Information For The Catering Company That (Almost) Doesn't Involve Menu Planning
When you start looking for caterers for an event, your focus is most likely on the food. That's understandable since the food is the whole point of having catering to begin with. But there are some nonfood issues that caterers need to know about in order to provide the right level of service. Catering is not something that you want to leave to assumptions. You don't want to assume the caterers will know everything about your event — you will need to tell them.
Tell Them Where to Park
Some venues have very clear parking-lot locations and are free. Others are not free, or the lots are cramped and crowded. You have to let the caterers know where to park, know if there is a fee, and know if there are any free spots elsewhere around your event location. You should pay for their parking, of course. But do tell them where they can park so that they can bring all the food and equipment in with as little inconvenience as possible. This is especially urgent if you're holding the event in a location where there is basically no parking — as more cities eliminate parking requirements for new construction, you may find that parking spaces for companies like caterers become scarce. You need to help the caterers find a place to park.
Disposable Versus Returnable Containers and Dishware
Are the caterers merely providing the food, or are they serving and setting up entire tables with dishes and silverware? Can they drop food off in disposable containers, or are they acting as servers and providing only regular dishes that they'll take back with them? And, if they're providing regular dishes, what types will you need? You should also consider how fancy you want the settings to be.
How Many Special Diets Need to Be Accommodated
This one is related to menu planning, but it's about more than just the menu. Because cross-contamination of food is a problem for people with health and dietary restrictions (and sometimes religious restrictions), the catering company needs to be aware of what each set of serving tongs and spoons has touched. That may require special seating, too, and the catering company needs to know where those with restrictions will be sitting so that they're served the correct dishes in a safe but discreet manner.
Catering arrangements may take some time to set up. Start calling now and be sure you find out about which dietary restrictions you'll have to tell the caterers about. Reach out to a company like Rogue Kitchens to learn more.