Tips for Successful Catering Event
To give your guests a truly awesome experience, there are a number of factors you need to consider to make the event extra special. Whether you’re a first-time event planner and events manager or an old hand at putting together catered menu events, it’s important to consider every step to ensure excellent service, food, and beverages. The following checklist can help you ensure a successful corporate or social event.
Who’s on Your Guest List
The guest list for a catered event can range from a small gathering of friends to a large gathering of professional business people. Knowing what type of event and who is attending is the first step to a successful catering event. What is the makeup of the guests invited to the event? Many business people attend a lot of conferences and social events throughout the year and get tired of eating the same old mediocre food. In order to have your catered event stand out, consider the following when planning the menu with your caterer:
Lay out the basics about your event and guests. By taking the following list into consideration, we’ll be able to tailor a menu that will please your guests.
-How formal or informal will the event be?
-How much time will guests have to eat?
-How often do your guests attend events like the one you’re planning?
Are your guests coming in from out of town or are they based locally?
What is the ethnic makeup of your guests and their backgrounds?
-Do your guests have dietary restrictions such as gluten intolerance, restrict dairy, or are they vegetarian?
-What type of event are you holding (A health and wellness event may require more seafood and vegetarian options in a catering menu.)
Consider Offering Several Alternative Menus. Once you’ve done your best to tailor the catering event menu to your guest’s food preferences, you will need to offer several appetizer, buffet, and entrée choices to ensure that all guests will be able to enjoy the meal and the event. Here are some general guidelines to consider when planning your catering menu.
– Offer more than one choice of entrées. That way both the meat lover and vegetarian are pleased with their meals.
– Offer at least two salad dressing options for salad courses
-When possible, allow guests to add their condiments separately
– Offer a choice of two desserts, one rich (dark chocolate is always a hit), one for the health-conscious.
-Consider Special Dietary Needs such as
Food allergies such as lactose intolerance, nut allergies, etc.
Food Intolerances such as gluten for guests with Celiac Disease Voluntary dietary restrictions such as vegetarianism or veganism
Up the Ante with Foods that Fit Your Theme
Planning a catered menu event with a specific ethnic or international cuisine is a great way to engage your guests and treat them to a unique catered menu experience. We can work together to bring regional and international foods to your event, making the catered event stand out from the standard chicken dinners usually served. Some of the most popular ethnic catering menus are Asian/Chinese/Japanese, Mexican, Greek, and Italian. They aren’t just different catering event menu options, but also can be more versatile when planning a menu for people with food restrictions.
Plan a Service Style that Fits the Event Timing: Someone once said “Timing is everything.” This is especially true when determining the menu and meal service for a catered event. It’s important to choose the type of meal and menu options that best suit the allotted time your guests have for the meal or event. If your guests only have a limited time for breakfast or lunch, box meals and lunches are the best choice for meals of 30 minutes or guests on-the-go. Catered buffet meals usually are completed in about 1 hour and allow guests to pick and choose the food items that they will enjoy. When planning a sit-down or plated catered event meal, allow at least 1 ½ to 2 hours for full meal service. Cocktail catering receptions require a minimum of 1 hour before dinner to allow guests to mingle and enjoy the food and beverages. Corporate working breakfasts or lunches require food menu items that can hold up for longer periods of time without ruining the integrity of the food.
Ensure Guests will be Seated Appropriately: You’ve chosen your catered event venue, now it’s time to coordinate the appropriate room layout that supports your guests’ comfort, the event’s objectives, and the meals. For instance, if you’re managing a corporate working meal, make sure the tables have plenty of room for the dishes, glasses, and cutlery as well as any work binders, notepads, and pens. If you’re holding a separate cocktail reception, remember that smaller round cocktail tables handle smaller plates and drinks and provide more room for guests to mix and mingle. Create a room diagram and map out the flow of traffic, not only for your guests but also for the catering event staff to move freely and ensure enough space for people to move as needed. Try to set up fewer guests even if a table can seat more. This allows your guests to spread out and relax or work better. Corporate boardrooms are usually smaller, so setup should be for a maximum of 15 guests. Rectangular and U-shaped table configurations promote discussions and collaboration, but are less suitable for buffet meals. Consider a boxed lunch for this type of catered event. Presentations set up classroom-style leave room for guests to enjoy a buffet or snack stations. Banquet style promotes small group discussions
Presentation is everything. When food is beautifully presented, your guests will be dying to try it. No matter the type of event or style of catering menu you have chosen, it’s important to work with your event planner and caterer to ensure the food is colorful, has pretty garnishes, the plates are clean, and the food smells appetizing. Your guests should see beautifully catered food and want to eat it. This means everything from crisp and clean linens, cutlery, and glassware along with complementary decorations.
Feeling overwhelmed? Take a deep breathe. We’re here to help. We’re happy to walk through all these questions with you – and guide you based on our wide range of experience with many venues, guests and menus – we’ve got you covered!