What Should I Look For in a Caterer?

One of the most important decisions you’ll probably have to make when planning an event is deciding whether to hire a caterer.

As we mentioned in one of our earlier posts, there are several good reasons for hiring a caterer to help make your event successful:

  • Saves you time and stress
  • Keeps everything organized and handles your food and beverage details
  • Ensures there is enough food for the event and makes sure every guest is satisfied
  • Takes care of setup and cleanup


Once you have made the decision to hire a caterer for your special occasion, your need to know what to look for. This way, you can feel confident that you’re making the right choice for your specific catering needs.


6.28.15 Wedding at Castaway/Chef du Jour Catering

6.28.15 Wedding at Castaway/Chef du Jour Catering

Here are a few things to look for as you set out to hire a caterer

1) Experience

Depending on the type of event, you may feel most comfortable in hiring a professional caterer with several years of experience. The more experienced the caterer, the more likely it is that he or she has “seen it all,” so to speak.

Because catering is something he or she does all day, every day, an experienced caterer often has extensive knowledge of and skills in food preparation, presentation, and improvising when necessary.

You can easily find out how much experience caterers have (along with reliable references) by checking websites such as WeddingWire.com and USA-Caterers.com, for example.

2) Menu Options

You probably already have ideas about the types of food and beverages you hope to serve at your event. If your menu choices are fairly flexible, then most caterers can certainly prepare the menu and recipes you want.

However, let’s say you have a specific cuisine in mind, or would prefer a caterer who specializes in using only locally-sourced recipes and ingredients in their menus. In cases such as this, you should certainly consider taking the time to research caterers. This way you can find and hire a caterer who will easily provide you with the menus that meet your requests and expectations.

This also applies to those situations where you expect guests with food allergies or other dietary requirements at your event. Hiring a caterer who can accommodate such requirements with creative and tasty menu alternatives is essential. It makes those attendees with food restrictions feel appreciated, which also helps contribute to the overall success of your event.

3) Location

Much like hiring a caterer who is experienced with a variety of menu options and food preparations is important, you may also find it necessary to hire one who can successfully cater in different types of locations.

For example, if you are hosting an outdoor event during the summer months, you may want to hire a caterer who is prepared to handle the unique conditions such an event may require. Hiring a caterer who lives and/or works locally or who is otherwise familiar with the area (city and/or county) where your event is taking place is beneficial as well.

4) Services offered

Not all caterers provide essential services such as linen, plates, silverware, furniture, or beverage services for events. When you hire a caterer, this is something you may want to check into – otherwise you may end up paying a lot more for these additional services than you anticipated.

5) Partners

As you start planning your event, you may find that you need other services, such as photography or a DJ. Or you may need recommendations for the perfect event venue.

Finding a caterer who has good partnerships with other local business owners who provide the services you need can definitely make your planning go much easier.

And, speaking of partners…once you hire a caterer, it’s important to realize that this person should be someone you trust completely. He or she is also your partner as you plan your event together.

Being open and honest with each other, along with communicating regularly, will make your partnership – and your event – successful and fun for everyone involved.


Are you planning an event and looking for a caterer in the Portland-Metro area? We would love to help you with any of your catering needs. Please feel free to give us a call at (503) 222-4553 or contact us online anytime.