Let’s face it, most of us have attended an event and been left disappointed when after looking forward to sampling some tasty gourmet food we were met instead with cold, soggy or dried out fodder.
Managing catering takes a bit of expertise to ensure a seamless delivery. Don’t put a bad taste in the mouth of the guests at your next function. Here are some of our top tips on catering with style for your next event.
- Do get the numbers right. Make sure you have an accurate estimate of the number of guests you need to cater for. It’s probably the most essential part of planning and ensures you get the best possible value for your catering budget. There is nothing worse than under catering and having guests go hungry. Likewise it is wasted money to go overboard and over cater. And don’t forget, someone has to dispose of the leftovers!
- Do consider dietary needs. Create a number of menu options to cater to meat eaters, vegetarians, gluten-free guests and those with other special requirements. You won’t always get advance notice and, by accommodating for all guests, you won’t make people feel like they’re an imposition.
- Do think about seasonal options. Shopping in season will ensure you are getting the freshest and tastiest food options. It also helps to keep catering costs down.
- Do support local trade and shop locally where you can. It’s a great way to give something back and helps to anchor your event with a sense of community.
- Do ensure you have created the menu to suit the event, venue and time of day. There’s no point serving breakfast foods at dinner time and vice versa. If you are serving a buffet you will need enough venue space for guests to be able to carry full plates around the tables. There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck with a plate of food you need to eat with knife and fork and nowhere to sit! So for cocktail events where guests will be standing be sure to supply finger foods only.
- Do make sure you employ enough staff for the smooth distribution of food at the perfect temperature. Well-presented, polite and efficient staff put guests at ease as well as clearing tables, cleaning and removing rubbish.
- Don’t leave food lying around outside of fridges. Events rarely run exactly to a prescribed time schedule and you don’t want to risk anyone contracting food poisoning.
- Don’t bombard the guests by sending out all the food out at once. It is important to send the food out at timely intervals to give people time to enjoy it. Let them savour the flavours, and the company of other guests!
- Don’t prepare and cook the food earlier than it needs to be. Hot foods should be served hot. Cooking too early can make the tastiest food unappetising. You wouldn’t want the food at your event described as over-cooked, dried out or cold and congealed.
- Don’t leave empty food trays and glasses on tables. Pay attention to the appearance of the room and make it as easy as possible for your guests to move around and mingle without worrying about which glass or plate is theirs. Plus accidental spills are much less likely on an uncluttered surface!
- Don’t allow yzour staff to be inappropriate with the guests. They are there to serve the food and drinks, not to socialise. Encourage them to be considerate and efficient and treat all guests with respect.
While catering an event isn’t rocket science, it does take skill, planning and attention to detail to pull off it off with style. For larger events, it can be easier to plan with an event organiser who can take care of some of these details for you.
Sometimes things go wrong, so if all else fails… keep your sense of humour, do a local pizza run and give your guests something to talk about!
What are your top catering do’s and don’ts? We’d love to hear about them and any stories from your own experience!
Author bio: Anna Johnson works in PR and marketing and specialises in working with clients in the hospitality and event management industries. Anna takes a great interest in everything marketing, social media and internet related and enjoys sharing her knowledge on these subjects. You can follow Anna on Twitter @AnnaO_T