The Best Questions to Ask a Caterer About the Menu & Service

“And the food was amazing too!”

This is one the greatest compliments a host will receive after an event.  We think it’s important to be informed when you are interviewing a caterer for a special event.   So, join us for our blog series with useful  insights into the world of catering.  We hope that our suggestions will help increase the odds of hearing these wonderful words after your celebration ~ “And the food was amazing too”

Appetizer Tray Pass Blog 2 CropAppetizers can be tray passed by servers or displayed on stations so guests can help themselves.

Questions to Ask a Caterer 

The Basic Info

  • Will you provide an onsite coordinator who will manage entire event from start to finish? Or will you hand-off my event to a banquet captain that will have to come to me if there are questions?
  • Have your preferred event date in mind but also be flexible with a range or alternate dates – many caterers offer reduced pricing for events held on days other than Saturday or Sunday.
  • How many event do you cater per year? How long have you been in business?
  • Have you done events at my location?  Note:If you haven’t chosen your venue yet, ask the caterer if they can help you select one.
  • Are you licensed by the state of California? Are you licensed to serve alcohol?
  • Will I need any permits for my event? If so, will you handle obtaining them?
  • Can you assist with other aspects of the event planning like selecting other vendors, event design (i.e. specialty lighting, décor, theme, etc.)?

The Food

  • Given my budget, guest count and event style, what food choices would you recommend? Do you specialize in certain cuisines?
  • Do we have to work off a preset menu or can you create a custom menu for our event? If I have a special dish I’d like served, would you accommodate that?
  • Do you use all fresh produce, meat, fish, etc.? Can you source organic or sustainably farmed ingredients?
  • How do you accommodate dietary restrictions, such as kosher, vegan, etc.?
  • Are you able to create theme menus?

Filet Mignon Blog 1Depending on the style of your event, the caterer can serve a formal, plated meal or a casual buffet service.

  • What’s the difference in cost between tray passed hors d’oeuvres and stations? How many actual hors d’oeuvres per person will you serve?
  • What’s the price difference between a buffet and a sit-down, plated meal?
  • Do you hold plated meals in a warming unit or plate to order?
  • What do you charge for children’s meals?
  • What do you charge for vendor meals?
  • Do you make wedding cakes? If so, is this included in the per-person meal price?
  • Can we do a dessert display instead of a cake?
  • If we provide our own cake, do you charge a cake-cutting fee?
  • Do you do food tastings and is there an extra charge for this? Note: Be aware that anyone can create a great meal for one or two people. It’s the ability to feed an entire gathering that really matters.  So, when discussing your menu and a tasting, make sure so discuss where the food will be prepared, how it will be transported, is the food at my tasting going to be prepared and presented in similar fashion?  You want your caterer to recreate the banquet experience as closely as possible in order to understand and “taste” what you will be getting the day of your event.

Up next on “Questions to Ask a Caterer” blog series ~

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