The following checklist was
compiled with the assistance of the catering department at the
Boston Marriott Copley Place (www.marriott.com).
What is the nature of the event
(awards ceremony, business meeting, fund-raiser, gala dinner, dance
or other social occasion)?
Is the function part of a meeting or
a stand-alone event?
How many people are expected to
attend? Is this a first-time event? If not, use data from previous
functions to help determine numbers.
Where and how will the event be
catered (on or off site, using a hotel’s catering department or an
If the event will be off site, does
the venue require you to use its preferred caterer(s)?
If the event will be off site, are
there adequate cooking and food-preparation facilities, including
freezers, refrigerators and running water?
Does the site have adequate general
storage and load-in/load-out access?
Will any VIPs be present?
Will the event have a theme?
Will there be live
Will alcohol be served?
What is the budget?
PLANNING FOOD &
Begin planning as far out as possible
to get the best prices for food and labor.
Provide the caterer with details of
the event, including the number of expected attendees, date, time,
location, theme and host organization.
If using an off-site facility,
arrange for the caterer to site-inspect the venue and kitchen
Discuss with the caterer any dishes
that were not successful with this group or for this event in the
past. Provide a list of preferred foods and items to avoid.
Address food allergies, vegetarian
requests and any particular ethnic or religious preferences. (A
general rule of thumb: About 5 percent of attendees will request
Determine the serving format: buffet,
plated, French or Russian.
If considering a buffet, ask for a
selection of foods that stay fresh and hold up well.
Consider whether food will be
prepared on site or made in advance and then transported to the
event. Some types of fish, such as sole and flounder, do not hold
up well if prepared ahead of time.
Determine cleanup procedures. If
catering staff will handle the cleanup, ask if an extra fee
Before committing to a final menu
selection, ask the caterer to organize a tasting for you and
possibly several event stakeholders.
If alcoholic beverages will be
served, ask for recommendations of wines within budget that will
complement your meal. If you are allowed to purchase wine from an
outside vendor, will the caterer charge a corkage fee?
FINAL CHECKSInspect the caterer’s facility to determine cleanliness, food
storage methods, etc.Ask to see the caterer’s business license and health department
certification; reputable firms should have both. Ask whether silverware and linens are included in the
quoted price. Determine the number of waitstaff necessary. Discuss the
professionalism and attire expected of the waitstaff.Ask outside caterers for at least three references, and check
them before signing a contract. Provide the caterer with a final head count 48 hours before the