8 Questions to Ask a Potential Caterer

Are you making plans for a special event which requires catering? If so, then you’ll need to hire a caterer that meets the requirements you have in mind for your type of event. As we discussed in our previous article, “8 Reasons to Call a Caterer Today,” there are several good reasons why catering your event makes sense. It also makes sense for you to hire a caterer you feel completely comfortable with, so you can work together to create a successful event.

However, hiring that just-right caterer for your event isn’t as easy you might think. In fact, it can be downright tricky. You’re going to have a lot of questions when it’s time to hire a caterer, so knowing what to ask up front will ultimately save you a lot of time, confusion, and misunderstanding.

Catering By The Other Woman --Midori Mountain ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following are 8 questions you should consider asking when you’re ready to hire a caterer:

1) What types of menus do you offer, and can you make accommodations for special dietary requirements?

This is probably the most important question to ask when you’re ready to hire a caterer. You may already have an idea of the specific cuisine the caterer specializes in. But, if you don’t ask them, you could possibly miss out on a variety of other menus that you might like, too. It’s also good to find out whether the caterer can make accommodations for guests who are vegetarian or have food allergies.

2) What is your price range; are your catering services all-inclusive, or do you charge “per head”?

It’s important for you to understand how the caterer charges for their services, so you don’t end up with additional costs you weren’t expecting.

3) May we schedule a food tasting with you?

Ahhh, the all-important taste test. How else are you going to know whether the caterer’s food and menu choices meet your (and your guests’) standards? Seeing samples also provides you with an excellent opportunity to see how the caterer displays their food, and whether their presentation style meets your expectations.

4) Are you able to show us at least three references?

You may have received catering referrals from friends and/or family. It’s still always a good idea to request references from the caterer, and they should be able to easily provide the names and information of other customers.

5) What do you provide besides food?

Depending on your event’s venue, you’ll require other catering-related essentials such as the following:

  • Furniture, i.e., tables and chairs
  • Place settings & silverware
  • Linens
  • Servers and wait-staff
  • Alcohol

If the caterer does not include these things, find out if they work closely with someone who does.

6) Are you properly licensed and insured?

A licensed caterer meets specified health and safety standards; an insured caterer is covered for liability. On the day of your event, you’re going to want to have the peace-of-mind this brings, just in case anything unexpected happens.

7) Do you have other events booked on the date of my event?

It’s fair to ask your potential caterer whether they may be potentially overextending themselves if they commit to your event. It’s your event, so it should receive the attention it deserves.

8) Do you require a deposit; how will you invoice me?

Many caterers require a deposit, so you’ll want to find out how much it’s going to be, and whether all or part is refundable. You’ll also want to ask questions about your final invoice, such as (1) whether gratuity is included, (2) how the charges are broken down (itemized), and (3) what the terms and conditions are.

The Chef du Jour catering team has served the Portland-Metro area since 1999, so we have the experience for a variety of events. Give us a call when you’re ready to hire a caterer and we’ll happily answer all of your questions about creating an event to “wow” your attendees.


featured image photo credit: www.audio-luci-store.it via photopin cc