Bad service, inattention to dietary requirements or substandard food all have the power to leave a bitter taste in your guests’ mouths. H&E North has gathered together a few helpful tips, including insight from local catering companies in the north of the UK.
In most instances, food is the centerpiece to your events. Arduous meetings are often tempered with fresh pastries and hearty lunches, offering a well-earned break to colleagues, or a black-tie event lives or dies on the strength of its quality gala dinner menu.
Have a look at some of these key points to think about when considering catering an event…
Have an estimated head count ready to provide a caterer or event planner that allows them to get started on menu options. Give continuous updates as your corporate event draws near. If you want a buffet, most venues require a minimum of 35 guests.
Always overestimate your head count to account for last-minute attendees. If numbers increase on the day of the function, many venues reserve the right to substitute menu items to accommodate extra guests.
Set a budget
Are the top dogs at your company expecting steak and lobster for their board meetings but everyone else is left to get along with sandwich platters? A good menu should satisfy or even exceed all expectations, with everyone being looked after, regardless of the politics of office hierarchies.
Clarify and highlight what needs to be included in the budget and review it closely with management before you present your budget to a caterer or event planner. For more swanky affairs, don’t forget to account for table linens, china or flowers for the tables.
Think about your guests
If you’re looking to surprise employees for a job well done, a buffet will go over nicely, but if your corporate event is aimed at thanking the sales team for a successful year, a sit-down dinner is more suitable to show appreciation for year-long hard work. Focus on the feeling you hope to convey and that will help you plan your menu.
How about a theme?
Having a theme in mind will always help with coming up with a clear vision for the intended outcome of the event. James Brown, Head Chef and founder of Nomad Catering, who has trained in top restaurants in Leeds and served up bespoke dishes at a variety of events over the years, says: “The most important thing when starting the process of achieving the catering both you and your guests will be blown away with on the day is having a good idea of what it is you want and sticking to your guns…ask your caterer to reflect that in the style and presentation on the day.”
Stick to a schedule
Is your corporate event going to have multiple speakers and presentations? Plan the food service around the day’s schedule and work with an event planner or the caterer to consider the time taken for food preparation, service…and eating of course!
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to have enough menu variety to satisfy all your guests. Since many people can be vegetarian, vegan, eat a gluten-free diet or have religious restrictions to consider, you should inform your caterer or event planner that you’re seeking a few alternative options. In order to do this, it’s important that employees RSVP with their preferences stated, so make sure you prompt them to do so.
Impact Catering’s Top Tip
Sophie Hamer, Events Manager for Manchester’s Impact Catering, a family company specialising in creative events catering for clients including the BBC, University of Manchester, Deloitte, Burberry and the Whitworth Art Gallery, recommended: “My top tip is to always ask…being a small company we are very adaptable and will often create bespoke menus based on what our clients want. It makes the whole process a lot easier if clients come to us with details and ideas of what they actually want rather than asking for a generic quote.”