There’s no way of knowing exactly how many people will or won’t show up to your event, but it’s important to have a vague number before you start thinking about your party catering. It’s always better to over cater than under cater, but you also don’t want to be eating leftovers for weeks on end.
Being waited on always creates a sense of occasion, but it also adds the cost of waiting staff. A buffet can be an excellent option for party food catering, allowing guests to pick and choose what they’d like. A cold buffet is a lot easier than hot, particularly if you’re hoping to prepare a lot of your food in advance.
Be realistic about how much space you have for preparation and storage before you start looking at your menu. If you have a full-scale professional kitchen at your disposal within the venue, you can probably do a lot more work at once than if you are relying on a small home kitchen. Think about counter space for preparation as well as fridge space for storage. Try chilling drinks well in advance and then transferring them to ice-filled coolers to give you more space in the fridge on the day
Make life easier by having big enough equipment for cooking, and sufficient serving dishes, plates and glassware. Borrow a few extras from friends if needed. This saves time, space and washing up. Just accept that your dishwasher – human or electronic – is going to have a busy night! There is also the option of hiring plates and glasses, and some companies will offer a ‘return dirty’ policy that allows you to skip all of the washing up… this can be priceless after a long night!
Your night might not run entirely to plan, but it’s good to have a rough idea of when you’ll be putting the food out and when you hope to be cleaning it away. If you’ll be cooking on the night, don’t forget to allow extra time for plating and cooling. Assuming you have the storage space, it’s almost always best to get as much done in advance as possible.
If you’re catering for large numbers, it’s a good time to brush up on your basic food safety. Ensure that all hot food is served at the correct temperature and even cold food should be disposed of if left out for over 90 minutes.
Caterers differ on how much is enough when it comes to providing for your guests. A good rule of thumb per person is:
However, as the numbers go up, it might be worth scaling these numbers back, as more people generally eat less food overall. If you’re worried about not having enough, bulk up with starches, potatoes and bread.
The more work you can do to get ahead before the event, the better. Whether this means preparing and freezing food, setting out cutlery and condiments or just getting some of the peeling and chopping out of the way, it can all reduce stress on the day of the event.