ASK ABOUT THE CATERER’S FOOD PRODUCT
Get the caterer talking about their products. The latest catch phrases have caught. Everyone says things like “organic, sustainable, and local”. If you’re hearing “local”, ask them specifically what farms they work with. You want to know if their meats are “prime”, natural meats, or if they’re “select” and pumped with growth hormone. You want to know if their fish is fresh and wild, or frozen and farmed. You want a caterer that is as passionate about their salt (maldon please) as they are about their steak—so get them talking. No one is going to tell you “our proteins are pumped with hormones and our fish is right out of the freezer!” So just ask a nebulous, “tell me about your products.” If nothing is offered in terms of their product, odds are it’s not a “selling point” for them, which will tell you a lot about the quality of product.
ASK HOW THE CATERER APPROACHES PREPARATION
In terms of preparation there is a wide spectrum. On one extreme there will be caterers that make literally everything “in house” down to the pickles on your slider. On the other extreme, (sadly) there will be caterers that order pre-made hors d’oeuvres from catering wholesalers and re-heat on site. Get them talking to you about their chef. Find out about the chef’s background. As goes the chef, so goes the kitchen, so you want to know as much as possible about the chef. His T.V. credits matters much less than his training and experience in cooking—so be wary if the first thing you hear was: “our chef was just on the show_____”.
ASK WHICH WINES WILL BE SERVED
If you’re ordering wines with the caterer, ask which wines will be served and how they decide on selections. Wine and food go together, period. A great meal becomes a complete meal when paired with good wine. Often times wine pairing isn’t even considered when wines are selected. Remember, flavors either really work together, or really don’t . Don’t do the “how much wine can I get for five hundred bucks?” Ask them to suggest what varietals will work well the menu you’ve selected. If you’ve got a brunch format featuring eggs Florentine, and they’re proposing Cabernet, you might want to move on.