Taste Test: What to Expect from a Tasting with Your Caterer
photography by Matthew Land Studios
Sponsored by Lisa Dupar & Company
It’s time to dial in the food and beverage aspect of your big day. When “shopping” for a caterer, there are a few tips Lisa Dupar, chef, cookbook author, and owner of Lisa Dupar Catering, recommends to ensure you receive all the information you need to execute a successful (and tasty!) event. First and foremost, you need assurance the caterer you are about to choose is the right fit. Make note of the following and you'll be well on your way to a wedding feast you and your guests won't forget:
PRIOR to the tasting, ask your caterer:
Do they charge for the tasting? Some caterers will only charge if you don’t choose them, as they see the tasting as an investment for securing your event.
Do they have a “set” tasting menu? Some caterers will not charge for their standard tasting menu, but will add fees for custom requests.
Are you sampling the style food you plan to serve? For example, are you tasting appetizers, yet planning a sit-down dinner? Check to be sure you can sample the style of food you plan on serving.
What knowledge do you want to walk away with? Be clear on your reasons for the tasting. Some reasons to consider: Food quality; service style; signature cocktail decision; narrowing down menu choices; tasting a specific theme or cultural menu to decide if the caterer can stay true to your vision.
Can we choose linens, china, glassware etc. during the tasting?
Can we plan logistics with the event coordinator during the tasting? You may need to let the coordinator and caterer know, so enough time can be set aside for going over these details.
DURING the tasting:
Be flexible. If you need reassurance about food quality, it may not be necessary to taste the exact item you want on your menu. You may be thrilled with the flavor and presentation of an item you are sampling, now, during the winter, yet are planning for a summer wedding. Keep in mind a tomato dish in January may not be a reflection of how the dish will taste in July.
Don’t be shy. Speak up if you don’t care for an element in the dish. You may not like the mushroom garnish, but the caterer can simply change it to an artichoke garnish you'll love!
Get clarification on portions presented. Sometimes a “taste” is literally a bite and it may not be the size portion you will be served at your event. Ask if what you are seeing and tasting is the actual portion size and plate presentation.
When is a tasting not a tasting, but a catered event? Some couples choose to turn their tastings into parties for close family and friends to vote on or choose the menu for their big event. When large numbers of people are involved, or the tasting is located off-site away from the caterer’s kitchen, this is essentially an event in and of itself, and the caterer may charge full price.
From Lisa Dupar Catering:
We want to make sure that what you are sampling is exactly what you get the day of your event. Some things we do to ensure this happens:
We present exactly as you will see it the day of the event – size, portion, and recipe.
We photograph the food before you taste it to ensure the presentation is the same for your event.
We take notes and make all the changes in writing with you during the tasting.
We file all the images, notes, recipes, portion sizes, etc. in your event folder for our chefs and lead servers to review up-to and the day-of your event.
The week before the event, we review with the entire team all the specific unique details of your menu. Our goal is to offer you the complete experience, from the initial menu planning process, to the tasting, logistics, and all the little details in between.