With You All the Way

by Sharron Campbell,

Certified Meeting Professional, 30 years experience

Food & Beverage Catering Overview


Planning food and beverage functions can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding components of your job as a meeting or event coordinator, but it can also be one of the most frustrating.   If you have already established a good working relationship with a caterer, you are ahead of the game.  But catering policies and catering staff will change from year to year, so it is important to have a good understanding of the meal planning process before making any commitments either verbal or written.  Save yourself from unhappy surprises by knowing the right questions to ask up front.    

Working with caterers -
The preparation, presentation and service of food and beverage is an art form in which caterers and chefs take great pride.  Although you will have a budget to stay within, it will work to your advantage in most cases to approach your catering contact about menus and policies with an open mind and ask for suggestions.  The printed menus included in catering packets describe only standard choices available and will give you an idea of whether the caterer is within your price range, but printed menus never tell the whole story of what your caterer is capable of creating for you within your budget.   Ask them! 

Ask also about catering policies.  They vary from state to state, city to city, venue to venue, and caterer to caterer, and you may need to negotiate carefully before booking a venue if catering policies seem unreasonable.

Before making inquiries - 
Use these guidelines to help you prepare in advance, save time and control your budget ...

 bluebullet F&B Guidelines for choosing a caterer, creating function specifications, an expense worksheet ...
 bluebullet Go to Budgeting for more on establishing a budget for your event
 bluebullet Go to Set-Up Details for related info about seating and space requirements
 bluebullet View all Planning Helper Topics about meetings, events and social functions