What to Consider When Planning Catering for Your Corporate Event

If you’ve ever planned a corporate event before – whether a luncheon with colleagues or an upscale cocktail hour with clients – you know that there are many important things to consider. For starters, there’s the space, the guest list, the decor and of course, the catering. 

Food is central to any event, so catering can easily make-or-break the success of your  event. Make sure to start the planning process as soon as you’ve set your event date. This ensures that you have enough time to secure your preferred catering company. Keeping your guests well fed and happy should be your biggest priority as a host, and serving great food will help make your workplace event a memorable one! When planning the catering for your event, you’ll need to think about the type of occasion, the guest list, the budget and any dietary restrictions. With proper planning, you can ensure the catering at your corporate event is a hit!

At Epicuria, we’ve been offering corporate catering in Ottawa for events big and small for over 30 years. We know a thing or two about planning a successful meal for your colleagues and clients!

Determine What Type of Event You’re Hosting

The first step in planning your catering is to determine what type of event you’re hosting. What is the occasion — are you hosting a client cocktail reception? Or maybe you’re throwing a company-wide luncheon. The type and style of your event will affect the menu, so solidifying these details first is key. The time of day and occasion will determine whether you host a seated meal, or whether items like platters or hors d’oeuvres make more sense. 

You’ll also want to take the venue into account. Where are you hosting your event? Are there tables set, or is it standing room only? Is it outdoors? Are there power outlets/ refrigerators? Each of these factors will affect how the food is served and what type of dish is appropriate for the occasion and location.

Corporate Luncheon

Corporate luncheons are a great team-building occasion and can be an opportunity for you to show your appreciation for your team. Typical lunch-friendly menu items are salads and sandwiches, because they are easy to eat in the office and don’t require any reheating. When planning your catering menu, ask your caterer what they recommend! They will be able to propose the best dishes for your luncheon based on your specific needs. Consider choosing nutritious dishes for a midday fuel up to keep everyone feeling satisfied and motivate your teams.

Corporate Cocktail Reception

No cocktail reception is complete without a beautiful selection of hors d’oeuvres. When hosting a cocktail event, keep in mind that your guests will be standing and mingling. Opt for finger foods and small bites to make it easy for them to indulge. Your menu should include a variety of options both hot and cold to keep your guests intrigued and impressed. Make sure to consider whether you’ll be presenting the food as a tabletop spread or if you’ll be having staff pass it around on platters. A combination of both works well and will satisfy even your hungriest guests!

Corporate Meetings & Conferences

When hosting an important conference or meeting, having great food on hand will keep everyone feeling energized and engaged! When planning catering for these types of events, you’ll want to keep the meal location in mind. If you’ll be serving food in a boardroom setting, make sure your selected dishes are easy to eat and don’t require any reheating. Items like sandwiches or bento boxes are convenient to eat and easy to save for later for a post-meeting fuel up. 

Company Holiday Parties

Show your team your appreciation with a festive holiday party! You may want to invest in a more formal plated meal for everyone to sit and enjoy together. These types of occasions generally involve some type of bar setup to get the festivities going. Holiday parties are often the best time to get creative with your catering and opt for a more elaborate spread to treat your team. 

Guest List & Number of Attendees

When selecting catering for your event, you’ll have to first finalize the guest list, or at least have a clear picture of the number of attendees. The amount of people you need to feed will not only affect the quantity of dishes in your order, but the selection of items. Is your event for employees only, or will you also be inviting important clients? This may affect the formality of the event, as well as your meal selections. When planning your corporate catering, you’ll need to know how many people will be attending to ensure nobody goes hungry. Having the right amount of food is key to keeping your guests happy and well-fed!

Consider Your Budget

Your budget is another key factor when planning the catering for your corporate event. You may be working within tight budget constraints, or you may have a reasonably-sized allocation to devote to catering. Knowing ahead of time what you can expense will help you choose the most appropriate catering choices for your event. It’s also an essential piece when it comes to communicating openly with your catering company so that they can find the right solution for you. For example, if you’re working with a tight budget, hosting a seated meal with a plate for each guest may not be the best option. Instead, opt for crowd-pleasing platters or a selection of small bites. It’s always a good idea to consult with your caterer to select the best menu based on your budget.

Make Note of Any Dietary Restrictions

When catering an event, it’s important to make sure each guest has something available for them to eat. Asking your guests about any dietary restrictions ahead of time allows you to offer dietary restriction-friendly meal options for them. Consider asking about dietary restrictions as part of the RSVP process. This will give you ample time to select alternative meal options for your guests who can’t enjoy the main food selections. Your guests will appreciate your consideration and will enjoy being able to eat at your event. 

Accommodating dietary restrictions is another area where the experience of your caterer comes into play. Most caterers have menu items that can accommodate a wide range of common dietary considerations. When tracking dietary restrictions, it’s a good idea to prepare a document that you can share with your caterer to help them prepare accordingly. It’s important to ask them which allergies they can prepare dishes for, because certain allergies such as garlic, onion and citrus may not be able to be accommodated. This is where planning ahead of time is key!

Don’t Forget the Beverages

The beverages you offer at your event will depend on your event type and the time of day. Evening events such as a cocktail reception, or a company Christmas party, for example, will include a more elevated bar setup with alcohol, which means permits and licenses may be needed. A daytime luncheon event or outdoor company gathering may be more simple and can include a coffee or an assortment of beverages, or even a simple grab-and-go station of bottled beverages. Beverages add the final touch to your meal so it’s important to include them when planning your catering. For a fun themed event, consider adding a signature cocktail or alcohol-free punch station! Don’t be afraid to get creative with it. Your guests will thank you.

Sourcing a Caterer

How do you decide which is the best catering company in Ottawa for your event? When researching a caterer, make sure to ask important questions such as how long they have been in business, their experience with corporate events, licensing and insurance, and their ability to accommodate your event requirements.You can also look at their website and social media to view examples of their presentation and aesthetics to see if they are able to deliver high-quality service. 

Coordinating with the Caterer

Once you’ve chosen a catering company, they’ll begin the planning process for your event. At Epicuria, before we can provide you with a quote for corporate catering, we’ll need you to share details about your event, including each of the items listed above — the type of event, the occasion, the venue, your guest list, and any dietary restrictions we should know about. This allows us to get a better idea of what is required for your event so that we can provide menu and quantity recommendations.

Working with an experienced caterer can help you make your event a hit! Enlisting the help of a professional corporate catering company will ensure that the food you serve at your event is top-quality and memorable for your guests. 

Elevate Your Next Ottawa Corporate Event with Professional Catering

Take your corporate events to the next level with gourmet catering in Ottawa. Epicuria has over 30 years of experience in catering events and our corporate catering menu is carefully curated to highlight crowd-pleasing dishes your guests are sure to love! Contact us today to get a quote for our corporate catering services in Ottawa and the surrounding areas. 

Epicuria is an Ottawa-based food shop and catering company. We elevate corporate and social events and create cravings you can indulge daily – from take-home food to prepared meals you’ll love.
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