Questions to ask catering services represented by Elysian Events Catering co-founders standing by an oyster bar at an event.

10 Questions to Ask Catering Services Before You Hire Them


Choosing the food for your wedding or event is one of the most important decisions in your planning process, so you’re likely to have many questions to ask catering services first. The right caterer does more than just prepare and serve food; they contribute to the atmosphere, flow, and overall guest experience. Whether you’re planning a wedding, a corporate event, or a private party, asking the right questions is key to ensuring your caterer can meet your vision, budget, and culinary expectations. This blog post will guide you through the essential questions to ask your caterer, ensuring your event’s catering is memorable, delicious, and perfectly suited to your needs.

Why It’s Important to Ask Questions

When planning your party or wedding, you may find yourself overwhelmed by all of the potential vendors and their offerings. It’s important to ask questions to make sure that you get the right fit for your event. The food is often one of the most memorable parts of a wedding or event, so getting this detail right is critical. It can also affect your enjoyment of the occasion and whether you feel that your money was well spent. 

10 Questions to Ask Catering Services

To get the best catering service for you, make sure you ask your caterer at least these 10 questions.

  1. What types of cuisine do you consider your specialty? What are your top areas of expertise?

If you are looking for a particular type of food, it makes sense to look for caterers who specialize in it. For example, if you are looking for Cajun or Creole cuisine, find a caterer who serves New Orleans dishes like gumbo, étouffée and jambalaya. This generally works better than asking a caterer who does not have experience in this type of cuisine to try something new for your event. When a caterer has experience cooking a particular genre of cuisine, their skills can truly shine and you can count on the consistency of their results, giving you one less thing to worry about on your big day.

On the other hand, if you have no idea what kind of food you want to serve, comparing caterers that serve different types of cuisine may help you make up your mind. Also, caterers will be able to advise your from their expertise about topics such as which dishes tend to be crowd pleasers and what to serve for people with different dietary preferences or restrictions. 

  1. Do you have any previous clients who could provide references?

This is one of the most important questions to ask catering services because it helps you get a feel for their experience and reliability based on past customer feedback. Menu descriptions and photos are important because they help you to imagine what the food and experience would be like at your event, but hearing about the experience of real clients can give you an important outside perspective on a caterer’s work. You may be able to find this information via a Google Search, but if not, don’t be shy about just asking the caterer.

3. Do you offer the opportunity to taste some of the dishes before making our decision?

The detailed menu item descriptions you may find on your caterer’s website are fantastic for helping you determine your initial preferences for your menu and firing your imagination as you seek to plan what you will serve on the occasion. However, to truly determine whether you will enjoy this caterer’s food, there really is no substitute for a tasting. After all, different people can have wildly different food opinions, so it can be hard to know what you will like until you try it. Of course, it will probably not be possible for you to taste every available option before making your selection. Nonetheless, if you are trying to make a decision between two dishes or if you want to get a sense of the caterer’s overall technique and the quality of the food, definitely make sure you can schedule a tasting.

4. What if my guests have special diets or food allergies and sensitivities?

Caterers should take preferences and medical needs seriously, and have plans in place to handle both. From offering vegetarian options to avoiding cross-contamination, the caterer you choose should be able to make accommodations so that everyone can enjoy your celebration together.

5.  How does your pricing work? Are there any additional fees that might not be anticipated in your quote?

Cost is a very important question to understand when deciding between catering services. The least expensive option is not necessarily the best. To make an informed decision, you need to understand what is included, what is extra, and what might turn out to be needed, in terms of unexpected costs.

6. What services do you provide, such as setup, breakdown, or waitstaff?

Caterers often do more than just prepare food, but you need to ask to find out. Make sure to get this information right away so you know what other vendors you may need to hire.

7. Do you use local and seasonal ingredients in your food?

This question is particularly relevant if you’re interested in making your wedding or event more eco-friendly. Local sourcing of ingredients can help you to know that the ingredients are fresher and that their transportation did not contribute significant greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. Thinking of the Earth can bring additional meaning to your celebration while you also enjoy delicious food, so it’s a win-win.

8. Do you offer bar catering? What does that include?

Not every caterer has a liquor license, and in some areas it may actually be a rare caterer that does. As you’re choosing a caterer, you will want to know whether they can provide bar catering for your event. If the caterer provides bar catering, find out if this is beer and wine only, whether standard or custom cocktails are available, and so on.

It is also important to note that not every venue will allow outside bar catering, so make sure to check for that in your venue search.

9. Can you recommend a venue for our wedding, party, or corporate event? 

An experienced caterer will have a lot to say on the subject of venues for your event. They will have worked at many locations around the area and will be able to advise you on a setting that will suit your event type and style well. Additionally, they will be aware of which venues allow outside catering, which is critical if you already have your heart set on a particular caterer or style of cuisine.

10.  Can you recommend any vendors that you have particularly enjoyed working with in the past?

Working in the hospitality business is all about developing relationships and networking. An experienced caterer will have lots of industry contacts from previous events they have catered. You can learn more about your caterer through the vendors they recommend, and asking this can also save you trouble when it comes to finding other great vendors to hire for your event. This works in reverse, too; you can definitely ask your other vendors for caterer recommendations.

Asking these ten questions can help you learn about your potential caterer’s specialties, their professionalism, and whether they would be a good choice for your event. However, they are by no means all of the questions you can ask. If you want something very specific for your event, or if you have a particular worry on your mind, don’t be shy! A good caterer will want to make sure they are the right fit for you and can provide what you want, so feel free to ask any questions you have.

Choose Elysian Events Catering for The Best Food in New Orleans

If you’re planning an event in the New Orleans area, Elysian Events Catering is the best choice for a catering service. We serve authentic New Orleans favorites, made with fresh local ingredients, for weddings, corporate events, parties, and more! Got your questions to ask catering services ready to send our way? Contact us today!

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