Large vs. Small Event Catering

After reading Mike Roman’s blog last week where he stated “often a party for 45 can have more problems than an event of 450,” it got me thinking about how true that statement really is. How many times have you been hired to cater a smaller event that had so many obstacles that it took up more time than your larger events?

It could be because smaller parties are often coordinated by people who are not event planners. Those events could be for families or small companies that don’t have a person who regularly coordinates events. There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just that as caterers, we then have to remember to ask more questions and offer more advice. There are exceptions, but experienced event coordinators tend to know what they want and what questions to ask to get the desired effect. On the other hand, coordinators for smaller events may not know exactly what they want and don’t even know what the possibilities are. They don’t know what they don’t know. In those cases it’s best to ask for as much information as you can and guide them toward making good decisions early in the process. You’ll have to explain more about how things will work so they understand what information you’ll need to put on a great event.

You may have to ask questions about or give a lesson on:

• Portion sizes and how to estimate numbers of guests
• What exactly is included in your price (i.e. tips, table linens, tables/chairs, wait staff)
• How food should be served and the benefits of each – buffet, served, passed
• Menu choices and dietary restrictions. Do you offer a tasting, so the client knows exactly what smoked salmon mousse is?
• Is there a theme that the food could enhance in some way?

It’s better to put the time in up front, ask the questions and know the full picture in order to be prepared, rather than suffer last minute changes or unmet expectations. That means more work in the early stages, but hopefully less headaches later on. You don’t get to choose what types of events come your way, but hopefully if you are prepared, it won’t matter if it’s a large or small event because they will all be outstanding events that generate lots of applause!