Catering Set Up

When you’re trying to plan a gathering for a group of people—whether it’s for a work event, a bridal shower, or a family reunion—one of the most important parts of the event is the food. Although it might sound like a simple task, there are so many things to consider when you’re trying to plan a catered meal for a large group. You not only have to ensure you’re choosing a caterer with a stellar reputation, but you also have to think about what kinds of menu items you want to serve, how the food should be served, and whether or not anyone in your crowd will have any food allergies.

Have an event coming up? Here’s everything you need to know about setting up catering that will impress each and every one of your guests.

Rotary Step Down event at the Santa Barbara Polo Field, 2017

Rotary Step Down event at the Santa Barbara Polo Field, 2017

First, Choose a Great Caterer

The best way to ensure that your event goes smoothly is to partner with a great caterer. Start your caterer search by looking online for glowing reviews and asking friends or coworkers for recommendations of good companies to work with.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to two or three choices, set up meetings with them to get a good feel for what their pricing structure is like, what kinds of menus they offer, and whether or not they’ll be a proper fit for your event. Be sure to take a notebook with you and write down any questions or concerns that you have (as well as write down any tasting notes during your meeting).

Above all, make sure you’re choosing a professional who is responsive, accommodating, and who has reasonable flexibility.

Rotary Step Down event at the Santa Barbara Polo Field, 2017

Rotary Step Down event at the Santa Barbara Polo Field, 2017

Think About Who Your Guests Will Be and Choose a Menu Based on Their Tastes

No two parties are the same, and you probably wouldn’t serve the same food to a group of ladies attending a baby shower as you would for a family reunion with people of all ages. You need to think about who your guests will be and choose a menu based on their tastes.

For example, if you were planning a catered event for health and fitness professionals, you probably wouldn’t want to serve them a full barbecue dinner. You’d want to choose lighter options like salads, fish, and grilled meats instead. When you’re planning a catered meal for older people, you might want to tone down the menu and don’t offer anything super spicy or items that could be hard on digestion.  On the other hand a catering for a wedding might be a time to try something more exciting.

Take the demographics of your guests into consideration when you’re picking the menu. You’re not going to please everyone of course, but being mindful of who is attending will go a long way.

Don’t Forget to Factor in Any Dietary Restrictions

Nut allergies, gluten intolerance, vegetarians, lactose intolerance, and other dietary restrictions are all things that you need to be mindful of when you’re planning a menu for a large group of people.

The best way to ensure you are offering an alternative meal for those with dietary restrictions is to send out an invitation to the event that asks attendees to indicate if they need any accommodations made. Work with your caterer to see what the most cost-effective menu items would be for those who need a vegetarian, gluten-free, or dairy-free meal.

Think About How You Want the Food Served

The way your food is served will be determined by what kind of event it will be. If you’re hosting an event that will feature speakers throughout the day that requires the full attention of your guests, it might be best if your meal is plated by servers who are available to refill drinks and clear plates. However, if you’re hosting an event that is more come-and-go, a buffet might be more appropriate so that guests don’t have to worry about staying for the entire event in order to get fed.

Work with your caterer and discuss the best way to serve the food and whether or not it requires extra staff on the day.

Don’t Forget About Presentation

When you have a good presentation of your food, it gives it an added element of elegance and if often makes the food taste even better. Your caterer should provide you with a few options on presentation of the food, whether it’s serving food out of silver chafing dishes in a buffet or ensuring that plated meals look clean and appetizing.

If you’re looking for catering for your next big event, consider the catering services of Jack’s Bistro & Famous Bagels. We offer catering services to Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Carpinteria, Ventura, and Oxnard areas and have a wide menu selection for you choose from. Call Justen Alfama, our Catering Coordinator at 805-566-1558 x4 for more information!