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TIPS & ADVICE ON BOOKING A CATERER
As famous food author M.F.K. Fisher once wrote, “First we eat, then we do everything else.” I don’t know about you, but if the food is good, the chances are I’m going to enjoy the event, whatever it is!
There are many benefits to hiring a professional caterer, including convenience, good-quality produce, wide choice of food options and great service. Not only will a caterer take the strain away from you as host, allowing you to focus on other aspects of planning, and to enjoy the event itself, but you can work directly with your caterer to create a menu that will suit you and your guests.
From formal dining, to sharing boards, buffets and mobile food carts, here we cover the basics to help you ensure that your carefully allocated catering budget is spent on delicious food that hits all the right flavours for your occasion. That way you and your guests can eat, drink and be merry!
WHY HIRE A PROFESSIONAL CATERER?
Almost any event requires a fair amount of organising, so handing the catering side of things over to a professional will make your life much easier. Once you have agreed on the menu, they will take care of everything, from preparing, delivering and serving the food, to clearing up afterwards!
If you’re having a formal dinner, your caterer will also provide tableware, cutlery and glasses, and full waiter service. You can also speak to them about any special requirements such as place cards, flower arrangements and table decorations.
Professional caterers pride themselves on providing top-notch customer service, with fully-trained and attentive waiting staff to take care of your guests’ every need. They will also work with you to create a schedule to ensure that food is delivered on time and your guests aren’t left getting hungry.
For weddings, you can expect expert attention to detail and a personal touch, from hand-written dish names and place settings to bespoke menus and table decorations.
Good Quality Ethical Produce
As consumers we are all becoming more aware of where our food comes from, and with the environment in mind, more and more of us are choosing vegetarian or vegan options and we want to know that our food is produced using sustainable methods.
Many caterers buy directly from local farmers, fishermen and artisans, or they make their own produce, so you can be sure the food you’re eating is traceable and produced according to the highest standards of farming and animal welfare. You can always ask your caterer about where they source their ingredients, and you will often find that they use local and organic produce, as well packaging that is recyclable, bio degradable or made from sustainable resources.
The working conditions of food growers is equally important to many of us, and you can also ask your caterer if they use fair trade products.
Hygiene and Food Safety
You want to know that the grub you give your guests is prepared according to the highest food hygiene standards, from wearing protective hats and gloves, to using fresh produce and using a clean kitchen.
Any reputable caterer or bar service you hire, from a chocolate fountain to a full sit-down dinner service, should have Public Liability Insurance and appropriate certificates in Food Hygiene. The minimum legal requirement for anyone preparing, handling or selling food as a professional caterer is a Level 2 Hygiene Certificate in Catering, which should have completed within the last three years. For more information on food health and safety requirements, you can visit the Nationwide Caterers Association website.
Caterers today offer a mouth-watering array of choice. The style of cuisine and the format it comes in is really up to you and what you think your guests will appreciate.
Whether you want a gourmet meal prepared by a top chef for a fancy sit-down dinner or waffles and ice-cream from a beach-style cart, there’s a caterer for you. With everything from vintage vans serving homemade sausage rolls, to a colourful stall dishing up Vietnamese street food, your only problem will be deciding between all the fantastic options available!
Special Dietary Requirements
There are many reasons why some people cannot eat certain foods. Some are allergic to specific ingredients such as milk, eggs or nuts. Some have restrictions on the type of food they can eat (certain meats for example) on religious grounds. As the host of any event, large or small, it’s important to be aware of any food allergies or special dietary requirements that you need to cater for.
Once you have asked your guests about any special requirements they have, make sure you let your caterer know. They will be accustomed to providing vegetarian, vegan and allergen-free versions of their food, as required.
IS A CATERER RIGHT FOR MY EVENT?
If your venue is not providing the catering for your event, you’ll need a professional catering company. They have the know-how, equipment and staff to deliver your ideal choice of menu, in a timely manner, so that your guests can enjoy friendly and efficient service and, most importantly, are not kept waiting for their food!
Professional caterers can serve food in a wide variety of formats to suit any event, from intimate dinners and elegant cocktail parties, medium-sized birthday and anniversary celebrations, to full-scale weddings and large corporate functions.
