You have decided to throw a party and to make sure it is as successful as it can be - and you can enjoy yourself as much as possible - you have decided to hire a catering company to take care of the food and the menu planning. That is a great first step, but now comes the formidable task of whittling down the list of caterers to choose from. There are dozens of catering companies out there, not to mention the many Appleton, Wisconsin restaurants that also have catering programs. Here are a few tips to consider to help you determine what catering company is best for you.
1) Figure out the size and scope of the party. Just like any other event, you cannot make any concrete plans until you have a sense of the parameters. Are you thinking of having a cocktail and appetizer party for a few hours, a formal dinner for a select number of guests, or an open ended open house? Will people be coming with an expectation that they will be having a meal - a crucial consideration if the party is indeed scheduled to overlap a typical meal time, especially dinner - or is it simply going to be a light affair? Many catering companies offer very specific services, so knowing all this ahead of time will help you eliminate probably 80% or more of the potential choices.
2) To theme or not to theme, that is the question. Some people like to have a specific theme to their parties while others are more casual. Where do you fit on this spectrum? Sometimes the theme can help lead you to the best caterer while other times choosing a particular caterer may inspire a theme.
3) Be sure to match the food with the drink. These days people are getting more adventurous and direct with what they are drinking, and it is not uncommon to see people focus their party around craft beers, particular wines or classic cocktails. Much like choosing a caterer based on a possible theme, if there is going to be a distinct beverage of choice, make sure the it fits the food and vice versa.
4) It looks good, but how does it taste? When you have it narrowed down to a final few, ask about a tasting menu so you can sample what they offer. No two chefs work the same way, and this is important especially if the menu is a little more daring than chips & salsa and franks & beans.
Hiring a caterer is easier than you might think, as long as you have a solid foundation going in of what you are looking for. Instead of being overwhelmed by all of the choices out there, remind yourself instead that it just means the perfect catering company is out there, waiting for you.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been covering the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com