How to Choose the Best Event Catering Service Professionals
The best event catering service professionals will ease your catering worries and help make your event a success. It might seem like a good idea to scrounge and save, but, if you’ve ever hosted an event before, you’ll know that it’s an extremely stressful situation. A catering service can allow you to let loose and enjoy the party without having to worry about things. You’ll have time to mingle with the guests and, if it’s a work event, accomplish what you need to accomplish.
With a catering service, you are assured efficiency and quality. Fully developed menus are available for you to choose from that will satisfy any palate. Indian, Chinese, Western cuisines, and many more, can be catered for, as well as special dietary requirements like vegetarianism or allergies.
Trained professionals will handle all your food-related logistics, including sending the required equipment and staff, and producing the right amount of top-quality food, arranged enticingly to tempt your guests. They will keep an eye on the table and handle refills, ensuring the night is a success. At the event wrap, they will also handle the clean up. It just makes sense to leave it to the professionals.
What Does Event Catering Include?
The event caterer takes care of organising your event, including the food; the preparation, the menu, the delivery, the equipment, the service and the cleaning. A typical full-catering service looks like this:
* You will meet with the caterer to discuss the menu requirements, staffing, scheduling, presentation, clean-up and contract.
* The caterer will do the preliminary sourcing of specialty produce, if required, and reserve rentals like tables, chairs, dishware and even lighting.
* You will be presented with a contract to review, which you should discuss with the caterer again to iron out the details.
* On the day, the catering team will come to the venue a few hours before the event to set up and start food preparation, if required.
* Throughout the event, the captain will coordinate with the wait staff as well as any other services to run a smooth event for you. The staff will serve and clear as required, tending to guests needs.
* The catering team will clear and clean, dispose of garbage, coordinate rental pickups and ensure the venue is in pristine order.
How Do I Choose a Suitable Catering Service Professional?
* Referrals and Experience
If a catering service is well-run, you will barely notice their presence and things will seem to magically flow. Think back to a particularly well-run event that you’ve attended, or ask for your friends or family’s positive experiences. Visit review sites and examine the reviews and ratings of catering services at the top of your search engine. Even better, try to reach out to customers who have previous experience.
* Are They Suitable For Your Event?
First of all, check if the caterer is familiar with the venue where you plan to hold your event. It would be disastrous if you end up having barbeque-style service in a banquet hall or a fine dining service at an outdoor venue. It’s good to know that the caterer is familiar what the rules and regulations of serving in the particular setting.
Also ask very specific questions about the caterer’s services and outline your needs very clearly at the initial meeting so that you can ascertain whether they can actually cater to your needs. Caterers are rarely jacks of all trade and tend to excel in certain events over others. Some do better with smaller, more intimate events, and some are better with large affairs.
* Are They Adaptable?
High up on the list … are the catering service adaptable? The best event catering service professionals can cater to any circumstance that comes up – be it a last-minute extra vegetarian meal or a delayed itinerary. A smooth recovery from any hiccup is crucial to keep the party going.
This goes for the menu as well. How flexible can the caterer be on the menu options? Catering services have standard menus with standby options to swap in to suit your needs and tastes. The best event catering service professionals, however, will also be willing to totally tweak things to suit your theme. Do they offer tastings at which you can fine-tune the flavours and portions? Are they willing to include a special family recipe?
* Are the Staff On-Point?
If you are going for a fully-staffed service, the quality of the service is important. Watch how the caterer interacts with you at the very first meeting. Are they responsive? Enthusiastic? Do they offer their suggestions but not push their point? Do they listen, outline your needs and ask questions? The first meeting normally sets the tone for your working relationships.
During the event, you’d want the staff to be constantly circulating around, attending to the guests if it’s a circulating service arrangement, or making sure the buffet table is well-stocked and kept enticing. They should be alert to clean up accidents promptly and even go out of the way to help guests, if required.
Are the kitchen staff experienced? The focal point of most events is the food, and it is often crucial to the success of your event. The length of a company’s service doesn’t necessarily guarantee the quality of the food. The chef, sous chef and kitchen staff are the ones who run that show, so their background and experience weigh in more heavily.
