Selecting a caterer

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In some venues there is no choice of caterer; you are required to use the onsite caterer. To ensure the quality of the catering, it is advisable to:

  • Provide the chef with a brief containing the budget, the length of the reception/dinner, and the number and type of guests
  • View sample menus
  • Go for a menu tasting

When you go for a menu tasting be sure to enquire about wine, and also how the tables will be dressed. Take time to consider other dietary requirements, such as vegetarian, vegan or food allergies/ intolerances. Be aware that some caterers charge for a menu tasting, ask for any associated costs upfront.

The venue may have a list of preferred suppliers. It is worth questioning the venue on why those particular suppliers are on the list, and the strengths and weaknesses of each. Recommendations from those who have used the venue before are always helpful. Go through the process listed above to help with your selection of caterer and menu.

The University’s Events Office can also provide recommendations.

Decide in advance the type of caterer and food you would like at your event. Do you want traditional fare, or would you prefer more creative, contemporary dining?

How many waiting staff is the caterer recommending? The number of waiting staff will have a direct correlation on the speed at which your guests are served. Are the waiting staff tried and tested? Do they know what is expected of them, and are they good at doing it? The importance of good service at your event should never be underestimated.

After receiving some suggested menus, you should try and organise a menu tasting. Keep cultural tastes and dietary requirements in mind when deciding on your menu. Keep in mind any time constraints when deciding how many courses to serve.

Ensure that any quotes you receive are inclusive of waiting staff, hire of equipment and chefs etc. When calculating what quantities to order, the general rule of thumb is five glasses to a wine bottle and six glasses to a Champagne bottle. Some caterers will charge for the entire beverage order, whilst others will charge on a consumption basis. This can make a big difference to your budget, so enquire before placing your order.

You will need to view various health and safety documents from your chosen caterer. Please see the health and safety section in the toolkit for further information.



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Events Office