How to hire a caterer?

Joined Aug 29, 2000
Your sage advice is needed! My temple has a Passover seder for about 85 people (about 15 are children under 10). Our former caterer retired and the job of finding a new one has fallen to me. I know what we customarily served, but would like to for prospective caterers to offer some fresh ideas, too. The food would have to prepared mostly off-site and brought in. My questions are:

1. How should I ask about pricing? ( I assume it's per plate)
2. What information should I provide about facilities and equipment on site?
3. What can I expect about clean-up? (My thought was to ask them to include only any mess in the kitchen from service, not swabbing the floors!)
4. What is customary in regard to payment? (How much up front, etc.)
5. I would provide information about appropriate/inappropriate ingredients.
6. Anything else I ought to ask?

Thanks so much for your insights and advice, everyone.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
KOSHER????? VAD?????

Give them clean and expect it clean

1/2 up front but ask what their billing practices are.

per person

ask for sample menus and prices, references are good too

Tell them what equipment adn serving pieces you have or have them do a walk through.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
Wow. Really good advice. Just for the record, Kosher food is not required (we're Reform- the only restrictions are no pork and no shellfish). We have done this as a very informal meal, using paper and plastic utensils, so no rentals of that nature are needed. I am of the school that believes in a three bid minimum for an organizational expense (accountability is very important to me), so I will be contacting at least three caterers. The event is on Sunday, April 8 (the evening of the second seder), and I don't know if that will work to our advantage or not. I believe it's better than a Saturday night, but don't know what other factors are to be considered. We're open to suggestions for non-traditional menu choices. For example, I found out that quinoa is botanically a fruit, so we can use it for a pilaf or something (grains are not permitted except for matzo and its products). There are actually Passover-appropriate pastas nowadays, too. We will also need a vegetarian option, which shouldn't be too hard to come up with.

You gave me a lot to think about and plenty of good guidance! Thanks---
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