August 20, 2019
By Caroline Howard

Catering is pretty simple… right? While the concept itself is basic, the actual process can get tricky. If you have ever had to deal with catering a meeting or event, you know it is not as easy as you might assume. Next time you order avoid these top mistakes.

Not Adding Gratuity into Your Budget

One common mistake is not being aware of whether gratuity is included in the bill. This is such a common mistake because a lot of the time the restaurant doesn’t mention it! Budgets are set for a reason and it can not only be frustrating but also a big deal if you forget to account for let’s say a $300 dollar tip. The best way to avoid this is to always ask the restaurant before locking them down as your caterer.

Timing the Delivery

Another thing people don’t realize is the timing of delivery is very important. If the delivery time is set too early, then you worry about the food no longer being hot or fresh by the time it’s served. In the opposite scenario of it being delivered too late, you worry about hungry people turning into hangry people. Nobody likes to be hangry and you don’t want to be on the other end of it. The best solution I found for this is to have the food be delivered 30 minutes prior to eating. Of course, if you are catering for 600 people then you need to account for the set-up time. In that case, consider 45 minutes or an hour. Tip: Don’t uncover the food until right before people are going to eat it.

Not Including Vegetarian Options (or Gluten Free)

This is a personal mistake I learned from. You might not even be aware you are ordering for someone that is vegetarian and it can get awkward if you did not provide a substantial menu option for them. Consider providing vegetable wraps, kabobs, pizza or hearty pasta dishes. Think protein and lots of it! Be sure to include something substantial that is gluten free as well.

Underestimating the Amount of Food

Food is hard to estimate. Every restaurant makes different proportions and every person eats different amounts. The best way that I found to solve this problem is to add 2-5 heads into your count. That way if more people come you have accounted for them and no one is going to complain about not eating.

Being Unaware of Ingredients Used

For people’s safety, it is best to know what is being served. Some caterers will provide labels with the ingredients in each dish. This is a quick way to decipher if that food is safe for certain people. Another solution is to print out the menu.  

Caroline Howard

Northern Virginia native turned southerner at The University of South Carolina. My skills include planning 4,000 attendee corporate events and then blogging about them.

My friends always ask where I am, because when I'm not behind my laptop writing, I'm off exploring new places like Cuba and Spain.

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