Catering is vitally important for the health of most events. Good food brings people together, and caterers offer ready-made food for guests to enjoy. It’s not enough to just cater an event though, it needs to be catered exceptionally well. That means planning prep for the big event in detail. Consider the steps that must be completed and write them down. Assign jobs to specific team members. Plan everything out with time to spare, so completing the event with success is easy. One of the best ways to start your planning is by looking at a checklist for catering an event. Think of it as your basic inventory plan, and check off each item before leaving your kitchen on the big day.
The Table Settings
As a caterer it’s vital that you have all the necessary table settings. The checklist considers both decorative and functional elements. With the right tools and equipment the event will look stunning and guests will have all they need to eat. Here’s a breakdown of the most important table settings to have on your checklist for an event.
- Salad plates
- Dinner plates
- Bread plates
- Fabric or paper napkins
- Wine glasses
- Water glasses
- Sugar holders
- Salt and pepper shakers
Equipment for Serving
Unless the event is going to be buffet-style, a good set of serving equipment is essential. The right gear makes it easy distributing food and drinks to the guests of the event. Try to achieve a balance of classy looking and sturdy items for best results.
- Bus bins – the plastic tubs that hold dirty dishes and food after people have finished eating. Get several of these.
- Serving trays – Trays are necessary for serving all the food, unless the event is to be buffet style.
- Water pitchers- Try for durable pitchers that look nice as well. Have enough to keep at least half the servers stocked during the event, because refilling water is a major component of any event.
Equipment for a Buffet
If the event is to be buffet-style, you’ll have a different catering event checklist to consider. It will include all the items to set up, operate and remove a buffet quickly. Here’s a standard catering buffet checklist.
- Tongs – For salads or other difficult to scoop items.
- Chafing dishes – To keep food warm throughout the event
- Fuel – To power the chafing dishes
- Matches or lighter – To start the dish heaters
- Plates – Go with sturdy and uniform plates
- Serving baskets – To hold fruit, bread and other objects
- Rolled silverware – Packed into neat bundles for easy grabbing or passing out
- Cutting boards – Used for cutting meats
- Cutting knives – To slice up meat
- Cutting boards – To hold meats for slicing
- Dish cloths – To wipe up inevitable spills
This banquet setup checklist covers all of the most common items required during buffet-style events, but it’s a good idea to think of more specific needs and add them on as well. Try and build up the list entirely before the big day of the event so you’ll be prepared.
Beverage Bar Checklist
A coffee or beverage station is an efficient way to handle drinks for an event, but it must be stocked properly. Here’s a simple catering kitchen equipment list for a beverage bar.
- Glasses – For water and soft drinks
- Pitchers – Filled with water and ice
- Coffee cups
- Ice tubs – To hold canned soda, or other drinks in containers
- Baskets – To hold teas, hot cocoas, sugar and creamer packs
- Garbage can – To hold all the wrappers and other drink garbage
- Napkins – For spills or to wrap around hot drinks
By following this food and beverage checklist, your team will have everything needed to keep guests from being thirsty.
Preparing for Off-Site Catering
A good catering equipment checklist is even more important when completing an off-sites project. There are less supplies available, and failure to bring the right items could ruin an event. Look over this catering set up checklist closely before each major event just to be sure.
- Aluminum foil – To cover and protect food items during transportation.
- Hand sanitizer – For keeping hands clean throughout
- Garbage bags- To keep dirty napkins and rags in
- Insulated containers – Keep food hot or cold by keeping it insulated during transit.
- Water jugs – For when no water is available on site
- Disposable food containers – For storing all the food for the event
- Additional bus tubs – To hold all the dirty dishes to be washed late
No matter what type of event you’re catering, it’s important to have a checklist to rely on. Hopefully the banquet equipment inventory list, and the other checklists help make planning for the next event easier. It’s also a good idea to include a catering food checklist, but that’s something you’ll have to make up for each event. Focus on detail when planning and always give yourself more time than you’ll need to avoid rushed mistakes.