Saturday, November 29, 2014

Catering: Feeding the Crowd for a Work Event or a Home Party

Catering. I swear that every time I host a big event I say that next time I will hire a caterer. I use caterers at work but I've never hired one for my home. I'm just too stubborn. But I hire caterers weekly for work events of all sizes, and I would like to share a bit of what I have learned.

We’ll talk about event details, coffee, and alcohol consumption in future posts, but first we’re going to talk about food. Yes, I know we'd all rather talk about the decorating and fun touches, but if there isn't enough food there might be a revolt!

Whether you are ordering food for a work event or a party at home, the rules for ordering food are often the same. 
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For breakfast foods, a continental table can serve you well with little effort. You can allot 2 pieces of breads or pastries per person, and one piece of fruit. If you add yogurt, arrange for 8oz each (though in my experience your attendees won’t eat it all, even if you offer things to sprinkle in). People really love bagels (don't forget to ask the caterer if they provide a toaster - but this may be an extra charge so you might want to provide your own).
Lunches can vary so much, but remember that men usually eat more than women. And different groups eat differently, though you can’t really plan for that unless you have served them previously. For a simple lunch you should have a simple main dish of 6oz or so, two side dishes, a bread, a dessert, and one drink per person. I always order a few extra lunches if my budget allows it, because we often have people who walk in at the last minute, and I like to offer a few additional beverages - often water. 
Dinners basically follow the same rules but the size of the main dish can be increased.

The nice thing is that once you order from a caterer, you can ask them for their recommendations.
Most caterers would like as much notice as possible, and usually have a last date/time period for final count, usually 24 hours in advance. After this date the count would not be able to be changed.
Catering costs will also include an added delivery and/or set up fee, and the caterer usually provides serving supplies. However, you should always ask a new caterer, so you don’t assume incorrectly and end up without serving utensils. Once we decided to be order from a restaurant that didn't usually cater, and we ordered delicious food from an authentic Nepalese restaurant. The delivery people didn’t leave serving utensils. We had to scramble! We made it work but now we keep a limited number of supplies in our office in the event it happens again.

Finally, make sure to find out if any of your event participants have allergies. You will need to give this information to your caterer.

If you have any tips or tricks for catering events, please share them! 

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