Serve The Soup Cold And The Ice Cream Warm.
Most of us think about what we like to eat instead of how this will be served to a large group. A sizzling plate of fajitas for a sit down dinner of 100 people would be exceedingly difficult to pull off well. A cold prepared dessert after a long outdoor event in the summer could also be difficult. Certain menu choices can require a lot of space and energy to keep them kept properly. Talk to your caterer to make sure that your choice of menu isn’t straining the venue’s resources or your budget.
Make Your Guests Leave Hungry.
How embarrassing is it to run out of food and still have hungry guests looking for more? Neither is it fun to have so much food that everyone is stuffed to the point of not wanting to take leftovers home with them.
How do you choose the right amount? You have to consider several factors like:
- The number of guests
- The duration of the event
- The type of event
- The type of food
- The time of day for the event
Sounds like a lot to consider right? Talk to your caterer. This is why they are professionals.
Get Your Guests Sick.
Professional caterers are trained so that they can properly cook, store, transport, and serve your food as well safely clean and sanitize all the equipment before your event. In addition to their education, they have a myriad of refrigerated trucks, warming units and insulated coolers to keep your food at a safe temperature at all times. Cooking and storing food is much different for 4 than 40 people. Resist the temptation ask your co-worker to bring in her killer potato salad without it being properly refrigerated all morning long. You might just wind up serving your guests more than you planned.
Be Insensitive To Your Guests.
Is your audience most women, men or evenly mixed? Serving an environmentalist group, cattle rancher’s association or an animal rights group? While serving veal to PETA would not go over well, their organic salad would fail to please the cattle ranchers by just as much. The Italian meats and cold cut platters that would thrill the VFW would be a dismal choice for the vegan group.
Obviously, these are all extreme examples but you get the point. Anytime that you are dealing with a group, the number one rule is:
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
Talk to your caterer about the makeup of your group to get plenty of fresh ideas that will be right on target for your guests.
Serve The Food Late.
Don’t ignore your agenda. Decide how much time and how many people you have to serve for the meal. For example a morning event that starts with a “meet & greet” would be great for a manned omelet bar. Several self serve buffet tables would be a much better choice if the event started off with a formal presentation.
Unsure about exactly when your group will break for lunch? Serving hot food would not be a good choice if lunch is served whenever the morning speaker is done as opposed to a scheduled break time. Box lunches will make sure that the quality of the food is at its peak no matter when the lunch break is.
If You Fail To Plan, You Have Planned To Fail
Certain key decisions have to be made before calling your caterer in order for your caterer to plan your meal properly. Deciding on these key areas early on will help make your event a success.
- What is your planned budget for the event? Be realistic.
- Where will the event be held? Your location or a 3rd party venue? Be sure to secure your venue.
- What kind of event are you planning?
- What is the date of your event?
- How many people will be eating?
- What time will your visitors be arriving?
- When will the meal be served?
- How long do you have for your guests to eat?
- What type of meal are you planning? Served, stations, buffet, box lunch, etc.
- What dietary restrictions and food allergies do your guests have?
- What kind of drinks do you want? Water, soda, juice, spirits, coffee, tea.
- Are you going to want rental china, glassware, silverware, etc. or paper and plastic?
If you don’t plan your event with enough lead time, getting the venue and menu that you want may become quite impossible.
Don’t Offer Your Guests A Menu Choice.
You will almost always have guests with food allergies, sensitivities, or restrictions. Are they allergic to peanuts, gluten, nuts, eggs, dairy, or sugar? Is their diet vegetarian, vegan, low carb, low fat, low sugar, or low sodium? Do they have religious requirements? Always try to find out what food issues your guests have ahead of time.
Your caterer can work with almost any food issue that your guests may have, just keep them informed.
What We’ve Got Here Is Failure To Communicate.
Don’t assume that everyone knows their roles. Talk to all they key players to make sure they know what they’re expected to do and when. Make sure that your guests are clear about when and where the event is scheduled for. Verify that the key roles are in place before the actual event day. Give yourself enough time to recover from problems.
Do Not Visualize The Event
After all, a few minutes spent visualizing the event from beginning to end would point out way too many items missing or gaps in planning. Who wants that, eh? Seriously, try this exercise with a second person and you’ll be amazed at how many things you didn’t realize that you need to plan. Try to keep in mind which presenters will need what equipment and tools for their presentations. Will people need to take notes?
Don’t Be Flexible
Since all events go according to plan without any surprises … OK, I can’t even finish that sentence without laughing. We all know that’s simply not true. Be flexible and keep your sense of humor. Always try to come up with a plan B to handle the issues and remember that not everything is under anyone’s control. Just remember, luck favors the prepared.