How to Pick a Good Caterer

Regardless of the event you are preparing for, choosing a good caterer is important. But how can you find a good catering service, and how do you compare your options?


If you’re not that experienced when it comes to catering services, you’ll have to start from scratch. Ask people around you for referrals, and read online reviews about local caterers (just make sure to stick to reputable consumer websites where reviews are generally authentic). You can also ask the management at your event venue if they can recommend caterers whom they have worked with in the past.


Prior to hiring a caterer, be sure you have seen their kitchen. The overall environment should be clean, free from foul odors, and professional in general. Otherwise, you have a catering staff that takes no real pride or interest in their job – and one you ought to avoid.


There are various types of caterers, which only means that not all of them are good for you. Talk to your prospective caterer about menu ideas, and be sure to mention any dietary restrictions to be observed (for example, a guest or guests having food allergies). You should enjoy the event instead of worrying about your guests.


If you’re unsure about the number of people you will need for the event, check out the cheat sheet below:

Buffet – two servers/thirty guests For a big group, be ready with two or three extra runners for clearing dishes and restocking chafing options.

Sit-Down Dinner – one server per table of eight, plus servers for the drinks

Bar Staff – one bartender/one bar-back per fifty guests If you plan to have specialty drink stations, have additional bartenders on hand.

Keep in mind that to ensure a smooth flow of services during the event, you will need a captain of service for each group of six staff members.

Your Input

You may only want to outline a menu and let the caterer decide on everything else, as long as he produces the results you want. Still, you have to work closely with your chosen caterer throughout the event.

Menu Tasting

As you may know, this is yet another crucial part of picking a good caterer. Whether you or the caterer created the menu, they need to seek your final approval, but only after you have sampled each item on it prior to the actual event.


Be clear about how much you are willing to spend for catering, and ensure that the quote already covers the caterer’s full service, such as set up, break down, and all concerns about staffing. Finally, confirm with the caterer that there will be no hidden or additional fees and costs before signing the contract.

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