Interview with the Food Caterer (part 1)

There’s a couple of things you need to know before sitting down to discuss your options with your food caterer. New York-based chef and caterer Daniel Barber advises couples to have careful and constant communication in planning out their wedding reception. Barber, who has been in the catering industry for six years and has served many weddings, says that it is important for the bride and groom to discuss what they want for their reception and settle any differences before they meet with their prospect caterer.

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Once you’ve done that as a couple, take note of what you both want for your reception and fire away these important questions to find out if you are hiring the right caterer for your wedding.

Professional Experience

Start by establishing rapport with the caterer to make yourselves comfortable enough with each other to discuss what you really want for your reception. To do this, don’t get down on discussing the menu right away. Let your caterer get an idea of your food preferences first, particularly what  flavors you enjoy and the type of cuisine you like most. In turn, you should also get a better background on the caterer’s experience in the food and wedding industry.

Questions:

  • How long have you been in the business?
  • What are your best moments in food catering for weddings?
  • What are the challenges you have encountered and how did you cope?
  • Have you catered before in the venue of my reception? Are you familiar with their facility?
  • Do you specialize in a particular type of food service?
  • What are your specialties?

Food and Drinks Menu

Once you’re both acquainted with each other and you have a good overview of the caterer’s professional experience, you can then proceed with discussing the menu. In this part of the interview, see if the caterer is accommodating of your suggestions and flexible when it comes to customizing the menu to make it unique for your reception. Ask for 2 to 3 sets of dishes to match your wedding theme. It is also important that you request for a food tasting session and that the caterer will agree to this.

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Questions:

  • Do you offer food tasting? When are the schedules?
  • Can you offer a customized menu to complement my wedding theme?
  • Can you provide special set menus for guests with dietary restrictions, for children, and for vendors?
  • Do you offer leftover baskets?

Customer Service

Catering isn’t just about the food. Though food obviously is its most crucial part, poor presentation and service will lower the value even of excellent food. In this part of the interview know about the caterer’s approach to customer service as well as other offerings they might have such as wait staff, table setting, provision of tables and chairs and bar service. Get first-hand experience as well on how far they are willing to go for their customer’s convenience.

Questions:

  • Can you provide the tables, chairs, china, stemware, linens, and utensils?
  • Can you do the table setting as well?
  • How much wait staff would we need? How will they be attired?
  • Can I expect that you will be hands on with the set up and the actual service on the wedding day?
  • Do you have a health permit?
  • Do you have a liquor license? Can you offer to serve a bar?

Professional experience, food and drinks menu, and customer service are only some of the things you need to know before hiring a caterer. Aside from these, you need to be able to clearly discuss the caterer’s service rates as well as the commitment and contract. Read “Interview with the Food Caterer Part 2” to find out what other essential information you need to know through the right questions to ask.

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