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Guidelines for Successful Catering

Updated on September 8, 2009

Guidelines for Successful Catering

For a successful catering function, the following guidelines must be observed by the caterer:

Before the Catering Function

1.      Get all relevant information about the catering function.
This includes the occasion, the date and time, the venue

 and the available facilities, the type and number of guests expected and their characteristics, the menu specifications, the type of service preferred, and the budget. When the client is not in a position to give the above information, the caterer must be ready to give suggestions based on the nature of the activity, the requirements of the client, and the limitations of the situation.

2.      Develop menu proposals of varied price ranges for the
approval of the client or his/her representative. The menu
must consider the requirements of the client or catering

3. Discuss the menu with the client. Answer questions, give suggestions whenever necessary, and provide advice on matters that are not clear to him/her. At times, there may be a need to warn the client on the dangers of some practices, especially arrangements that could affect the quality of the food or the efficiency of the service.

4. Formalize in writing all the details pertinent to the function. Draw up a contract with the client. This should include detailed information on the menu, the (minimum and maximum) quantity to be prepared, the service procedures, the layout of the dining area, the service time. and other dining room decorations or table centerpieces. Agreements regarding cancellation or procedures for changes in the plan are also formalized.

5.                 Anticipate all possible problems and thresh these out with the client.

6.                Do not commit anything that you cannot provide.

7.                 Develop a good catering plan, detailing the number of people required, their specific duties and work schedules, and list of activities to be done prior to the catering.

During the Catering

1.    Observe all the specifications based on the agreement.

2.    Never be late for a catering function. Develop a realistic-work schedule for all catering activities.

3.    Taste all food to be served. Be sure they are at the right serving temperature and are served properly in the appropriate dishes.

4.    Check table arrangements and other details of the service.

5.    Do not panic when problems arise. This only comes because of poor planning. Remember, panic is contagious. If your staff see you in this emotional state, they will lose their confidence and make mistakes. This is embarrassing for you and the client.

6.    Be prepared for unanticipated occurrences, examples of which are:

a.    Breakages of table appointments, thus the need for extra pieces

b.    Arrival of more guests than anticipated

c.    Delays in guest arrival, thus, delaying service, possibly affecting the quality of the food and upsetting your work schedule

d.    Attendance of guests with special diets, for example, vegetarian or low salt

e.    Special requests from the guests, such as mineral water or a high chair for a child

After the Catering

1.    Evaluate your performance. Talk to your staff and ask for their comments.

2.    Get the opinion of the client. Ask for comments and suggestions.

3.    Find out if the guests were satisfied. One way is through the plate waste, or food left on the plate after the service, their look of satisfaction after the meal, or praises and thanks given to the client.

4.    Write down critical incidents about your catering and keep this on file. This may become useful, especially in the case of a repeat business.


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