One of the most talked about elements of any event is the food. The guests of honor hope to showcase dishes that share their personal preferences and story, while friends and family hope the menu exceeds their expectations for delicious flavor. Both are absolutely possible! But, before you can wow everyone on your guest list with your menu, you must first understand catering styles, how to choose a caterer who is right for you and your event, and what extra details must be confirmed. So, today, we’re diving into the top five things you need to know about catering for events and weddings. Let’s dive in!

Know the Caterer Behind the Menu:

Before you start researching caterers for your mitzvah or wedding, you will first want to book your venue. This is an important step to take because sometimes venues have in-house caterers, which means you won’t need to research caterers at all! On the flip side, if the venue doesn’t have an on-site caterer, you will want to consult with your venue’s team to see if they have a preferred list of caterers. These are professionals who have worked in the space in the past and are invited to come back again. Once you have learned what’s possible from your venue’s perspective, you’re cleared to continue to the next step!

Choose Your Serving Style:

When you’re planning an event, there are several different catering styles to consider. In the past, buffets were one of the most popular ways to serve dinner at a special event. However, as a result of the pandemic, they’re on hold (and potentially a thing of the past) in order to keep guests’ health top of mind. Now, stations, family style, and plated meals are the way to go.

Stations are similar to buffets in that guests will visit different setups for different food groups. For example, you might have a carving station, a spot for sides, and another space for items like salad and bread. The key thing to note is every station is staffed by a member of the catering team who will serve the menu item from their area. This is important because it reduces the number of guests who touch serving utensils from many to just a few (the staff!).

Family style meals are a great option if you would like guests to feel encouraged to converse at their tables. Plus, they’re also a wonderful option in between stations and plated meals. Family style is more formal than stations but less formal than plated. Through this serving style, all of the elements of your menu will be served in large platters for guests to pass around the table. During the pandemic, it will be key to make sure only members of the same household are seated together and passing plates.

Plated meals are the preferred serving style for more formal events. Typically, meals are presented in multiple courses (think: salad, main, and dessert). Every course is served by the catering team, and guests will feel as though they’re dining at a restaurant. Because guests are served individually at their tables, this is also the most Covid-safe option.

Learn the Types of Caterers:

As you’re learning what is encouraged by your venue and the type of catering style you’re envisioning for your event, you will also want to understand the types of caterers. There are also caterers who favor food trucks. Additionally, there are teams who are the best of the best when it comes to kosher, gluten-free, allergy friendly, or farm-to-table meals. In order to have the best experience and to allow your guests to enjoy your chosen menu, the key is to work with a caterer who knows exactly how to make your menu and serving style happen and happen well!

Order a Cake:

Many caterers will offer dessert as part of the courses that are served at your event. However, dessert is not necessarily categorized as cake! If you are planning a wedding and dreaming of cutting and serving a wedding cake, talk with your caterer to see if that’s something they provide. If they don’t, which is common, you will need to contact an area baker who can bake and deliver your wedding cake.

Feed Your Vendors:

Lastly, you and your guests are not the only ones that should be added to your list of guests who will need (and want!) to sample your event’s menu. Your professionals will need to eat dinner too. In fact, many event professionals note they must be provided with a meal at your event in their contract. Make sure to keep in mind that many professionals also specify that the meal they are served must be hot. Take a look at your contracts to make sure everyone is on the same page for dinner! Tip: While you do not have to serve your vendors the same meal your guests will enjoy, it’s always much appreciated. Your team loves to enjoy great food too!

Do you have any questions about catering your special event? What is one menu item you can’t wait to taste? Leave your comments below, or send me a note to talk further.

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