Some useful catering tips

Wedding Caterers, Marriage Caterers, Wedding Catering ServicesThere’s no replacing experience as the best way to learn catering. While reading and research helps, nothing beats on-the-job learning. Here are the best tips and lessons learned from some of the leading caterers. Reading this article will save you a lot of time, money, and effort. Some specific advice from some successful caterers:

  • Always Confirm
    This may seem silly to even mention. You might think that someone who gave you a large deposit and who is planning a party doesn’t need to be reminded. Experience tells a different story. Make sure that you have an e-mail address and multiple phone numbers for each client. It is also helpful to have a contact number for a friend or family member. Make sure to call the client a few days before the party to get the final guest count, and call the client the day before to confirm. Talk to the client; don’t just leave a message.

    There have been occasions when caterers have appeared at the designated house at the designated time only to find the client away and no one at home. Events fall through for a number of reasons, and sudden illnesses or crises do happen.
  • Don’t Put Too Much Weight on Any One Surface
    Don’t let the words “the table seemed steady” be the last words you say to a client as you attempt to explain why half the buffet just hit the floor and three of the guests are sitting on their rear ends covered in shrimp salad. No matter how stable a surface seems, make sure to double-check the braces, screws, and other fittings each time you set it up.
  • Equipment Setup
    No matter how harried you are, make sure that you do a final inspection of everything before guests are allowed to serve themselves or walk into an area you were working in. Use this checklist:
    1. Are coffee urns or slow cookers placed safely? Can anyone knock them over when they pass by? Are the cords safely stowed and taped up, so that no one can trip over them or pull them by accident?
    2. Are all floor surfaces wiped dry?
    3. Are all area rugs and small carpets taped down?
    4. Are there designated places for people to put down their used plates and cups, or will they be stacked up on expensive furniture?
    5. Are all knives and dangerous equipment washed and stored?
    6. Inspect all plated food and platters for stray hairs or foreign objects.
    7. Inspect all green salads for sand and blackened edges.
    8. In hot weather, make sure all perishable food is at the correct temperature and hasn’t spoiled.
  • Plan for the Worst
    The best caterers don’t even flinch when the client tells them the stove just broke or twelve extra people are coming for dinner. Always have a backup plan. Carry charcoal and a grill as backup if you’re cooking at the client’s. Carry extra Sterno brand fuel. Always bring flashlights, batteries, candles, candleholders, and matches in case the electricity goes off in the middle of a party.

    Always bring more food than you need in case you have to stretch a meal or dish. Bring extra cut vegetables and stocks to stretch a soup. Bring additional supplies of rice and pasta. While you might run out of an expensive main course like lobster, filet mignon, or veal roast, make sure that you have enough side dishes to feed at least ten or twelve more people, and figure that into your cost. The added cost to the client will be minimal, and they’ll be happy with leftovers. They’ll never forget, though, that you ran out of food.
  • Count the Actual Number of Guests
    To make sure that you don’t have more guests than were paid for, make sure to count every guest, and count until you’re sure you have the right number. Wait until everyone is seated to eat dinner. If you see an empty chair, make a mental note of it and check back in a few minutes to see if its occupant returned or if it’s truly empty.
  • Focus on the Details
    Catering is detail oriented. Make sure every detail is accounted for, and you have a plan for the event to run smoothly. Clients will notice even slight delays or missteps.

    Catering is a labor-intensive, human business. No one has found a way to automate it or outsource it. Consequently, there is plenty of potential for errors, but there is also room to do everything right and give the client a stellar experience.
  • Practice What You Preach
    The only way you’ll have a well-trained staff is if you invest time, effort, and money into teaching them the right way to do things. However, all the training in the world is counterproductive if you don’t follow your own rules.
    You must be the hardest-working person on your team if you want your staff to work hard. If you want your staff to treat guests and others in a friendly, professional manner, it’s up to you to set the tone.