Whether you’re looking to provide buffet-style food at a reception, BBQ and ice-cream at a family fun day, or a full five-course meal with waiter service, we have the caterer for your event.
Having an outdoor party? Sizzling paella prepared in large pans will create a summery Spanish fiesta feel, and guests can also share cheese platters, charcuterie boards, or tapas - perfect if your hired entertainment is continuing into the evening.
For a sit-down dinner with guests of all ages, you can choose family-style recipes such as Macaroni & Cheese or American Soul Food, whereas French or Italian might be a better option for a gala dinner.
For any family fun day or community event, a mobile ice-cream van serving delicious homemade ice-cream in a mouthwatering choice of flavours, will go down a treat. You also can’t go wrong with an authentic German hot dog stand, or a Hog Roast.
Today, many people want to enjoy food as a tactile and sensory experience, where the look and texture of the food is just as important as the taste. With unique recipes, authentic flavours and carefully selected ingredients, delivered by chefs with a real passion for food, you can add an extra dimension to your event. Guests will love discovering new dishes, learning how they’re made, and tucking in to a full taste experience!
One of the biggest expenses of a wedding is food, with many venues charging as much as £50 per head. Even if you’re not having the world’s biggest wedding, that’s going to add up pretty quickly.
A more affordable option may be to hire your own caterer (as long as your venue allows this). Wedding caterers can provide sit down meals, buffets, or mobile kitchens, serving everything from burritos to burgers. Whether you want waffles and ice-cream, Italian, French, Thai or barbecue, or food with a Middle Eastern or African influence, there will be a caterer to fulfill your needs.
You can opt for a traditional menu, or get things sizzling with live cooking, so that guests can watch as chefs prepare delicious paella or stir fry in front of their very eyes. Our qualified and experienced caterers can provide specialities, such as hog roast or sushi, or a full course menu including canapés and desert, with options for vegetarians, vegans and those will food allergies, as required.
So, for quality food that your guests will love, served with a smile, take a look at our tantalisingly tasty Caterers, just waiting to help you create your perfect menu. Staffing and equipment will be included in your price and they’ll even take care of plates, cutlery and glassware, so that you and your guests can relax and enjoy the day without worrying about the washing up!
Top Tip: As soon as you know your wedding date, contact your chosen caterer to make sure they are available, and to discuss your requirements. Good communication on the lead up to your wedding will be key to ensuring that all goes smoothly on the day.
Whether it’s a sit-down dinner event for your colleagues and clients, a big bash to celebrate your annual work-do or a big charity event, a professional team of caterers and waiting staff is sure to impress guests and set the required tone for the occasion.
HOW MUCH WILL A CATERER COST?
Factors such as the number of serving staff required, the number of guests at your event and the type of cuisine you are ordering will all affect the price. Caterers may also charge more at key times of year such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Since the prices do vary widely, we highly recommend getting in touch with your chosen company for a completely free, no-obligation quote. Caterers will be used to answering questions about what they can offer and the price per head, and may even be able to supply sample menus with costings. It’s better to make sure you know what you’re getting for your money.
Lots of caterers will have a minimum order amount, and you may also want to check what happens if fewer or more guests attend than you were expecting.
HOW LONG CAN I HIRE A CATERER FOR?
This will depend on how long your event is going on for, and how long you need the caterer for. If you’re hiring a mobile food van for an all-day event, you may want them to be there for the duration of the day. If you’re hiring caterers for your wedding breakfast or evening reception, it will depend on how long it takes them to prepare and serve the food and then to clear away.
When you approach caterers in the initial stages, make sure you explain exactly what your requirements are and they will be able to quote for you accordingly.
HOW DO I MAKE MY SHORTLIST AND HOW DO I BOOK?
The quickest way to find a reputable caterer in your area, to suit your occasion and budget, is to use our simple search function. Just add your location and click search. On their profile pages, you will find details of their experience, plus all-important testimonials, links and contact information.
Once you’ve found your ideal caterer, just contact them direct. Even better, if you would rather they came to you, you can request multiple quotes, and this service is completely free! You should also feel free to ask any caterer you contact whether they have worked on similar events to yours before, and if it’s possible to see testimonials from those clients. We know the ideal caterer is on here waiting for you and we hope you enjoy your search, but do contact us if you need any help.
Search now to find a Caterers for your event