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Isn't it normal for a caterer to provide a sample?

chowesq Apr 26, 2007 09:47 PM

So I am trying to hire a caterer for a party. I was discussing with a caterer and he had a good plan but when I asked to sample the food he said that he didn't do that because his reputation speaks for itself!!! Now he ain't Wolfgang Puck, I can't find any info on the guy to prove that his rep is so amazing...what would you do???

  1. Scrapironchef May 8, 2007 11:45 AM

    No references, no samples and an attitude? Walk away.

    If you simply must have this caterer, ask him what his next party the same size as yours is and demand to go to the venue and be able to see the service/food. This can be done unobtrusively and ill give you as good an idea as you can get about wht he provides.

    1. Pei May 7, 2007 06:08 PM

      Move along. I had this same problem recently trying to find a wedding caterer in LA. I'll try to be brief:

      -a lot of caterers have so many celebrity clients they just don't care. They don't offer samples, only a tasting after you've already paid a non-refundable deposit.
      -some caterers also run a cafe, so at least you can try them out and see if you like the style. This is better.
      -some caterers will allow you to pay $50/pp for a private tasting, this goes toward your final balance if you go with them.
      -some have events where many people go try the food, for a fee, also to go toward your final balance if you choose them.

      I was on this board asking for suggestions.

      People suggested asking to go on a day when they're planning an event to try one sample (pay for it). Nope, they can't do that because they have to focus on the event. Fair enough.

      People said to "challenge" the caterer to make you one dish (you pay for it) that would ensure you would not want to go with anyone else. Ha. I think they were barely able to refrain from laughing in my face. Challenge the caterer. Psh. Who do I think I am, a movie star? They just point to their regular celebrity clientele marked down on their calendars to imply they don't have time to bother with you.

      The one place I finally did buckle down and shell over $100 (for me and my sister) to try was terrible. I haven't called them since that day.

      1. ChefJune May 6, 2007 02:17 AM

        If they don't wnat to provide you with a private sampling, they should make it possible for you to attend a function they are catering so you can taste there.

        That "reputation speaks..." stuff is apcray!

        1. i
          isa1 Apr 29, 2007 07:57 PM

          I wouldn't deal with him. I have a catering business myself and when providing a client with a quote, I always bring samples...

          1. w
            wayne keyser Apr 29, 2007 07:55 PM

            I'd go elsewhere.

            1. Davwud Apr 28, 2007 08:19 PM

              I'd keep looking.
              If you feel you should sample the food first then find someone willing to do so.

              You don't want to fret the whole time about the food do you??


              1. ccbweb Apr 26, 2007 10:58 PM

                I'd want references and to speak to those people. Given the caterer's response, I personally would be hesitant to use such a company. For very large jobs, I'd think that a sample might be in order. But I can also see that trying to do small amounts of something is a much different thing that doing a full job and is quite time consuming and costly for the caterer. Again, personally, I wouldn't necessarily need a sample if I were able to speak to several people the caterer had done work for.

                Its also worth keeping in mind that when it comes to food, you very often get what you pay for. Certainly there must be a place where quality and affordability will meet, but that can be very difficult to find.

                1. m
                  mojoeater Apr 26, 2007 09:54 PM

                  This seems to be a problem in the LA area. There was a post about it a couple months ago. I no longer live there, but as a former caterer I can say that I would never deny a sampling to a client. Tell the caterer that you are willing to pay for the tasting, but you want to try it before you commit to that particular menu. If he is unwilling, I'd find another caterer.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mojoeater
                    lunchbox May 6, 2007 12:49 AM

                    I'm in with Mojo-
                    As a caterer, the ONLY time I wouldn't make samples (Heck, even a whole tasting with options) available would be in a situation where the tasting was months before the intended season and certain ingredients might not yet be in season (eg. morels, ramps, white truffles, etc.)
                    I wouldn't expect samples of crudite or cheese platters, but tastings seem to be an extremely important part of planning an event, unless you have A LOT of personal experience eating the food from other occaisions/events.

                  2. russkar Apr 26, 2007 09:51 PM

                    I never use a Caterer that hasn't Caterered a Party I attended. Problem Solved!
                    If $$$ is no object Bon Bouffe in Venice (lots of major Celeb customers).

                    Large Groups reasonable price then West Coast Events in Long Beach.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: russkar
                      chowesq Apr 26, 2007 09:55 PM

                      $$$ is definitely the ISSUE here! I'm trying to find something inexpensive and I fear that I may be harming quality.
                      I would LOVE to have my choice of caterers!!!

                      1. re: russkar
                        chowesq Apr 26, 2007 10:00 PM

                        Do you happen to have any contact info for West Coast?

                        1. re: chowesq
                          russkar Apr 26, 2007 10:28 PM

                          Kora at WEST COAST EVENTS - 949 295 0506

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