Who are the best Caterers and how to choose one?

In our earlier post, we shared some tips on how to choose a caterer like budget, testimonials, style, etc. Now once you have shortlisted some of the caterers, from among them let us tell you how you can finalize the Best wedding caterer. But before discussing this, let us first know why is it even important to have your wedding catered by the best caterer in town.

You see, when it comes to weddings, the single most important thing which will make the wedding a success or failure, is the experience your guests witness at your wedding. Just ask yourself, if you are invited to a wedding reception; as a guest would you be concerned with the décor or entertainment or bride & groom’s attire or your thoughts revolve around the food which you will be eating in while? Be honest. We all know the answer, of course, people come to the wedding to bless the couple no doubt in it, but they also accept the wedding invite mainly for the food treat they’re going to get at the dining table, not even on Groom or Bride’s attire.

With that said, know, the good food at your wedding party can outweigh a poor ambiance but the bad food will definitely leave a bitter impression on your guests and will overshadow the perfect décor or other entertainment.

In summary, great food can rescue your wedding from small mishaps that may occur at your wedding but a bad catering will send your guests to the doors or in the worst case send them to the restrooms. Needless to say 10 other issues like food shortage, food low on taste, low-quality food, type of serving whether quantified limited portions or unlimited portions till the guests are satisfied, etc., Hence opting for the best wedding caterer is very crucial for your function.

In addition to this, you also need to look at it from the budget aspect, because catering often shuffles between #1 & #2 spot in terms of cost, the other being the venue. The caterer you choose will leave you with the balance amount from your budget in to deciding other elements for your wedding celebration like décor, entertainment etc..

In fact, the food cost will vary dramatically between the caterers for the type of food, quality and services they offer, and in literal terms it is like comparing apples to oranges. (written with pun fun intention). 

We often have to deal with clients, who bring a quote 2-3 times lower than our quote and tell us to reduce the price. What they fail to see is, in the market you find all the types ranging from low-cost, budget friendly to high-end caterers simply because there is a market for  client of all budget types “low cost, budget and high end”

A high-end client would approach a high-end & more sophisticated Caterer, because to them Guests satisfaction is of importance & they don’t mind paying high price to these caterers, because they know they’re getting value for money. While people with limited budgets opt for budget caterers since for them budget is the criterion.

Never mind, what category of client of client you fall into, the following tips will definitely help you in choosing the best wedding caterer for your reception. Regardless of the occasion whether a wedding or any other function, you can follow the same checklist for choosing the best caterer for any of your function. 

So let’s dive into some of the points you need to consider when deciding for the Best Caterer: Ask yourself these questions for each of your shortlisted caterer from the following checklist:

  1. Is the Caterer prompt & responsive
  2. Is the Caterer showing personal interest
  3. Is the Caterer flexible and accommodative of my needs
  4. Is the Caterer able enough to handle my event
  5. Has the Caterer previously catered at the same venue
  6. What is included in the catering service
  7. How does the caterer work
  8. What is the experience of the catering company
  9. Is the Caterer having enough testimonials
  10. Is the Caterer open to provide references to talk to
  11. Is the Caterer professional and have a proper contract
  12. Is the Caterer registered in the local area to run catering business

1) The best caterer is the one who is Prompt & Responsive:

There are many caterers in the city who claim to be professional but when it comes to responding to the inquiries they often lack this professionalism. If the caterer is slow in responding to the inquiries; it means they do not take their clients seriously, which also mean they’re not so serious about their business . If the caterer is prompt in responding to your mails/calls take this as a note they are serious having business with you.

Tip: The best caterer is the one who is very responsive at every step, from onset of your 1st wedding inquiry to order finalization until the order is executed.

2) Is the Caterer showing personal interest:

Prompt responses are not the only thing you should see in a Caterer. Is the caterer showing personal interest is of equal importance too. Often the good caterers provide timely responses with specific replies to specific queries. As if doing the job. But the best caterer goes a step further and shows interest in your event making you feel as if it’s their family event.

