Questions to Ask Your Caterer


Many venues do not provide catering services, requiring clients to reach out to off-premise caterers to provide food for the events they are planning.  With this comes a lot more than simply needing a menu; off-premise caterers are often the ones setting up and breaking down the entire event, providing table linens, china, glassware, and flatware, necessary staffing, and the insurance policy that most venues require.  Here are some questions to ask your caterer:


  1. Is the caterer familiar with the site?  Experience with particular venues and knowledge of the logistics of the space will help avoid dilemmas from arising later down the road.  If the caterer is not familiar with the site (as is often the case with private residences and office buildings), will he agree to go to a walk-thru of the venue to better gauge what needs to be brought in, where the food prep and break down will take place, and how to best fit the anticipated number of guests?


  1. Is the caterer capable of accommodating specialty?  Vegan, vegetarian, Kosher, gluten-free, and kids’ meals are commonly needed on the day of the event.  Knowing whether or not the caterer can offer meals for those guests, if there is a different cost associated with those meals, and what the policy is on requesting them can set your mind at ease when you are approached by your guests during the planning process.


  1. What will happen with leftovers?  Are they guaranteed?  Will they be given to you?


  1. Is gratuity included?  If it is not included in the initial proposal, will it be added on the final bill, or is it completely at your discretion?  Anticipating such a cost will help in the final stages of your planning.


  1. When is the final headcount due?  Be sure to schedule your RSVP date two weeks prior to this deadline so as to afford yourself the time to call any guests who have neglected to respond.


  1. Will the caterer provide you with a taste test?  Every caterer has a different taste test policy.  Some offer personal tastings based on the menu proposal being considered; others offer mass tastings for all of their current and prospective clients; other still will only offer a taste test after they have been booked to cater your event.


Don’t forget to read the catering proposal and contract thoroughly.  Many of your questions will be answered in the notes.  Be sure the caterer indicates the food being offered (versus a vague “chef’s choice” or “sautéed greens”), lists the equipment being provided, includes the date and times of your event (no one wants to discover they are planning a 5-hour reception and the caterer is only providing 4 hours of service), and details the payment and cancellation policies.

If your questions are not answered in the proposal/contract, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask.  Feeling confidant in and comfortable with your caterer is an important step towards enjoying every moment of planning your celebration.  Contact us HERE!


— Bobby Mitchell, Owner