Ask to meet with the kitchen staff of your caterer, if this is possible. Once you become a face to them, and not only a name, they might be able to add a more personal touch.
* Clean and Tidy
The wait staff will also be in charge of the clean up after the event, so you’d want to make sure that they are meticulous in their work. The best event catering service professionals will pick up all the dirty crockery and utensils and unfinished drinks and sweep and clean up carefully – including picking up broken glass – so that you can be assured to get your venue deposit back.
* Sign the Contract
The best event catering service professionals will present you with a contract to review. The contract should itemize every detail of what the caterer will provide, along with clear costings. Make sure you read through it in detail and ask as many questions as you need to to be sure of what the company will be offering. Be sure of what is standard and what is considered an upgrade. Are they talking about disposable plates or proper china crockery? How many staff will they provide? What will be done with the leftovers?
When it comes to choices, the caterer should be able to readily explain why they chose a particular option over another. Negotiate anything you feel you won’t need, or that can be dealt with in a more efficient way.
* What is Non-Performance Clause? What If the Caterer Cancels?
One more thing to consider with a contract is whether there is a non-performance clause for duties not performed by the caterer. You might feel they haven’t lived up to their promises, so this clause allows you to dispute their claims of duty served.
In the worst case scenario, a caterer might cancel on you. Make sure you have a cancellation clause in your contract that clearly stipulates what will happen in that event. Is your deposit fully refundable? Will they refer you to another reputable caterer to take over your event?
What Are the Prices I Might Expect?
* Mobile/Delivery Catering – RM10/pax – RM30/pax
Food is delivered to your home and it’s up to you to set it out and serve it to your guests. Another option is where a food truck or cart drives to your event and serves out food from the vehicle. The process is simple – you determine your needs and arrange when and where to deliver the food. This is the cheapest option since staff and all the frills aren’t required.
* Hotel/Restaurant Catering Price is dependant on the venue
The hotel or restaurant catering service assists you in planning most of your event – from liaising with kitchen staff, menu planning, food presentation, place settings, beverage presentation, decorations and so on, when the event is in-house. Staffing is included and all equipment set up and cleaned up after.
This obviously involves rental of the location and takes care of most of the planning. This can be quite expensive due to the rental, but well worth the expense to take most of the stress off the planning.
* Private Full-Service Catering
Afternoon Tea – RM20/pax – RM40/pax
Birthday Party – RM40/pax – RM90/pax
Wedding – RM40/pax – RM150/pax
Private full-service catering is done by independent catering services who come to a location of your choosing. They most often cater to larger, more formal events like business events, important anniversaries and wedding receptions. This is all-inclusive, including the setting up and clearing up of tables, chairs, canopies for outdoor locations, decorations, and even music and lighting.
This is all-inclusive, so will be the most costly, but it takes all stress off the planning. All you will need to do is talk to the coordinator.
Different Cuisines That Can be Catered
* Chinese 8-Course Dinner RM45/pax – RM100/pax
A Chinese 8-course dinner would typically consist of finger food like prawn cocktail, followed by a soup, a poultry dish, a mixed vegetable and meat dish, a shellfish dish, a fish dish and a rice or noodle dish, rounding up with a dessert. A drink would be included in this package too.
* Malay Dinner RM35/pax – RM50/pax
A Malay dinner starts off with a rice (nasi) dish, followed by a chicken (paha ayam) dish. A fish (ikan) dish will come next, then a special rice (kerabu) dish. A shellfish (udang) dish, followed by a beef (daging) dish will round up the meal. A sweet drink cuts the heaviness of the meal.
* Western Dinner RM90/pax – RM130/pax
A western dinner would start off with cold appetisers, followed by a soup and bread. A main course of meat or seafood would follow, then dessert. Drinks would be included with the set.
* Barbeque RM60/pax – RM90/pax
Barbeques would offer a noodle or rice dish, as well as vegetable dishes, soup and finger food to accompany the various meats offered. Desserts and drinks would round off the meal.