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Six steps to choosing a caterer

28 October 2013, by Anne Aitken

If you are a secretary or PA who organises one or two parties a year, event organising can be daunting. Marketing Director Anne Aitken has identified six steps to help you choose, brief and manage your caterer successfully.

Step 1: Make a shortlist

Get a list of all caterers approved to work at your chosen venue and check out their websites. Identify three which look like they offer the kind of food, presentation and service you require and then pick up the phone and ask for a quote.

Step 2: Gather your thoughts

Think about the sort of food and drinks your guests will enjoy and talk it through. Most event caterers have a huge amount of experience and they can help you plan the best way to spend your money. This conversation will also give you an idea if you are likely to enjoy working together.

Step 3: Decipher the quote

Catering quotes can be confusing but simplest way to evaluate costs is to compare the Price per Head. If you don’t understand anything – call again and ask for an explanation. This is a proposal not a fixed plan so ask for changes if you aren’t happy and let the caterer know if you think the costs are too high – they might surprise you with an interesting alternative.

Step 4:  Make your mind up

Use the comparative costs, menu ideas and the chemistry you are feeling with the various caterers to help you reach a final decision. Organising an event can be stressful so also consider who is likely to offer you the most support.

Step 5: Taste the food

Ask for a tasting and take a colleague. Use this as an opportunity to work through all your menu options and, unless you are real foodie, listen to the advice of the chef in terms of creating a workable and balanced menu.

Step 6: Ask for a revised quote

Once you have made your final decision ask for a revised quote and an assurance that these costs will match your final invoice. It’s worth noting at this stage that most caterers will ask for half the costs a few weeks ahead of the event to cover their outgoings. Now you can relax, safe in the knowledge that your well-matched caterer will take care of a large part of your event, leaving you free to enjoy the occasion.

Jackson Gilmour creates incredibly stylish food from stunning and diverse ingredients to cater for corporate clients, charities, celebrities and royalty at many of London’s major landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral, The British Museum, the V&A, Science Museum, The Tower of London, The Wallace Collection and The Royal Hospital Chelsea.