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Gino Spano

When we think of catering, usually our minds go towards weddings and other special events, but let’s not forget about an equally important category: corporate event planning. After all, business professionals need to eat too!

If you’re involved in corporate event planning and have not yet found the right caterers, or you’re looking to hire someone new to handle your food and beverage needs, there are a few things you should ask to ensure you’re going to be happy with the services you’ve paid for. Here are six important questions to ask the caterers before making any hiring decisions.

1. Can You Provide a Wide Variety of Menu Choices, Including Options for Dietary Restrictions?

These days this is a very important question, as many people have specific dietary restrictions and lifestyle preferences. When you’re dealing with a large crowd you’re bound to have a few vegetarians, vegans, and non-dairy or gluten-sensitive people out there. That’s not even taking into account religious dietary needs. Nothing will put a damper on your event quicker than having some attendees go hungry as they watch others eat and enjoy themselves.

Asking whether your caterer can offer a variety of menu items to anticipate the potential dietary needs of your guests is paramount. No one attending your event should feel like his or her meal was an afterthought.

2. Can I Speak to Some Current Clients and/or Read Any Client Testimonials?

Anyone involved in corporate event planning is responsible for the success of their event, including the performance of the caterers. For this reason they must do some due diligence before hiring. 

Any great caterer will have loyal clients who are more than happy to speak about their work, and with social media and review sites being so popular, it should be fairly easy to read what others have to say about your potential caterers.

3. Do You Also Provide Wait Staff, Tables, Chairs and Other Equipment?

In the world of corporate event planning, you might end up hosting events at your own location or one where certain essential items are already taken care of. However, most times you will require rental equipment.

Asking your caterers about items like tables, chairs, and other equipment beforehand will give you peace of mind knowing that these things can be handled directly through your caterer. This is what we call a full service caterer. Dealing with multiple vendors can be time consuming, more expensive and also takes away the responsibility of ensure these items looked after.

4. What’s Included in Your Menu’s Price Per Person?

While most caterers will give you a menu price per person, it’s important to clarify what exactly will be included in this price as there can be unanticipated fees for things like condiments, plates, glassware, cutlery, servers and staff, etc.

5. How Do You Handle Last Minute Requests?

During the planning of any event, there are bound to be some last minute changes or requests. This is true of even the most prepared corporate event planners. It’s just the nature of the industry.

This is where knowing your caterer’s rules and procedures, as well as the costs, for any last minute changes are crucial. Knowing that your caterer understands and can accommodate such situations will provide peace of mind and lower stress levels—crucial for any event planner.

6. Can I Tour Your Kitchen?

This is a fairly important question to ask, as you’re going to want to see exactly where your food is being prepared, and to get to know who you’re partnering with.

Most caterers will invite you to see their facility and meet in person, but if they don’t, you should ask to do so yourself. If they decline, you might consider it a red flag.

Everything You Need to Know About Planning a Corporate Event

Gino Spano

Starting with roots in a kitchen at 14 years old, he worked his way up the ranks and by the young age of 17 was responsible for daily events of 50 to 600 people. Gino continued to use his talents to work in catering, banquet and restaurant kitchens across the GTA. His love for Italian, French and Asian cuisine paired with his wide variety of knowledge brought him success in his new venture at Seventh Heaven in 2001. Over the past 12 years, he has cooked many meals for social events, corporate events and government officials. His love for new challenges brought him into corporate sales where he and the Seventh Heaven team won Best Catered Event for Canadian Linen’s “The Great White North” – Facility Grand Opening in 2009.
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