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What to Expect at Your Caterer’s Tasting

What is a client’s favorite part of planning their event? Tastings of course! As part of the event or wedding planning process, clients often want to test the food they are having for their event to be sure it is spot on for what they are looking for.  Though this usually doesn’t require too much convincing of our clients, below we have shared some things you can expect from a caterer, and more specifically from Vibrant Table, when shopping (and tasting) around for catering companies.

Food

The tasting is your opportunity to give your caterer honest feedback on specific dishes (too salty, not enough sauce, etc.) so the caterer can adjust the dish to your specifications.  It is also your opportunity to decide not to serve something if you do not care for how the dish tastes, so you want to be honest with your taste buds and your caterer to let them know your likes and dislikes of the food you are served. Be aware that most companies will want you to have narrowed down your food selections to only a few items before the tasting so that they aren’t preparing unwanted food.

Keep in mind that some caterers do not hold tastings, as they are expensive and labor intensive.  These companies recommend you speak with past clients as testimony to the quality of their cuisine and services.

VT POLICY: You may select up to 4 appetizers, 2 salads, 2 entrees and 1 vegetarian option, and 2 dessert options from our menus to sample. Most of the choices on our menus can be prepared for a tasting, but ideally the items you taste are the ones you intend to serve at your event.  You will receive full size portions of each of the items you will taste, so come hungry!  Anything you can’t finish will be packed up for you to take home.

Scheduling

Some companies provide group tastings of seasonal menus so that you may experience the company’s style and flavor. Other companies offer samples of their menu “du jour,” during a scheduled appointment. Some have you attend an event they are catering to try their food (*Note: VT does not invite prospective clients to private events), while others refuse to do tastings completely! Some caterers charge for tastings and other don’t.

Unlike restaurants, catering kitchen staff is not always available to prepare samples on the spot, so you may need to have some flexibility in your schedule to match up with your caterer’s tasting schedule

VT POLICY: Tastings take place at the Loft on Belmont on Wednesdays, between the hours of 11am and 5pm.

Contracts

A common question we get is, “Do we have to sign a contract BEFORE the tasting?” Of course every company will answer this differently, but typically the caterer will allow you to test out your food choices before committing to them.  Some companies offer complimentary tastings that end up being costly to the company when the client is just shopping around, so they may ask you to sign a contract before handing out samples to guarantee your business.

VT POLICY: It is not required to sign the contract before the tasting; however we do require payment up front for the cost of the food and services during the tasting, which can and will be applied to the overall event total if you choose to continue with our services.

PRICING

As mentioned above, if you have signed a contract already with the company, a tasting is often complimentary, but if there are special requests, there may be extra charges associated.  This cost is often added to the overall cost of the event, which can be paid off at a later date.   If your company did not require you to sign a contract beforehand, be prepared to pay up front for the tasting.

VT POLICY: Vibrant Table Catering & Events offers a complimentary tasting, for up to 4 guests, for events valued at or in excess of $8,000. For events totaling less than $8,000, the cost for a tasting is $25 – $50 per person. Additional tastings are subject to charge.

Decor

If the catering company also provides décor services, they will often include this as part of the tasting to give you a little sneak peek into what your table settings will look like.  Of course, this can also come down to your budget; how much you want to spend will show in the amount of décor the caterer provides for the tasting.

VT POLICY: For tastings, Vibrant Table tries to recreate the ambiance of the event by setting the table and bringing in as much of the planned décor as possible.

Think of your tasting as a trial run of what the event will feel like.  Your caterer, especially if they are helping with event planning, will want to discuss the specifics of your entire event during the tasting, including the timeline of events. You don’t need to know everything at this time, but this information will help them to put together a list of outstanding items to discuss and decide upon in the future. We know no one will turn down the chance to eat delicious food, so a tasting is the perfect way to mix business with taste bud pleasure. Enjoy!

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