Questions to Ask Your Caterer: Finding the Ideal Catering Company 

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Great events often center around amazing food. Whether you’re hosting a corporate event for teams and clients or a wedding reception, delicious food can quickly elevate experiences to new heights. More often than not, however, you might not have the resources, time, or skills to create a phenomenal feast yourself. That’s where the ideal catering company comes in. 

An exceptional catering service ensures you can delegate the art of creating incredible meals, serving dishes, and more to a team of experienced professionals. This gives you more time to focus on interacting with guests and enjoying the experience. 

The question is, with so many local catering companies to choose from, how do you make the right choice? The first step is knowing which questions to ask your caterer. 

Today, we’re covering some of the most important questions you should ask your catering company, to ensure they can offer you and your guests the perfect experience. 

Ask About Menu Options and Flexibility

Probably the most important thing you’ll focus on when choosing a caterer is the type of food they can offer. Some caterers specialize in specific styles of food, such as Mexican or Italian cuisine, while others can give you a huge variety of meals to choose from. 

If you’re going to be hosting a multi-day event, or you need your caterer to provide food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, variety is essential. For instance, when Marbled LA worked with the SZA group, we ensured they had a diverse range of meals to choose from, to suit every taste. 

Ask your caterer:

  • What type of menu options can you offer? For instance, do they offer a selection of solutions for formal catering and sit-down meals, as well as interactive buffets? What cuisine styles and themes can they adapt to?
  • How customizable are the menus? Can you comprehensively change or alter your menu to adhere to different dietary restrictions and preferences? Can your caterer accommodate requests for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free meals, or avoid certain allergens in their food?
  • Can you accommodate last-minute changes? Will you be able to adapt your catering menu at the last minute, if you discover you have more guests than you originally expected, or if someone provides information about an allergy you weren’t aware of?
  • How are menu prices determined? Are there different pricing tiers to consider for different types of menus? Can your potential caterer explain how different upgrades to certain meals and menu options will affect your bill?
  • Can you provide a sample menu? Can your caterer give you a sample menu with various options to choose from, making it easier to select the right choices for your event? Can they discuss theme options and requirements with you?

Ask Your Caterer About Logistics

While the quality and variety of food your caterers offer makes a big difference to the success of your event, it’s important to think about logistics too. There are different challenges to consider whether you’re looking for production catering services, corporate event catering, or tour catering

The right caterer should be able to work with you to ensure you can quickly get meals and food to guests and even offer support and service throughout the event. Questions to ask include:

  • When will you arrive? When can you expect your caterer to arrive at your event? How much time do they need to set up, and how committed are they to delivering prompt service? How will they ensure everything goes smoothly?
  • What equipment and facilities are required? Does your catering company require an on-site kitchen, or can they work without one? For instance, Marbled LA delivered delicious meals to the Enhypen production team, in a venue without a kitchen. 
  • What’s included in the catering package? Can your caterers provide access to setup support, cleanup services, and even staff to help distribute meals or manage buffet stations? Are there options to hire bar staff to create cocktails and distribute drinks? 
  • How do you handle hygiene and food safety? How does your caterer adhere to food safety and hygiene standards? Do they have strategies in place to ensure your guests are protected from contaminants and other issues? 
  • Can you support sustainable catering? Can your caterer adapt to your requirements for sustainability? Can they take a no-waste approach to their catering services, and give you reusable cutlery and plates to avoid waste when necessary?

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Discuss Costs and Payment

When it comes to the most important questions to ask your caterer, queries about costs are often at the top of the list for most customers. It’s important to ensure you know exactly what you’re going to be paying for, and that there are no “hidden fees” that might surprise you later on. 

Your personal or corporate catering service providers should be able to answer questions like:

  • What is included in the quote? What’s included in the price you’ve been given? Is it just the price of the food, or are there charges for staff and rentals too? Do you need to think about delivery fees for drop-off catering services
  • Are there any additional fees that might apply? Will you need to pay extra if you suddenly need to make a change to the menu or change the delivery time? Is there an extra fee to pay for certain changes to menu options?
  • What’s the payment schedule? When are you expected to pay for your service? Is there an initial deposit to consider? Do you have the option to pay in chunks, rather than all at once, and when is the final payment due?
  • What’s your policy on cancellations and changes? What happens if you need to cancel your catering service at the last minute? Are there still fees to pay? Will you need to pay extra if you want to hire more catering staff at the last minute?

Ask About Your Caterer’s Experience

No matter whether you’re investing in caterers for an upcoming tour, or a game day event, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting exceptional quality. Insights into your chosen company’s experience and background, as well as reviews and testimonials from previous customers, can help you make the right decision. Ask questions like:

  • How long have you been in business? Though newer companies can still deliver exceptional services, caterers with a long track record are often more trustworthy. Most caterers won’t last long if they don’t offer an exceptional experience. 
  • What kinds of events do you specialize in? Does your caterer have more experience with things like tour catering or corporate catering? Are they experienced in creating wedding feasts for a couple’s big day? Do they specialize in small or large events?
  • Can you provide testimonials? Most of the best caterers should be able to provide reviews and testimonials from previous happy clients. Some companies, like Marbled LA, even publish case studies and success studies you can review online. 
  • Have you catered for similar events? Even if your caterer specializes in a different type of event to yours, they may be able to show experience working on similar events in the past.
  • What sets you apart? What makes this caterer better, or different from the other solution providers in the market? Do they offer a bespoke level of customer service, give you more menu options, or have more expertise in certain areas?

Discuss Service and Staff

While there are plenty of catering companies out there that can simply “drop” food off at an event, there are also companies who can help you to ensure the occasion goes smoothly. If you’re going to be investing in staff for your event, ask questions like:

  • How many staff members will be provided for a buffet event? If you’re investing in buffet-style catering, how many people will be available to help with buffet setup and service? Can you request additional team members?
  • How can you support formal events? Can your vendor offer catering staff to assist with formal events? What will the ratio of waiting staff to guest count be, and how will your team ensure an excellent level of service?
  • Can you provide a dedicated point of contact? Who will be responsible for ensuring everything runs smoothly at your event? Who should be your go-to individual if you have an important question about food and setup?
  • How will you handle last-minute changes or requests? How will the staff handle last-minute changes to guest count or food requirements during the event? Can they adapt to special requests at the last minute?
  • Can specialist staff be provided: Can you request support from bartending staff, or specific professionals to help with certain parts of the event? 

Asking Your Caterer The Right Questions

Knowing which questions to ask your caterer is crucial to ensuring you can invest in the right support for your upcoming event. Asking questions about everything from the menu options available to the staff provided and even the logistical aspects of the service can help you make the right choice.

The more insights you can gain from your caterer, the more likely you are to end up with an incredible dining experience. Here at Marbled LA, we’re committed to ensuring our customers always get the bespoke experience they’re looking for. 

We’re always on hand to answer your catering questions and can adapt our service to suit any need, whether you’re looking for a buffet or formal catering, drop-off services, or something entirely unique. We’ve supported countless events of various types and sizes, and always prioritize a combination of exceptional service, delicious food, and affordability. 

Contact Marbled LA today to ask us all of your event catering questions, and book the ideal catering experience for your next event. 

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