How To Choose The Catered Menu For Your Event
Choosing a menu for your event takes more time and consideration that just picking the food. When you plan a special event, you will work with the catering pro to plan out the food and choosing each menu item for your guests. There are several things to discuss and consider when building a menu.
The menu options a caterer offers is almost always flexible. If there’s something specific you want that isn’t offered, ask. If there’s a substitution you would like, ask. A good caterer will work with you.
- Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
The menu should offer some different pre-packaged meal options as well as à la carte The different meals of the day are usually unique.
- Breakfast: packaged menus are usually easier to choose and more cost effective. Choices may include hot buffets, continental options, and breakfast stations. Select the option that best fits your schedule.
- Lunch: may include boxed lunches, different lunch buffet options, or working lunch choices like à la carte sandwiches and a side item. The type of meal you choose will depend on your schedule. How much time will guests have to eat?
- Dinner: you will always have a choice of plated dinners or packaged dinner buffets. Both should offer between three and five courses. Dinner is typically where you will see the talent of the executive chef really shine.
- Dinner: Plated or Buffet?
The most important consideration when you need to decide on the type of dinner is how much time you will have.
- Buffet: allow up to an hour of time for any buffet meal. These work best for breakfast or lunch, or dinners where you don’t have enough time for plated meals.
- Plated: require at least an hour and a half, or more, of time to serve and clean the room. This is a common format for dinner and more relaxed senior exec meals.
- You will have to take special dietary needs into consideration when planning an event. You must notify the catering manager about any special needs or requests guests might have, including religious requirements, food allergies, and any other dietary restrictions. You will need to ask your guests about these special needs ahead of time, and you will need to discuss and plan with your catering pro as soon as you can.
What to Know About Your Food and Beverage Budget Items
When you’re coming up with your catering budget, make sure to anticipate these charges:
- Labour charge: a minimum charge to set up your event. This is sometimes negotiable or even waived if your event meets the caterer’s minimum fees.
- Catering minimums: most meals will require a minimum head count and charge for each person.
- Bartender fee: if your event needs bartender services.
- Chef fee: if your event requires a carving station.
- Room rental fee: may be waived if the event meets minimum fees.
- Service charges and sales tax: expect 20 percent or the percentage laid out as the service fee, plus taxes.
How Caterers Set Prices
There are three basic pricing systems used by most catering companies: fixed pricing, tiered pricing, and custom pricing.
- Fixed pricing: each item on the menu has a fixed price and quantity. For example, $25 for two servings of baked chicken.
- Tiered pricing: the price per person goes down as the guest count goes up. This is typically used for buffets but can also be used with seated meals with individual plates and pre-determined portions.
- Custom pricing: the caterer creates a custom quote for each customer based on their costs and your needs.