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Questions to Ask Your Caterer

When planning catered events in Cleveland Ohio, it is always important to do your homework and interview your potential caterers in detail. Since the food you serve at your event is one of the most important factors in determining your event’s success, this is one area you definitely want to get right! Below, you will find ten catering questions that will help you find the best caterer for your event.

1. What types of foods do you specialize in?
Almost all caterers have signature appetizers, main course dishes, and desserts. Many may also specialize in certain styles of food such as Asian, Greek, French, American country classic, gourmet, fusion, or barbecue. Finding out their specialties and what foods they are passionate about can ensure you get truly memorable food at your event. This question will also help you determine if the potential caterer is a good match for your event.

2. Can you provide samples of the food you prepare before we hire you?
If you are hiring catering for a big event, this is a very reasonable request and will give you a much better idea if the caterer is a good fit. When scheduling a food tasting be sure to take along at least one or two other people to help sample and provide opinions. Remember that the food items that you are tasting may not be the actual items being served at your event. You are tasting for quality of ingredients and preparation.

3. What type of catering do you typically do?
As you listen to the response the potential caterer gives for this question, be sure to ask followup questions so you can really get a good sense of what type(s) of catering they are most comfortable providing. Some caterers will have more expertise in catering large scale events while others will have more experience with more intimate affairs like family get-togethers and small office parties.

4. Do you make your food from scratch or use prepared products such as frozen pastry shells or pre-made sauces?
When you are hiring catering, you obviously want to have food that is off the charts good. Food made from scratch from fresh ingredients is always better than frozen foods and/or commercially prepared pre-made foods.

5. Can you provide special meals and/or items for guests on a special diet?
If you are planning a big catered event, you may want to be sensitive to the fact that many people are on special diets for health or religious reasons. In order to accommodate these guests, you may want your caterer to provide options like low sodium, gluten-free, sugar-free, vegetarian and vegan.

6. Do you, or can you, provide tables, table linens, chairs, silverware, plates, glasses, wait staff, and coordination on the day of the event?
Some caterers deliver the food, set it up, and leave. Others can provide much more if you need them to for a large event. It is important to explore these options with each potential caterer to determine exactly what they can and cannot provide and to determine exactly what is included in the price they are quoting you.

7. How do you protect the food and/or modify recipes/menu if the food will be served outdoors?
It can get really hot and humid in Cleveland, Ohio. Therefore, if you are planning an outdoor event, this is a really important question to ask. You don’t want your guests getting food poisoning. You also don’t want your food “melting” in the sun or insects landing on it.

8. Can we bring our own side dishes?
With the exception of wedding cakes, many caterers will not allow outside prepared foods to be placed on their buffets. This is for a number of reasons. Food items that are not prepared by the caterer should never be a representation of the caterer. Proper preparation and transportation of food items is critical in the safety of catering. The food that someone brings may not be enough to serve all of the guests making it appear that your caterer did not bring plenty for all. Also the food may taste bad! You can discuss bring n food with your caterer. Separate buffet stations can be used for candy buffets, pastry stations, appetizers or traditional family dishes.

9. Can you provide references?

When inquiring about references, don’t be surprised to hear no. Although customer references may seem like a reasonable request it requires giving out personal contact information that many people do not feel safe doing in this day and age. A great alternative is to do an internet search for reviews on a caterer that you are considering.

10. Do you have a business license and a liquor license?
If a caterer has a business license, this usually means they are regulated by the health department and you can check to see if there have been any complaints against them. If there are no complaints, you this will give you more confidence in their ability to do the job well. In most cases as long as the customer is supplying the liquor the caterers bartenders can serve it.  Some venues require the that the caterer have a mobile liquor license. Be sure to ask the halls manager their policy.

Good luck with your event and bon appétit!


You may also be interested in:
Ways to work with your caterer to make your party planning a better experience

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