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Questions to Ask Your Caterer Before Signing a Contract

Questions to Ask Your Caterer Before Signing a Contract

Good food makes for a good party. Serve delicious dishes, and your guests will remember the event for years. Because the cuisine is such an important element of your event, it’s important to do your research before hiring an event catering company. Luckily, this is fairly easy research to do. Just have an open discussion with your catering company before you sign a contract. Here are the key questions we recommend you ask.

1. “How Many Guests Can You Accommodate?”

If you already know how many guests you’re inviting, simply ask the caterer if they can accommodate a party of that size. If you’re still working on a guest list, ask the caterer about the range of party sizes they can accommodate. Some caterers exclusively work with smaller, more intimate parties, while others are set up to handle large-scale events.

At Premier Event Catering, we can accommodate parties of virtually any size. We have space for up to 700 at the ATJC, and we’ve catered off-site gatherings with 2000+ guests. We’ve also catered small, intimate family parties.

2. “How Much Space Do You Need at the Venue?”

You want to make sure your venue has enough space for your caterers to set up. If you’ve already booked a venue, ask your caterer if they have worked there before. If they have not, then you’ll want to reach out to the venue and see how much space they have for caterers to set up. Make sure your catering company is comfortable operating in the space allowed.

3. “How Long Before The Event Will You Arrive?”

If you plan on serving dinner at 6:00, what time will your catering team need to arrive and set up? Their answer will depend on your menu, the size of the event, and even the venue’s layout. Make sure you can accommodate the caterers’ chosen arrival time. Also, reach out to your venue and make sure the arrival time works for them. You want to be sure the caterers won’t interfere with another party or event when setting up.

4. “Can You Customize the Menu?”

Some catering companies offer a prix-fixe menu or several prix-fixe menu options. This can work out alright if you like everything on that menu. However, you’re usually better off hiring a catering company that’s willing to customize the menu. This way, you can add dishes you know your guests will love, and eliminate dishes you know won’t suit their palates.

Premier Event Catering employs experienced chefs who love to get creative in the kitchen. We can absolutely customize your event menu. In fact, we encourage you to customize.

5. “Where Do You Source Your Ingredients?”

Delicious food starts with delicious, well-sourced ingredients. Be wary of catering companies that are unwilling to discuss their ingredient sourcing. Caterers who source their food locally from smaller purveyors are generally more than happy to share this detail. Sourcing food locally is more sustainable and helps keep quality consistent.

As a Kosher catering company, Premier Event Catering is very particular with our ingredient sourcing. We work with local providers whenever possible. All of our meat and eggs come from Kosher butcher shops, so we know exactly how these products have been handled and prepared. We’re happy to tell you more about our specific providers upon request.

6. “Can You Accommodate Our Guests’ Specific Dietary Needs?”

Maybe you have a couple of vegetarian guests. Or perhaps most of your attendees keep Kosher. Regardless of what your dietary needs may be, make sure you ask whether the catering company can accommodate them. Be specific, here. Ask what steps the company will take to ensure the meals being served are prepared according to your preferences.

For example, as a Kosher catering company, Premier Event Catering operates in a Kosher kitchen. This means all of our dairy and meat-based dishes are prepared on separate appliances and using separate equipment. Not only does this adhere to kosher standards, but it also makes our dairy-based dishes well-suited to the needs of vegetarians. None of our cheese-based dishes contain or have come into contact with any meat.

7. “When Do You Need a Final Head Count?”

Head counts always seem to change as an event draws closer. You may be expecting 100 guests right now, but you can count on a few canceling or adding before the event. So, always ask your catering team when they will need a final head count. This way, you can set an RSVP deadline accordingly. 

Understand that while caterers are often happy to be flexible, they do have to set a cutoff date for headcount. Your caterer needs to order ingredients from their purveyors. If you change the headcount after they have placed the order, they may not be able to get additional ingredients or request reimbursement for ingredients they’ve already ordered.

8. “Will You Provide Linens and Table Settings?”

If you are hosting the event at a caterer’s own event center, it is typical for them to either provide the linens or contract with a company that provides them. However, if you’re hiring a caterer to serve at an off-site venue, things are a bit more flexible. Some catering companies can provide linens and table settings upon request. Others include them in the contract by default. Still others do not provide these items and ask that you work with a separate linen company.

If your catering company does not provide table settings and linens, they should be able to refer you to local companies that do. Make sure you contact linen companies early as they have limited supplies and book up well in advance.

9. “What Is Your Cancellation Policy?”

Everyone hopes their event goes smoothly and according to plan. But unfortunately, there are cases in which hosts need to cancel events due to illness and other emergencies. Make sure you ask about the catering company’s cancelation policy prior to signing a contract. There may be a date by which you need to cancel to qualify for a refund. Or, the contract may specify that the caterer has a right to retain a deposit if you cancel past a certain date.

10. “When Is Payment Required?”

Typically, an event catering company will require a down payment to reserve your date. The balance of the charges may then be due either the day of the event or a few days prior to the event. For really large gatherings, some catering companies like to break down the payments even further, having you make several installments. There’s a lot of variety in the industry, so make sure you fully understand the fee schedule and payment dates before you sign a catering contract.

If you ask the questions above, you’ll be well informed prior to signing an event catering contract. Don’t hesitate to contact Premier Event Catering if you’re looking for a Kosher caterer in South Florida. We’ll be happy to discuss your event and our ability to meet your unique needs.