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How to Cater Your Next Event

If you've ever had to cater a business luncheon or event, you know that making sure all the pieces come together at exactly the right moment can be a stressful trial to endure.

Pulling off the perfect event requires coordination of the caterer, budget, guest, and venue.

Luckily, finding the perfect caterer has never been easier. Online menus and websites place hundreds of options at your fingertips, but with so many options, you can walk away scratching your head. The burden of choice leaves even the most veteran of planners frozen with potential.

If you're looking for the best Italian catering in Houston, we highly recommend Italiano's, but if you'd rather not take our word for it, we've put together some guidelines to make sure you're choosing the right caterer and that you're asking the right questions.

Know Your Caterer

If you live in a large market, like Houston, your catering options can certainly feel overwhelming. That's why your first step should be to look for recommendations and reviews. Of course, the style of food is an important decision that can narrow your field down to a select handful, so it's best to give this some thought up front.

Next, consider the type of event you’re planning. For a business luncheon, you could offer buffet style service, or perhaps it'd be easier for meals to come individually packaged or plated.

Once you've made these initial decision on what styles of food is right for the occasion, you can begin to review your options. That's when it's best to rely on others to weed out bad experiences before they occur.

Online review sites have flourished over the past few years, employing more sophisticated tactics to root out planted reviews (both positive and negative). You can get a good picture of a restaurant or caterers' quality by surveying review platforms like Google Plus, Yelp!, Urban Spoon, and Trip Advisor.

Of course, personal recommendations are also invaluable, so it's always useful to poll your friends or colleagues that have worked with local caterers.

Know Your Budget

Once you have your budget established, and monetary concerns taken care of, turn your attention to your guests.

As you can imagine, not all catered events are created equal. A wedding reception will have very little in common with a business luncheon, so as you navigate through online menus and services, keep your event, venue, and audience in mind.

Knowing your guest count is essential as you begin to order for obvious reasons. You need to ensure that everyone is fed, but there's not enough waste to feed a bus of hungry football players.

But it's more than simply identifying how many people will be at your event, you should spend time creating your guest profile. To begin to build this profile, consider characteristics of the group.

  1. Professional Level – If your guests frequent events with catered meals, it might be worth going the extra mile on the meal. Choose an exotic dish, or a hyper-local specialty, or perhaps just spring for the best service you can get your hands on.
  2. Guest Age – While not a hard and fast rule, it's generally advisable to stick to a milder menu for an older group, while younger audiences might gravitate to a more eclectic dish.
  3. Health Consciousness – If you know that many of your guests are fitness freaks, you can cater (sorry) to them by offering seafood or vegetable options.
  4. Special Considerations – As the event planner, do your best to find out any dietary restrictions present within the group. When considering your larger group, work with your caterer to find out if they have vegetarian, gluten free, and nut-free dishes.

Know Your Event

As I'm sure you've gathered by now, deciding on a caterer is a complicated decision not to be handled lightly. The next consideration for any event planner is the style of your event. For every type of food to choose from, there's a catering layout that should be also weighed. Among the many important variables that are weighed in the event menu and style is the event length.

If you're catering a company retreat, with a busy schedule of brainstorming and planning, you may only have half an hour to feed the masses, so a boxed lunch may be your best bet. Buffets typically require about an hour, and plated meals can take up to 90 minutes.

To make things more complicated, you also can choose working breakfast or lunches, which take special consideration. With these catered meals, you need to plan on items that will hold for a long period of time. Aim for items that can be served at room temperature, so your guests can graze on the spread over the course of the meeting.

Know Your Details

Now that you’re nearing the finish line, be sure not to trip on the home stretch. Below is a list of miscellaneous questions that come up with organizing an event. It can be hard to account for everything, but here are a few final details that you don't want to overlook:

  • Is the caterer insured?
  • Who keeps leftover food?
  • Who is responsible for cleanup?
  • What is the room set up going to be?
  • Does the caterer provide serving staff if necessary?

Know Your Conclusion

You did it! If you’ve followed this guide, you’ve successfully planned a catered business luncheon, event, or breakfast. Planning a large event can be a stressful process, but we hope that this guide helped walk you through the process. To learn more about Italiano's catering in Humble or Houston, TX, call 832-971-8400 and ask for Susie or Al. They will be happy to help you!

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