Whether you’re looking to feed a group of hungry staffers, a crowd of wedding guests, or a few friends celebrating a special occasion, catering can be the perfect option to take your mind off the stress and hassle of feeding larger numbers of guests. However, if you’re someone who likes everything to be planned out perfectly in advance, all that stress can easily come rushing back once you get into the nitty-gritty of choosing the menu items, thinking about styles of serving, and trying to deal with everyone’s dietary needs. That’s why choosing the right menu off the bat can save you a lot of time and worry. So what’s the best way to get started? If you’re trying to plan the perfect event with a Richmond VA catering service, here are a few things to consider while creating the menu.
What Kind of Event Is It?
Are you feeding a group of co-workers during a lunch meeting? Setting up a dinner for a few clients you want to impress? Planning a large-scale wedding? Throwing a casual, intimate party for a friend? Whatever the nature of your event, you’ll need to think about what kind of atmosphere you want to create with the type of food you choose, as well as the type of service you select with the meal. For instance, if you’re arranging a work event for a lot of different co-workers, many of whom you might not know intimately, you’ll want to choose food and drinks that will appeal to the widest variety of people. The reason many corporate lunches include more casual items like sandwiches and pizza is that these meals feed a large number of people and can be easily customized to suit the needs of different diets. They can also be eaten without cutlery and can be easily served buffet-style, cutting the extra time and cost out of a more formal meal out of the equation.
How Many Guests Will Attend?
You’ll have a lot more control over a menu that’s meant to serve 10-20 people than a menu that’s going to feed 100. However, even if you’re tasked with feeding a large crowd, you can still choose items that will please everyone and be able to use your own taste as a guideline. For smaller events, you can get as specific as you like with hors-d’oeuvres and cocktails, adding lots of detail and flourish to impress a smaller crowd. For a large event, you’ll want to present a visually tasteful spread that hits all the core food groups, especially if the meal is going to be served family-style or buffet-style. Before deciding on your menu, get a firm RSVP number to work with, even if your event won’t be serving plated dishes. You’ll still need to work with a good ballpark number in order to have enough food on hand.
What are Your Time Constraints?
If you’re trying to plan an event around a specific task or meeting, time will be of the essence. For lunch meetings or seminars, having a buffet-style spread with lots of green salads, classic finger foods, and easily-customizable side dishes will help you to keep things moving and keep guests focused on the main event. If you’re planning a more leisurely event, the food should be more of a focal point. Even if you’re throwing a more intimate soiree, you’ll want your guests to take their time with the meal and focus on the effort that went into creating it. For less constrained sit-down dinners, choose foods that will look beautiful and create an atmosphere of intimate detail and care. You want your menu to feel perfectly curated for the occasion, and creating a visually beautiful plate for each guest is part of that.
What are the Dietary Restrictions of Your Guests?
Knowing what your guests eat is, of course, one of the most important pieces of information you’ll need before choosing the right menu for your event. If you can get a sense of how many vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free guests will be attending your event, you can work with the majority to create a simple array of dishes that everyone can enjoy. The best rule is to stick to something that everyone can eat, like salad, while offering a lot of variations for a customizable plate. Create a meal that guests can improvise with, rather than offering one or two plated options at the table. If you’re serving guests buffet-style, this will be an even simpler way to make sure everyone gets what they need.