Connecting with the right caterer for business or social purposes

FALLBROOK – Party hosts take on a significant amount of responsibility when they agree to entertain business associates, family, and/or friends. When such gatherings are especially large, some hosts opt to hire a caterer to feed their guests.

Catering companies or restaurants that offer catering services are often associated with just weddings and graduations, but such businesses also can be hired for less momentous occasions. Hiring a caterer for a home party is not necessarily the same as hiring one for a wedding. Couples about to tie the knot often receive a list of recommended caterers from the venue hosting their reception, and that list gives them a starting point for their caterer search right away. Such lists are not provided when hosting at home, but the following tips can help home hosts connect with the right caterer for their next get-together.

• Check Fallbrook resources first. Many restaurants in town offer a catering service as well and are very reliable and easy to work with. Ask the manager at a favorite local restaurant if they can cater a party offsite. This way there is already a familiarity in the arrangement and it’s easy to feel secure about the food choices.

• Seek recommendations. Ask friends, family and business colleagues if they know a good caterer. If a coworker is tasked with planning your company’s events, speak with that colleague about the nature of your party and ask if he or she can recommend some local caterers who might be able to meet the need.

• Comparison shop. There are many options out there. Keep an open mind and compare estimates based on your number of guests and food items selected.

• Ask if the caterer specializes in a particular cuisine or type of event. When speaking with various catering companies, ask each if they specialize in a particular type of food and if they are used to catering specific types of events. If the party is to carry a theme, then find a caterer who specializes in foods that fit into that theme. Also ask about the caterers experience in handling the type of event being organized. Many can effectively handle smaller soirees like a child’s birthday party to more elaborate corporate affairs, but knowing how much experience they have with a particular type of party can provide some peace of mind.

• Insist on a tasting if the food hasn’t been tried previously. It is possible to schedule tastings of the caterer’s menu. During the tasting, ask if the caterer uses frozen or fresh foods when preparing meals. Fresh foods are more favorable than frozen, and the bill likely reflects fresh food prices, so do not hesitate to request that only fresh foods are served at your party.

• Get a contract. Every host’s nightmare is inviting friends, family members or professional colleagues over only to have something go wrong with the food. Avoiding such stress is why many people hire caterers in the first place. But that stress is only avoided when hosts get a contract in writing that carefully details what the caterer is providing and when food will be served. Read the contract carefully before signing to ensure the cost and timing of the party is clearly illustrated.

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