If you’re planning an event, chances are having a caterer will simplify your duties and ensure a comfortable, enjoyable, tasteful (and tasty!) time. When you have chosen your caterer, keep in mind the many, many options you have. Almost all menus are flexible, and many caterers will make exceptions and create special dishes to suit your dietary needs, preferences, and theme. Building a menu can be fun and easy. Be sure to have a head count several weeks before your event, and let your caterer know before you build your menu. That way, he will be able to assess the logistics behind choosing a certain kind of food for a certain amount of people.

For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, your menu will most frequently included a combination of pre-packaged options and a la carte dishes that you and your caterer have agreed upon. Many caterers will request meal choices for each guest in advance if they are serving dinner.

Standard breakfasts are made up of continental options and vegetarian alternatives. Many are set up as buffets, and will have a cereal bar and a bagel stand for more picky or health-conscious eaters.

Most lunches are served with pre-packaged options, such as sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Most often there are turkey, roast beef, and ham sandwiches, veggie and portabella wraps, and the choice between Caesar and mixed salads. You can also request for a soup and salad bar.

Dinners are easiest and most elegantly done with pre-packaged options. This often spreads out into a three or five course meal, which allows the guest to choose their appetizer, soup, salad, protein and vegetable, and dessert. Dinners require the most planning, and also display the caterer’s talent most. Thoroughly sample and discuss his ideas for your event, but don’t be afraid to make requests of your own.

Many caterers offer smaller-scale options for receptions, breaks, and award shows. They often charge per person, and provide a variety of sampling plates. Children-friendly options include fruit platters, veggie plates with different dipping sauces, standard American hors d’oeuvres, fondue plates, and the classic cheese and crackers.

Keep in mind when deciding between plated and buffet events that plated events often require two or more hours in order to serve your guests adequately, and clean up after the meal. It is only advisable to choose a plated event if you have ample time and a leisurely setting. Most often, only dinners will need to be plated.

Buffets most frequently take between one and two hours, and are the best choice for lunches and breakfasts, as well as business meetings during the work week. Passed items are only acceptable for receptions and pre-dinner gatherings.

Mr. Oliver is a marketing agent of DeFazio’s Catering. The catering company provides catering services for cocktail parties, weddings, and more throughout the Richmond Virginia area. For more information on their Catering Service Richmond Virginia please visit their website.

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