On an average, 20-30% of communication should be from the Caterer asking you the event details and the balance 70-80% should be by you answering those queries of the Caterer.

Tip: The questions to anticipate from the caterers are:

>> Purpose of the event ie, occasion,

>> Details of the Venue,

>> Your Budget,

>> Your goal out of this event (what’s your vision for this event)

>> Is there a theme for your wedding event. Etc., these questions will help the caterers serve their clients in a better way.

Note: Showing personal interest and asking as many details as possible sets the best wedding caterer apart from the rest of the caterers.

3) A flexible caterer is the best and is accommodating of Client’s needs:

Usually, all caterers have their specific menu basically a standard menu which their team/chefs are good at. But a standard menu cannot be considered as a perfect menu which will suit the tastes of everybody. Hence, the caterer should be flexible enough to adapt to clients’ needs.  Like if you are hosting a theme wedding then the food you serve should complement the theme of your wedding.

If your caterer isn’t adaptive, the charm of your wedding is lost. So when choosing the best wedding caterer you cannot afford to miss this point. Ask your caterer if they have prior experience into catering such events or serving specific menus; if the answer is NO, check are they willing to be flexible to accommodate your requests?. This is not restricted to themed weddings, special requests can also be for dietary requirements or omission of specific ingredients, etc. the caterer should give in to your needs.

Tip: If they sound rigid then back off and head to the next caterer who is willing to accommodate your requests.

 The best Caterer should be able to handle the event:

Most of the Caterers specialize in large scale events however some caterers’ expertise is only smaller events like birthday parties, housewarming ceremonies or wedding receptions with a lesser guest count. You should get the facts right before finalizing the caterer. If you have shortlisted on the caterers ask them if they have expertise in catering to events of same or around similar capacity/guests count. If they affirm in yes, ask for references and talk to their previous clients and ask the questions you might have in your mind, like:

>> How well did the caterer execute their function,

>> Did the caterer deliver what they promised?

>> Were there any surprises in the event?

>> Will they consider taking the same caterer again in future etc.?

Caution: People have a tendency of getting easily influenced by others’ feedback, if the person is talking negatively about the caterer ask him/her on what basis is s/he telling this, is it their personal  experience or is their opinion influenced by someone in the guests or relatives, chances are the negative remark came out from the person because he wanted to do the catering on own or wanted to arrange one of their acquaintance to this function and because the client did not entertain them and went ahead with a caterer of their choice. They had to say all but good about the caterer.

5) Has the Caterer previously catered at the same venue?

Hiring a Caterer who has previously catered at the same venue as yours will save you from quite a few surprises especially when you choose a venue having a clause of “certain rules to be followed”. For example, some venues do not allow charcoal / cooking on wood for the reason of avoiding the smoke.  when the caterer all prepared reaches the venue only to find wood ain’t allowed, you’ll be in a shock as to how the gas cookers & cylinders need to be arranged, or if the cooking is to be on induction how is that going to be done.

Even at Elite Caterers, we have found it a lot simpler and easier carrying out catering orders at the venues we had previously catered as compared to the venues we are catering for the first time. Hence, it is best to ask your caterer if they have prior experience, additionally, a site visit is highly encouraged even if the caterer is familiar with the venue.

6) What is included in the Catering Service?

Food catering usually covers only food. Serving staff, serve-ware, dining tables, etc. are mostly supplied by the venue management. However, it does not harm you if things are clear from the beginning, ask your caterer what is included in the price they’ve quoted. Comparing the price for the given service with other caterers will give you a fair idea about where each caterer stands, if the price quoted seems too high or too low compared to average of others, ask the caterer the reason of this difference, are there any services included in it other than food, if not ask them the source of the ingredients, raw food items etc., because the quality of food is the single most criterion to decide on the price of the quote and how the final outcome of the cooked food is going to be.

