CATERING COMES IN ALL FLAVORS AND SIZES
Caterers and Catering Services
Like events, catering companies range in size, from small one-person operations to local branches of national companies. Some caterers are "on-site" - they
prepare and cook the food at the location at which it's going to be served. Others do both "on-site" and "off-site," meaning they will also bring pre-cooked
food to the location, rather than preparing it on-site. Increasingly, many caterers are mobile - they work out of a food truck and will bring
the "facility" to you!
For the most part, just about any kind of food you want is available from catering companies, from vegetable crudites to coq-au-vin to whole-hog pit-roasted barbecue.
While some caterers specialize in one particular area (clambakes, bbq, vegetarian/vegan, etc.), many will customize their menu to suit your wishes.
Caterers can generally handle any size event, from small and intimate to over-the-top large, but always make sure to have your event description, size, location, and date ready before you start checking out catering companies.
When most people think about catering, what usually springs to mind is a "catered event:" a wedding, gala party, or any other event with full-service
catering. However, the majority of catering companies are very flexible in terms of providing alternatives to full catering.
There are many ways to handle using a
caterer for an event: you can let them handle everything, from tables/linens, serving, and cocktails to desserts, or you can pick and choose their level of
involvement. Sometimes you may just want them to provide the food and nothing more; sometimes you may want them to handle serving
the main course only. Perhaps you want to make the majority of the food, but have a single, staffed
station for the main dish. The options are endless, and limited only by your imagination and the willingness of the caterer you choose. See our article
Catering Alternatives for more information and ideas for alternatives to Full-Service catering.
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Finding and Choosing a Caterer
The best way to choose a caterer is actually to have seen (and tasted their food) in action. Get recommendations from your friends, check out local foodie
showcases, and check the internet, phone books, and local business sites. Don't even bother talking to caterers until you have at least a fair idea of
the scope, date, and attendees for your event, or you'll end up frustrated and wasting their time as well as yours.
For full information, see our article on "Choosing a Caterer" to get all the specifics.