of eight. And don’t forget to make sure everything is organised. You wouldn’t want waiters running around not knowing from where to pick up the food or where to deliver it. This is the caterer’s task, but it is worth knowing the arrangements yourself so that you could help in planning if need be.
After planning the menu, and the staff, you must also keep an eye on how the food will be served. During the sampling, you should pay extra attention to how the staff is bringing you the food and how the whole process looks from the outside. If you want a professional event, you need to have professionals serving. Be sure to check out the outfits of the staff, see if they are clean and neat. Also make sure to pay attention to the gestures, how they pour the drinks and set the plate on the table. An extra smile would also be delightful if you want to be sure your guests will feel comfortable. Though the job of a waiter may seem easy, professional serving is an art and it takes some skills to be pleasant and graceful while doing it.
A different approach is needed when preparing food live stations. This means having professional chefs taking on the spot orders from the guests, and preparing the food live. It's a new and entertaining idea if you want to have some extra flexibility and fun during the event. You can contact Circle Café for professional catering that also offers this option. It comes together with a professional menu and some of the most interesting aesthetics that will make your event successful. Whether it’s a corporate party or a wedding, you can be rest assured that having a personal chef will keep your guests happy and entertained. Just make sure to pick the right caterer.
Last catering touches
Before sealing the deal with what you consider to be the perfect caterer for your event, there is still one more thing to check. Make sure the ones in charge of providing these services have current insurance and the proper licensing accreditations for liquor and food distribution. You wouldn't want to work with some shady company that will end up making you pay more for unwanted consequences that you were not aware of in the beginning.
After you make sure everything is in order, you can go ahead and ask for the quotation. Make sure you check for every little detail and hidden fees that may be involved, and you take an informed decision. The last thing you need is extra fees after the event for something you didn’t expect. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for extra clarifications when it comes to pricing. After all, you’ll be the one paying and you need to know where your money will go.
And nevertheless, read the fine print. Preparing a big event with special catering and services is no easy task. You want to make sure you know all the details of the contract and everything that the costs involved, before signing it. Don’t be fooled by what you may have talked about in person with the caterer. You must make sure every detail and cost is written on the final contract, and everything about the catering process is crystal clear.
Planning big events can be quite challenging and stressful, but with the right catering company, it can turn into a great success. And nothing is more rewarding than knowing you’ve planned a great event that people will talk about for weeks. That's why we encourage you to be bold and dare to do things differently.
Catering Service Near You
Circle Café can give your event a little twist. Food is not only tasty but also fun. And having a live chef is an entertaining (and tempting) way for your guests to wait for their food. You also have a lot of options to choose from our customisable menu – from platters to salads, mains and desserts.
Contact us and for your catering requirements to turn your event into a memorable experience!