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Rita Okoye: Choosing the Right Caterer For Your Event

A caterer who makes food for house parties is often not the same as a professional caterer who has been trained and is used to serving large groups of people. So please don’t use amateurs. Hire a professional and get it right.

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Everyone looks forward to hosting a great event – there’s always so much excitement and buzz in the air. People look forward to having great food along with getting superb services at their events. As a professional caterer, it is your job to provide these.

From my wealth of experience as an event planner for Majestically Rare Events, here are a few things to look out for when choosing a great caterer:

Choose Professionals 

I’ve said this before and it’s worth mentioning again: A caterer who makes food for house parties is often not the same as a professional caterer who has been trained and is used to serving large groups of people. So please don’t use amateurs. Hire a professional and get it right.

Engage Local Caterers

It’s better to engage a professional caterer that is located near the event venue rather than someone who lives miles away or out of state. If it’s going to take more than an hour to deliver the food then there’s a risk that your caterer will be held up in traffic or the food won’t be fresh.

Choose Caterers That Stick to Time 

It’s frustrating when a caterer doesn’t show up at the designated time they agreed on to deliver food. This normally happens when a caterer has taken on too many jobs. I was at an event recently when the caterer didn’t show up on time and turned off his phone. This set the host into a panic mode because there was no plan B for food. Stick to professionals for the sake of your mental state.

Only the Best Table Settings Will Do 

A nicely decorated hall will look lousy with poor table settings. I remember attending an event with such lovely décor, only to notice that the cutlery was a poor sight. Everything was chipped. Insist on inspecting all tableware – including glasses, plates, knives, forks and charger plates. This will make your table decoration sparkle and look excellent.

Make Sure Your Caterers Provide Enough Servers 

Caterers that don’t understand the dynamics of teamwork can create havoc for the entire event. This normally happens when the caterer doesn’t provide enough waiters or servers. This can really frustrate guests who have been waiting patiently for food. Hostesses who are supposed to attend to guests are usually taken off their duties to help serve food. This means that hostesses will not be at their designated tables and will be blamed when things go wrong.

Expect Superior Customer Care 

Unfortunately, caterers with poor customer care can ruin an event that has taken months to plan. I have even witnessed a caterer shouting at the hosts and guests. The caterer did not value or understand good customer care. Caterers with a track record of delivering excellent customer care are those you should seek and work with.

Questions to ask:

  • What’s on the menu?
  • When will dinner be served?
  • Is it a buffet or plated service?
  • How many servers do you have?
  • How many serving points do you have?
  • How will you determine when a guest has been served to avoid double orders?
  • How long will it take to serve X amount of guests?
  • How will you deal with an unexpected inflow of guests? Especially if you live in Nigeria where showing up with uninvited guests is common.

A great caterer should know the answers and make provisions for possible risks. An unqualified caterer will make no plan, make excuses, blame others, create havoc and spoil the entire atmosphere of an event.

So what’s your experience been like with caterers? Have you had a caterer from hell? Please share your experience.

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