How Caterers Charge For Taste Testings

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Planning a large event can be both exciting and overwhelming, and one crucial aspect that often perplexes organizers is finding the right caterer. The world of catering is diverse, with prices varying significantly. To help you navigate this terrain, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on what to expect when scheduling a tasting and the potential charges that may lurk beneath the surface.

Scheduling a Tasting: Time and Place Matter

When selecting a caterer, scheduling a tasting is a crucial step. However, the process involves considerations such as time and place. Some caterers are only available at specific hours, potentially requiring meetings before or after regular business hours, especially if they operate from a restaurant. Confirming the meeting location, whether at the caterer’s office or your home, is also essential.

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Preparation Tips for a Successful Tasting

Before heading to the tasting, come prepared. Have exact event dates ready, as caterers can get booked quickly. Additionally, be ready to provide a downpayment, usually around 5% of the projected cost. This deposit is refundable, but cancellation after a specified period may result in forfeiture.

What to Expect at a Tasting: A Culinary Journey

Tastings are the highlight of the catering selection process, where you get to sample a variety of dishes and desserts. Some caterers may offer complimentary tastings, while others may charge around $50 per head. During tastings, dietary restrictions are discussed, and you may have the opportunity to select wines and spirits if offered by the catering company.

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Unveiling Hidden Charges: Beyond Tastings

While tastings are expected to incur costs, there are other potential charges that might surprise you:

  1. Scheduling Fees: Booking caterers for weekends or peak hours may result in higher charges.
  2. Meeting Costs: Caterers may charge by the hour for consultations, ranging from $20 to $100.
  3. Utensils and Plates: If the venue doesn’t provide these, borrowing from the caterer can accrue additional costs.
  4. Serving Style: Buffet-style service is generally more cost-effective than hiring waitstaff for a served event.
  5. Courses: Additional courses in a meal, especially for a full five-course affair, can escalate prices significantly.
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Key Questions to Ask Your Caterer

To ensure you get the best deal and avoid any surprises, consider asking your caterer:

  1. Experience: How frequently do you cater to [insert your event type]?
  2. License: Are you licensed by the County or State, and do you offer alcohol services?
  3. Setup Time: How long will it take for the caterer to set up?
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