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Getting the catering part of your event right can help every other aspect of your event run smoother and leave your guests feeling more satisfied with their experience. Here is a guide to help you make the right menu choices and implement the best serving plan for your catered event.

What to Serve

The first thing that’ll come to mind is the “what”: What should be served at my event? Here are some things to consider as you answer that question:

 

Timing and Duration

You’ll want to consider what time your event will take place and how long it will run. These factors will determine what sort of food you should offer and possibly how much. If your event will run into dinner time, then a full meal ought to be provided. If it will also run quite late, you’ll want to consider offering a dessert later in the event or adding more courses to the meal.

 

What’s in Season

You’ll definitely want to consider what’s in season when making your menu choices so that the items you choose can actually be prepared. You’ll also want to think about what sort of dishes fit the season. For example, soups and chowders may be best for events in the Fall and Winter months, while sundaes, shakes, and other cold items can be more refreshing in Spring and Summer.

 

Guest Expectations

There’s nothing more frustrating than expecting one thing and getting something completely different. Think about the expectations your guests may have going into your event and how you can meet them. If you think those expectations may not match what you plan to offer, then make sure to communicate this beforehand to keep your guests upbeat and happy throughout the event.

 

Dietary Restrictions

For people without special dietary needs, it’s easy to forget to make accommodations for those who do. It’s important to find out who in your party has dietary restrictions and what those

restrictions are. Then you can discuss this with your caterer to see what options are available. You might be able to provide separate meals to these individuals and remain free of restrictions as you choose the menu for the rest of your guests.

 

How to Serve It

The way you choose to have your food served is just as important as what you serve. There are a few different serving options to choose from and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

 

Plated Meals

With this format, wait staff members bring out carefully crafted plated meals and serve them directly to each guest. With this formal serving option, guests can remain seated and distractions can be minimized, making it the perfect fit for an event centered around a presentation or group of speakers. It also allows for more intimate socializing among table groups for networking events. With plated meals, everything is portioned out evenly so that each guest receives the same amount of food ­ no worrying about some taking too much and others being left without. But if you plan to go with this option, make sure that the venue you choose allows for enough room for wait staff to walk among the tables and perform their job efficiently.

 

Buffet

A buffet allows guests to serve themselves. This can be especially appropriate when catering for a large group of people or when guest arrivals may be more sporadic ­ such as at a wedding reception. With a buffet, you can offer a wider variety of dishes in order to accommodate a wider range of tastes. Anyone who has ever stood in a buffet line, though, knows that it can be painful if it takes too long. Its important with a buffet to plan ahead in order to allow the line to move smoothly and quickly. One way you can do this is by providing a double sided buffet line if you expect more than 75 guests. Or you can provide a separate but identical arrangement on the other side of the room to prevent one single area from becoming too congested. For large crowds, it’s also a good idea to stay away from “build your own” style offerings as these can slow down the procession.

 

Passed Plates

With this format, members of the wait staff walk among guests carrying trays of small snacks or individual parts of a meal that guests can take and add to their plate. This is great for events where the emphasis is on mingling and socializing ­ the food comes to the guests without them needing to worry much about it or stay in one place in order to get it. You also have more control over quantity this way, which can help keep costs down.

We hope your next event is a spectacular one ­ and that you’ll consider us to help it go off without a hitch!