So you’re looking to cater an office meeting or networking event. Regardless of the formality of the event, the same catering questions and concerns remain regarding the amount of food, type of food, and so on. Lucky for you, we’re sharing some great tips on nailing the catering for your office meeting or company event.
When it comes to office catering, everyone loves a little variety. For a regularly-scheduled team lunch, hot food trays served buffet style are an impressive option. If you’re catering a working lunch, platters of finger foods may be easier and less messy. And if you want to impress clients, opt for a taco bar or Mediterranean mezze – this requires no extra effort, yet excites eaters as they get more variety and control in what they’re eating.
Hot Vs. Cold
The type of event you are catering will help determine whether you should serve hot or cold food. With team lunches, food is often the focus, which is why hot food is a smart choice. It is not only filling, but it is meant to be served and eaten right away. With a working meeting, food is more functional and thus, cold foods are a better option as there is no need to reheat in case a meeting runs long.
These days, vegetarian and gluten-free options are necessary. It is recommended that you provide at least 25% vegetarian options for a mixed crowd, as non-vegetarians enjoy meatless options as well. In addition, vegan, nut allergies and other requirements or intolerances among your guests need to be considered when planning your event catering. A simple RSVP asking for dietary requirements can help you choose the appropriate menu.
So how much food should you order? This is the most common question, and it really starts with you and your event. Think about what your attendees are expecting and what your goals are for catering this event. Which of these statements suits you?
A. We’re only providing food so that people show up to our event, but we’re really not looking to feed them a proper “meal”.
B. We want people to leave satisfied, but nothing too crazy.
C. We’re really looking to provide people with a good amount of food.
Once you decide which best suits your event, you can plan your choices around your budget. Budgets will dictate the amount of food that is ordered.
Aside from the budget, you need to consider the actual attendees. Aside from the head count, how many males and females will be there? Generally, men eat more than women, so if your guest list is mostly males, you will want to order extra portions, especially if it is buffet style.
Self-serve finger food platters will disappear much faster than passed trays. Typically, four canapés per person per hour is the minimum amount. While ending up with too much food is not ideal, it is much better than running out. Besides, the extra food will get eaten eventually.
Starting with a predetermined budget will make it easier to narrow down your catering options.
- Breakfast – The budget for one item (fruit cup, mini muffin, bacon and egg slider, cake slices, a serving of crackers and cheese) averages $5 each – some will be less, some will be more. Generally, 2-3 items per person for breakfast is preferable; for morning or afternoon teas, 1-2 pieces can be enough (keep goals for feeding guests in mind).
- Lunch/Dinner – An allowance of $10 is usually good for a full sandwich per person. A budget of up to $15 is normally enough to provide a reasonable amount of variety (ex. pasta, roasted meat, salad, or steamed veggies). This also depends on the number of people you are ordering for – the more people who eat, the more variety you can provide.
- Finger food/Networking – As mentioned, the general recommendation is 4 pieces per person per hour. High-quality canapés range from $2-$4 per item. Platters (meat and cheese board, antipasti, etc.) are a good, budget-friendly option without compromising quality. Anywhere from $10-$15 per person would be a decent budget for a light nibble.
You may also want to consider beverages for your event. If you will be serving alcohol at your event, a rough guideline is to allow one person one beverage per hour. But you should always have non-alcoholic options. Providing self-service water pitchers or jugs is generally more cost-effective and convenient – just be sure they are being refilled. For casual office events, you can provide individual bottles or set up a self-service station with larger bottles of water or juice and cups.
Reserve your order ahead of time to ensure you get the desired menu options, date, and time. Thos can also eliminate any last minute rushes and added stress. Check with your catering choices to see how much lead time they need for catering orders and plan accordingly.
Provide clear and complete delivery information – ex. parking instructions (if it is paid parking, this may be added to the final bill), logistics information (which may include loading docks or service lifts directions), and any other specific access information. Most importantly, the driver must have a contact name and number onsite to receive the deliver upon arrival. If you will be too busy to tend to this detail, designate someone else to be the main contact and ensure the delivery is correct, complete, and on-time.
Expect The Unexpected
Things don’t always go as planned. To accommodate a changing guest list, it is best to order for the minimum number of people you are anticipating (which reserves your spot) and then wait until the cut-off lead time to add to the order if necessary.
Did you know we offer catering services? From sandwich platters to salad trays to boxed lunches, we can cater to your needs! To learn more, call 909-596-5225 or visit BrickMarketDeli.com to explore our menu. And you can visit us in store for breakfast or lunch 6 days a week, and connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.