Tips On Catering Events
Event caterers prepare and transport food to your events. Find out how to prepare a menu and the best methods to serve catered food at your event.
Hosting an event is not an easy process. You have many responsibilities, such as picking out a venue, sending out guest lists and preparing food. Even with a small event, you can save a great deal of time by hiring a catering service. A catering service provides food for events. While they are commonly associated with formal events, such as corporate fundraisers and weddings, you can hire catering services for local events as well. Large birthday celebrations, family reunions or graduation parties are all examples of smaller events that benefit from a caterer.
There are many catering services to choose from. While many catering services only provide and distribute food during your event, others take a more active role in planning your event. This includes searching for a venue, decoration and even sending out invitations. Other catering services act as intermediaries, working with local food providers to get food to your event. The costs greatly vary depending on the services as well as the type of event. Most services charge based on the number of guests. On average, you can expect $50 to $100 per guest.
Benefits of Hiring Catering Services
The biggest advantage of hiring a catering service is convenience. Preparing food for a large group of people is difficult under the best of circumstances, but it becomes even more challenging if you have other hosting responsibilities. Catering services are not only trained to prepare meals for large crowds, but they can make multiple options to address all your guests dietary needs.
Catering services also have all the necessary equipment to safely store and transport your food to the venue. They are experienced enough to ask questions you may not think about, such as whether any guests have allergies that requires food to be separated. Once you have a venue, the service can make recommendations on where to set up food stations.
If you have no idea what types of food to serve, catering services can provide a menu of their specialty items. They will also work closely within your needs. Once you tell the service your budget, the caterers will design a menu around how much you want to spend. Catering services do not skimp on ingredients, but they get superior deals because they buy in bulk and have local connections with food providers. In many cases, you end up paying less for a catering service than if you tried to prepare the meals all on your own.
Before you start planning a menu, it is important to figure out how you want to serve the food. Most catering services recommend four ways to present food. If you are hosting a longer event where guests are free to move through the venue, consider using a buffet option. During a buffet, large tables are set up throughout the venue. Guests can get up from their tables and select food as needed. Depending on the length of your event, the catering service may change meals, going from lunch options to dinner. Towards the end of the event, they can also set up dessert options.
If you are hosting a smaller event, like a graduation party, consider family style catering. Family style catering is similar to a buffet since guests have the option to get their own food. Instead of setting out buffet tables, caterers bring smaller food dishes directly to each of the tables.
If you are hosting a fancier event and want to impress your guests, food stations are excellent options. At a food station, the caterers directly prepare meals for your guests. Some common examples of food station include pasta or omelet stations, as well as meat carving. Guests have greater control over their meals with food stations, which is good for pickier eaters.
The most formal events use plated catered meals. With this option, your guests place an order in advance. The catering staff individually prepares each dish, bringing it out during the appropriate time. If you are hosting a longer event, there may be multiple plates available. Because this is the most expensive option, it is often limited to a single meal, typically dinner.
Breakfast Catering Foods
Breakfast catering is often overlooked during event planning. While many events take place during the afternoon or evening, longer events benefit from breakfast catering. If you are on a budget, planning an earlier event is often a good way to save on costs. There are several drinks that go well with breakfast catering, including coffee, tea, orange juice or smoothies. For food, waffles, pancakes, eggs and bagels are all popular choices. You can also offer fruit and yogurt for side items. Crepes and breakfast cakes are excellent options for more celebratory events.
Lunch Catering Foods
Lunch is often the most complicated meal to cater for because there are so many options. With drinks, coffee is still an option, but you also want juices or sodas for your guests. If it is later in the day and a more formal event, a bar may be appropriate. This is especially common at weddings. For side dishes, salads are a popular choice. You can either prepare plated salads or set up a salad bar. For the main dish, sandwiches or barbeque food are both good options for a less formal event. In a more formal setting, pasta and chicken dishes are popular choices. Pizza is another option for both formal and relaxed events. It can also be served in a buffet style or prepared at food stations.
Dinner Catering Foods
Dinner uses many of the same beverages as lunch, but bars are more common. If you are hosting a work or graduation event, you may want to skip this option. Some parties settle for cocktails at the table instead. Soups and salads are good side meals. Food skewers are also a popular option At larger event, it’s a good idea to bring these out first, then call guests up by table to access food stations or buffet tables. Chicken, fish and steak are all common main course meals. If you know your guests do not mind it, you can also consider serving sushi.
Top Catering Services
Finding the right catering service can be a challenge. You want to take the time to look at multiple menus and find the best company for your event. If there’s a local restaurant you enjoy, ask if they provide catering services. Most catering services are limited to specific cities. Larger services may be available state wide, but do not have locations outside of the home state. However, there are several websites you can use to search for local catering services in your area, including: