8 Questions to Ask Caterers Before Partnering for Your Next Event

September 20, 2022 Jessica Stewart

It can be challenging for New York event planners to find the right caterers for their various events. That is, of course, if you don’t know where to look or don’t know what questions to ask. If you’ve been struggling to find long-term partnerships with local caterers, here’s the roster of questions you can use to guide your efforts. 

1. What does your event schedule look like?

It’s probably best to ask any catering partner about their schedule first. You’ll have event dates in mind, and if they’re already committed those days, you’ll obviously have to look elsewhere. But you’ll also want to inquire about other events around your event dates. If a catering provider is overbooked, it could translate to poor service for your event.

2. What foods or dishes do you specialize in primarily?

This is a great first question for a number of reasons. Get them talking about their niche, their success stories, and their specialty dishes. If you’re unsure it’s a good fit after they’ve had a chance to demonstrate their best efforts, you’ll know in advance it might be best to move on to another catering partner. Alternatively, if you love what they have to say, you’re in a great position to continue the discussion.

3. Have you catered similar events?

This question isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. However, it can be helpful to know the answer. If you’re working with a caterer who’s experienced with your specific event, whether it’s a wedding, a corporate holiday party, or an executive meeting, you’ll be at ease knowing they’ll understand what you’ll expect of them.

4. Do you provide menu sampling? 

Choosing a caterer involves more than just browsing and selecting from a menu. You’ll want to sample the dishes you choose, and your event client may just want to sample, too. It’s a red flag if you’re not allowed to taste test, so definitely ask about sampling.

5. Can you accommodate special needs or diets?

If you know well in advance that you’ll have specialty dietary requests to accommodate, you’ll need to know your caterer can deliver. But in some instances, those diet needs only become known to you at the event. Ask now if your caterer can plan for those last-minute requests, should they arise.

6. Can you provide event references?

If you’re entertaining a new catering partner, ask to see those references from past events. Inquire about other event planners they’ve worked with in the past. And follow up on those references to make sure you know how well they did.

7. Have you catered at this venue before?

A question like this will help you better understand if a caterer has precise experience in your venue. Just because a pro hasn’t worked there before doesn’t mean they won’t do a great job. But it might help to work with someone who’s already served guests in this environment.

8. How do you source your food?

Fresh won’t always mean fresh, and just because the menu says “quality ingredients” doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll get with your event. Talk with catering professionals about where and how they source those fresh ingredients.

If you’re struggling to find great catering partners, consider adding these questions to your vetting process. And definitely get to The Event Planner Expo 2022 this October. All the best catering services will be there, mingling and on the tradeshow floor, ready to make new partnerships with event planners like you! Get your tickets NOW!

Previous Article
How Food Trucks Can Bring More Than Just Tasty Fare to Your Event
How Food Trucks Can Bring More Than Just Tasty Fare to Your Event

If you want to introduce an element of fun and delicious fare, consider bringing a food truck service into ...

Next Article
Open Bar or No? 4 Event Planner Tips to Consider
Open Bar or No? 4 Event Planner Tips to Consider

There are pros and cons to both sides of the open bar debate. Here are the points New York event planners s...