Sipping & Sampling: What to Look for in a Catering Partner

October 20, 2022 Jessica Stewart

New York event planners work with a host of various catering partners to bring amazing fare and flavors to every New York event and conference. But don’t stop shopping around for exciting menu ideas. And as you vet new potential catering services, be sure to look for these core deliverables.

The Official Must-Haves

Before booking any catering service, start with a must-have list of essentials. These include credentials for food service, insurance coverage, and scheduling availability. It’s generally recommended, too, that you verify and understand cancellation plans and provisions. Don’t work with a catering partner who doesn’t first check off these must-have boxes.

Sampling Food Quality

Don’t simply be moved to hire a catering service because their menu options and dessert bars look great on paper. Make arrangements to meet with caterers to sip and sample new dishes and fare. You’ll want to experience the food quality for yourself before serving a room full of corporate event guests or bar/bat mitzvah attendees. Choosing a menu that you’ve not tasted for yourself could spell disaster for your New York conference or event. 

Reviews and Past Client Testimonials

Look for a caterer’s online reviews to help you make final partnership decisions. Those who’ve hired the catering service before will likely take to Yelp and other platforms to share their experiences. A few negative reviews shouldn’t sway your decision. But if you spot trending concerns, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. And don’t forget to ask caterers for references and inquire about similar event types they’ve served in the past.

Cost of Catering Services

Not all cheap caterers serve terrible food. And not all expensive catering services impress the guests. So, don’t let price points rule your catering partnership decision. That being said, you will need to consider budget parameters, and to do so, you’ll have to talk numbers. Inquire about what services are included with various packages. Ask precisely about additional fees or charges that may be incurred. And don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Menu Flexibility and Special Needs

Be mindful of any dietary restrictions or special needs your event guests might have. You can discuss those with your catering partners to make sure you provide ample selection on the menu. But you won’t always have insights about special needs ahead of time. So, inquire further with caterers about having certain items on-hand should there need to be a last-minute menu change to accommodate an attendee.

Consider these tips and best practices as you explore new catering partnerships for your upcoming New York events! And be looking for new and exciting menu options to delight your guests. 

Keep following our ongoing blog series for more event planner insights. And be sure to get on the waiting list for The Event Planner Expo 2023!

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