Pampering your employees: how to successfully choose a caterer for a company event?

Catering (photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK)
(photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK)
When you are tasked with organizing a company event, it seems that the to-do list is almost endless. That being said, you mustn’t forget that many of us measure every-thing according to the food. That’s why a sensible choice of a caterer is probably one of the most meaningful aspects of the event. Here is the complete guide for choosing the correct caterer for a successful company event.
First of all: Match the type of catering with the nature of your company
We contacted Mary Lobaton, the marketing director of the Something Special Catering company that specializes in catering services for company events, to help us with writing this guide.
“When everything is said and done, the nature of the company is the byproduct of its employees, customers and current or potential investors,” Mary explains, “and that is why you need to match the catering style with the target audience.”
Thus, for instance, at an event for a company that brands itself as a sophisticated and high-class company, the most obvious thing would be to serve gourmet, such as liver terrine with onion confit and red wine, salmon ceviche or slices of high quality meat in exotic mushroom and truffle oil.
On the other hand, an event for a more folksy company that promotes itself as having a down to Earth clientele would go well with simple and tasty home cooking, with food like small kebabs, hummus on bread and stuffed and stir-fried eggplant spread with tahini sauce.
Make sure the menu matches the time of day and year
When does your event take place?
A noontime event, which coincides with the most important meal of the day, when everyone is hungry, is definitely appropriate for a rich and filling meal, a heavy meal – even more so.
On the other hand, an event that doesn’t coincide with one of the major meals and takes place during the morning or the early evening-would be more suitable for a lighter menu.
“As well as the time,” Mary mentions “it’s important to take the time of year in which the event takes place  into account. During winter, it makes more sense that the guests would enjoy hot and rich foods, such as soup and stews, whereas in the hot summer, it’s better to have many toppings and salads, seasonal fruits and cold deserts.”
Check if there is flexibility when it comes to putting together a menu and don’t forget the bar
According to Mary: in order to make sure that the event matches the nature of the company, the guests and the food served in the best possible way, it’s best to choose a caterer that shows flexibility when putting together a menu according to your choice.
Before you choose one catering company over another, find out what sort of dishes they offer, how varied the selection is and if you can choose, both in terms of pricing and the selection of foods themselves.
It’s also worth mentioning that not all catering services provide a bar for drinks, which could put a whole in your pocket if you have to go to another company for this purpose.
In company events soft drinks are often good enough, so long as they are served in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and respectful, but even this should not be taken for granted- and it’s best to make sure this service is included in the price.
The location influences the choice of foods as well
Is your event in an air-conditioned venue-or in outdoors area such as a garden?
“An event that is in an indoor air-conditioned area gives you more freedom in choosing foods.” Mary says, “On the other hand, when it’s an outdoor space-it’s more important to make sure that you make the right choice between hot foods and summery foods.”
It’s worth noting that at most company events, in indoor and outdoor venues, it’s to serve food that is easy to walk around with, in order to enable mingling and free movement of participants within the area.
That’s why it’s best to avoid foods that involve too much bother, like fish, chicken or seafood, which require the eater to figure out what to do with bones or peals, and choose food that is easy to carry around.
Find out how the food is served
There are three main ways that food is commonly served in the world of catering:
1.    Waiters: with this method guests are seated at tables and the waiters come to them to take their orders and bring them the food they requested.
2.    A buffet: this option means that all the foods are set up on large tables and the guests go over and take the food that they prefer themselves.
3.    Stands: similar to a buffet, but instead of having large tables that are concentrated in one central area, the different stands are split up, one for each food or two, and scattered in different areas in the venue.
When planning a company event, it’s best to use stands, because they make the area more spacious and allow for a more pleasant and comfortable placement of guests among the food stands.
That way you can support an atmosphere that invites the crowd to mingle, make business connections and develop camaraderie with other employees while serving the food, as well as preventing the creation of overload or crowded lines.
Look for recommendations and positive reviews
A good caterer is a byproduct of professionalism, experience, variety, flexibility in putting together a menu and of course, wonderful food.
On caterers’ websites you can read about various menus and foods, as well as being ex-posed to customer reviews and recommendations if there are any.
“Want a more direct recommendation?” Mary emphasizes, “Don’t be afraid to ask the catering company for phone numbers of customers that could recommend the company to you.”
Amen: Don’t skip the Kosher food
Even if you are completely nonreligious and have absolutely nothing to do with keeping Kosher - it’s important to consider all those who participate in the event.
Choosing a menu that isn’t Kosher could cause an embarrassing situation for employees or guests who keep Kosher, which is why you should play it safe in this area.
Nowadays, Kosher food is nearly endless: and you can definitely enjoy a very high culinary level in spite of the limitations of keeping Kosher.
Define a budget and make sure to stick with it
Even a successful company event must be a clearly defined budgetary framework, while you make sure that that the actual price matches what you allocated for this purpose ahead of time.
Company events are usually based on serving food on stands. Therefore, unlike private events, which are based on the price of each dish multiplied by the number of expected guests which case the price is calculated according to the price of each stand.
The basic price is shown on most catering websites as according the standard of a hun-dred guests.most food stands are included in the price range which runs between 2000-4000 NIS per stand, while in the case of high quality barbecued meat or especially com-plicated dishes-the price could go as high as about 7000 NIS.
Furthermore, you must take the various desert stands into account, which cost almost as much as the cheapest normal stands (2000-3000 NIS).
In the end-choosing a catering company sensibly is an important component in the success of your event.
Now it’s clear to you which criteria are worth checking, so that you can choose a caterer that is varied and of high quality, which is appropriate for your event and company and to  move on to taking care of all the other important aspects of getting the event together stress free.
Good luck!