Like we mentioned at the beginning of this post, price of the catering quote varies from caterer to caterer depending on the class of the caterer. Another aspect could be the serve-ware, if your order requires the serve-ware from the Caterer, you have to see whether all caterers are supplying the same, otherwise the comparison would be meaningless if you are questioning a caterer with highest price with fine china serve-ware because the other caterer’s quote is too low – you might have overlooked this caterer is supplying plastic serve ware.

So you will need to carefully review each quotation so as not to compare the price of a sophisticated caterer delivering 5-star service with a budget Caterer who may compromise on the quality of ingredients & cooking methods.

7) How does the Caterer work?

You definitely need to ask your Caterer about their action Plan if you award the order to them. 

The professional caterers like other businesses have Quality plan, strategy plan, business plan etc. which they follow in their business. If your caterer provides this, meaning you can relax as they can be termed as professional catering company and that they’ll follow what has been communicated to you, whether it is procuring of material, logistics, cooking, food handling or serving.

Tip: Like wedding planner is to the décor of the venue and other elements, a caterer is to the dining table, a good caterer will take great care in designing the décor of the table matching the food presentation.

8) What is the experience of the Catering Company?

People learn from their mistakes, this famous saying fits every business or an individual. The more experience you have the more you grow, when deciding on the caterer, you should definitely see how old this business is. Minimum of 3 years and comfortably 5-6 years of experience should be the criterion when you are looking for a caterer for the wedding reception with high guest count. You definitely do not want to get surprises at the most memorable event of your life.

Besides years of experience, you also need to check if the catering company has rich experience in catering different occasions like Weddings, corporate, small parties, indoor, outdoor catering, catering in banquet halls to huge function halls, catering for small crowd to large crowds. Look at their business website for photos of their catered events. These parameters will ensure your caterer is having vast experience and chances of your wedding reception being a huge success will be higher.

Tip: Know that a professional catering company with rich experience will deliver an exceptionally inspired wedding.

9) Is the Caterer having enough Testimonials?

Online reviews, client testimonials on Caterer’s website, and personal recommendations are something you shouldn’t ignore. Look online at oogle reviews, or other platforms where your caterer is listed. Carefully glance thru all the reviews. If there are many and you are short of time, then filter the reviews and read top rated to least rated reviews to analyze the caterer’s ability & service. This will greatly help you in deciding who could be the best Caterer for your wedding reception.  

10) Is the Caterer open to providing references?

After shortlisting the caterers, ask the caterer to provide references of their previous clients. Don’t just ask for their names, but their contacts. A good caterer will not hide the information. You can specifically request the reference of someone whose review on google rating / testimonials websites caught your attention.

11) Professional catering company should have a proper contract:

One of the things that will ensure you are dealing with professionally top rated catering company is that they’ll have a contract in place. Do not be suspicious, the contract is simply to safeguard them as well as their client (you) from unforeseen scenarios.

The contract should be clear on:

>> Scope of the Caterer,

>> Scope of Client,

>> Detailed menu with each item listed clearly,

>> Type of catering service,

>> Event and Venue details, number of guests,

>> Scope is the leftover food (by default the leftover food is the property of the caterer and is taken by the caterer after the event is over – however you can place request in advance if you like to take some portion of the leftovers).

Tip: You know you are dealing with best wedding caterer if they are transparent in everything even small details like setup / cleanup, when to serve, leftovers, payment terms etc

12) Is the Caterer registered in the local area to run catering business?

One of the criteria of finalizing the caterer for your wedding reception is ensuring if the caterer is registered with the local governing body. 

Considering a registered catering company will save you all the surprises you may have to encounter dealing with unprofessional /unregistered company.

So these are the top 12 points you should consider when on a lookout for the best wedding caterer for your wedding reception. We hope this checklist will serve as a guide and save you lot of time.

Share in the comments below your own way of choosing the best caterer for your functions and let others know also, most appropriate comments will be included as additional points in our current after modifying the current post.

If you want to know what all questions you should be asking your wedding caterer then head straight to theknot’s blog “questions to ask your wedding caterer”.

× Let's WhatsApp