Picking The Perfect Caterer
The idea of having to choose some one to cater an event is enough to make a lot of people dizzy but the reality is that it is not that bad. You really have only one problem and that is that it is just as easy to hire a bad caterer as it is a great one. You do not need to worry, however, if you just keep a couple of things in mind. If you follow these guidelines you will be able to pull off a seamless event that everyone enjoys and you won't go through it with a knot in your stomach.
Your greatest challenge is to know what you want and what you will need from them. Get recommendations from friends and coworkers and do a little research on them. Then simply make appointments with the top candidates and interview each of them. Go in with your list of what you are looking for and what they can do. Even caterers don't always have EVERTHING in-house but they do know where to get what they need or where to find what you are looking for. This is where timing comes into play.
This important part of picking the right caterer is also the simplest. Don't wait until the last minute to find one but plan ahead and book them early. The food will be the easy part for them. The logistics are a whole different matter. They are going to need to know how many plates, chaffing dishes, glasses, table clothes, napkins, staff, etc, to put aside for your event. Buy booking early you are first on the list.
The food is a matter that needs to be considered separately when you are choosing the caterer. That is said because different foods take different professional skills. You might choose one caterer to cater BBQ and another for chicken cordon blue. Use you best judgment and taste.
The most important part of choosing a caterer is the last part, the contract. It is the paper that spells out exactly what they are responsible for. It will include the dates (there is more than one because there will be the date of the event but also one for the final head count), the menu, place, time, and all other things that need to be agreed ed upon. The contract is the glue that holds the whole event together so make sure it is detailed and accurate. The ball is now in their court so you can relax (often easier said than done.)
On a final note, don't forget about the left overs. It is almost a sure thing that there will be some so think ahead about what to do with them. Many people choose to leave them for the service staff but sometime people take a little extra home with them. Try to make sure that very little gets wasted.