HIRING YOUR OWN CATERER
Hiring a caterer or personal chef can be a fairly daunting experience, especially here on the Costa del Sol, there are cowboys in every industry and catering is no exception. Here are a few pointers to help you find the right chef / company for your event and hopefully help you to negotiate a fair price with quality food and excellent service!
1.Who are your food suppliers?
If the source of your food is important to you, find out where it's from. Is it local? Organic? From the supermarket? If so which one? If your being charged extra for organic vegetables and meats, make sure it is!
2.Are you catering any other events on that day?
This may seem an odd question to ask, but depending on the size of your event/party and the size of the catering company, taking on too much can effect both the quality of food and quality of service. Remember a good caterer/chef will prepare as close to the date as possible.
3.How many servers to guests will you supply?
Obviously this amount will vary greatly depending on the type of event. It is important that there is a sufficient number of servers supplied. If it merely states in your quote waiter/waitress service, find out how many that includes! a good rule of thumb is 1 per 10/14 guests at a seated, formal party, 1 per 20/25 at a more casual tray service and 1 per 35/40 at a buffet style event. Bar tending extra on top. Understaffing can lead to lower quality food, slow drinks, empty glasses and hungry guests!
4.What is included in the price?
Any of the following may or may not be included..
5.Is there flexibility in the menus?
Be particular, a good chef will accommodate, ask for a number of suggestions, allow yourself some choice. Maybe you have a favorite dish or dessert that you wish to have.
6.Can you help with a plan of timings?
It's important to meet and discuss timings, the caterers need to know guest arrival times, length of canapes, length of dinner, length of BBQ, length of bar, whatever the timings maybe, they should consolidate this into a plan agreed on by you. This allows smooth service and punctual quality.
7.Have you catered at this venue before?
It can take time for a chef or front of house manager to know his surroundings. It is not vital that they know the venue, it is however vital that they come pre-party for a scout, to find out seating, bar and kitchen arrangements. This avoids last minute panic!
8.Can you cater for kids, allergies and other dietary requirements?
The answer to this should (except in extreme circumstances) always be yes. (N.B It is vital to notify your caterer of any extreme and severe allergies)
9.What happens to leftovers?
Depending on the type of event it is more than likely there is food leftover. You've paid for the food, ask if it will be packaged and left if you require.
10.What will be the staffs attire?
It's nice for the staff to be recognizable from the guests. If its a black bow tie event, it's probably not a good idea for the staff to also be in black bow ties....the attire should match the style of the party whilst at the same time being identifiable. Most companies have a variation on their uniforms.
Neil Walton is an experienced chef with 25 plus years in the kitchen.