The Caterers Corner
tasting policy Caterers Corner: tasting policy
By Claudia (Claudia) on Thursday, July 25, 2002 - 09:33 am: Edit

What is a reasonable policy for a tasting? I just did a special tasting for a couple for their wedding where they wanted to taste everything - hors d'oeuvres, main course, side dishes, wedding cake...I gave them partially what they asked for, at no cost to them, had to overnight materials to them at my cost, and then I did not get the job. What are some of your policies on this? I am a very small, sometimes one woman operation and most of my clients taste AFTER they have booked my services. What do I do?

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Thursday, July 25, 2002 - 10:18 am: Edit

In my business, catering and cakes, I do not charge for cake tasting, but I charge for extensive food tasting. If they want to taste something I am working on for another party, I charge a minimal fee; for special preparation I charge for the food cost & my time only. It really cuts out the looky-loos.

As far as overnighting things, I charge them with credit back on their final bill if they go with me. I had a friend who really got into trouble doing that, I guess the word got out. She lost a lot of money over time. I try to keep their interest while not paying out of my own pocket for their desires.

Hope this helps.

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Friday, July 26, 2002 - 02:51 am: Edit

Charge them 100.00 and credit it back to them if they book!

If someone asks for a tasting, I tell them we have 2 per year at no cost to them to help them select their menu... Usually, I ask why they want to taste.. if they say they want to compare caterers, I tell them to call a couple of my clients..If it is to help decide their menu, then I invite to a tasting...

another angle is to invite them to a wedding, 30 minutes before it and I fix them a sample plate...

By Claudia (Claudia) on Friday, July 26, 2002 - 08:20 am: Edit

Thanks. I need to come up with a set policy for this. Lately I have been spending hours with couples who are shoppping around and I am not used to it. Any other advice you can offer on handling this would be helpful. It is hard to guess what is in their minds and why they are shopping around so much. Most of my weddings and parties are at private homes and I don't think I can invite a potential client.

I think I have to charge for a tasting. This couple went to a restaurant to try them out, and I sure they paid for that meal!

By Mbw (Mbw) on Friday, July 26, 2002 - 05:21 pm: Edit

Tastings! BAD PLAN! (and yes my food rocks FYI)

$100 refundable? GREAT IDEA! I'll do it. It does kinda put pressure on them, and I hate to put MORE pressure on a couple that is already stressed, BUT. I guess it is a good policy that can be waived at our discretion.

I did a tasting once for a wedding cake AND catering. The client ended up going to Safeway for the cake and they just placed fresh flowers around it (they got the flower idea from our tasting.) We got the catering, but the brides mother took one bite of the cake and tossed it in the trash. We did not make the cake but it still made us look bad.

Wedding Couples are TOLD to ask for tastings (Just read Modern Bride), but they have NO CLUE as to the work involved. They will also take your ideas and try to get then done cheaper.. Quality suffers and so do we.. in general weddings suck! They are about loss, and if the parents are paying ANY $$$ they may take all their anger of loosing their child out on YOU!!! Last chance to be a controll freak! Memorials/Funerals are much nicer events to do. People are into honoring, peace and love.. Oh yeah it is also hard to piss off the guest of honor cause they are dead..

Seriously now folks.

Testing my new motto
"Over 1,000,000 served, and no one killed by our food yet!"


By Mbw (Mbw) on Friday, July 26, 2002 - 05:36 pm: Edit

Beware the corporate tasting!

I was called by a major law firm to bid on their company X-mas party several years ago. The man I spoke to wanted a tasting, and was quite enthusiastic about meeting me. I decided to stop by his office and meet him before bringing over samples of my hors d'Oeurves. When I arrived I saw a young man with a huge smile on his face surrounded by boxes, trays and various samples. He wanted to know what I brought him. I asked him a few details about his event, and quickly dicovered he had been asked by his boss(who would make the ultimate decision) to gather information. More investigation revealed that his boss was out of town and had been leaning toward "Taste" catering.

BOOM! This punk was getting free food and working us poor caterers to death for nothing. He had NO power AND knew his boss was going with someone else, but instead of getting bids he just sat back and ate sample for a week.

As a small caterer you need to be careful of type that will take advatage of you because they consider you disposable. They know you are hungry for business and will take advantage of it.

Confidence in what you do, AND a few people they can call for references should be enough. In short think catergreat had the best "Professional" advice. As usual...


By Claudia (Claudia) on Friday, July 26, 2002 - 06:04 pm: Edit

Well, Live and learn. I have excellent references, and even gave them a copy of the glowing accolade from my last bride and groom.. It's funny, the wedding I am doing next didn't want to taste - they know the food will be fabulous. I am kicking myself a bit, but it is good to learn something. I like the idea of charging and then crediting them back.

Thank you all. This has been very helpful.

By Sam (Sam) on Friday, July 26, 2002 - 11:37 pm: Edit

with only a few exceptions, we do not do tastings, as Claudia smartly does, we give all potential couples a listing of our last 2 dozen or so weddings & encourage them to contact them all......but sometimes if I see that a couple is potentially spending say more than $100 per, and have "pre-qualified" them through our local informal "wedding" network, I will do a tasting if pushed,,,but we have been lucky in that, the 6 or so tastings we get "hooked" into each year, we always sell it is a coin toss!...sam

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Friday, August 02, 2002 - 09:01 am: Edit

I have a further thought... Peter McCaffrey of Wine Valley Catering in Napa California gives everyone a tasting at their initial consultation... he says he books 90%... remember, he is in a very unique area and is the best and most successful caterer...

you have to be very good to have that kind of success.

I just returned from an "Upscale Cooking Clinic" in Napa, CA presented by ..uh... *********** (is that ok george?)
I have rethought my position on tastings. Whenever a bride comes in for a consultation, My chef will bring a couple of hors d' with beverages to our table.... This will quickly impress the client... as far as "tastings" will be to do them at no charge once I have a deposit...

To MBW (mark) I would have been real pissed to see what you saw... What I would do is say, "I thought you called because you know we are the best caterer in west tennessee, if you want a tasting to help select the menu for your event, book the event with me today and we will schedule a tasting of what you are considering... otherwise, we may book your date to someone else while you are deciding, as we are in very high demand!"

In the case of the guy you encountered, he would have probably smarted off and hung up... and you would have not been suckered.

For entertainment purposes, mark, why not send him a bill for your food for say 10.00 to 20.00? I doubt he will pay it, but you will let him know you are "on to him"....

By Claudia (Claudia) on Saturday, August 03, 2002 - 09:16 am: Edit

Thank you all for your helpful advice. I will continue to do tastings on request AFTER the contract is signed. You have all helped me develop a reasonable policy - 1. offer references. 2. Taste after contract is signed to finalize the menu and adjust items to the taste of the client. 3. If they insist on a taste before, charge them up front and offer to credit back upon signing. 4. A little nibble is always nice. Keep those ideas coming, guys, it helps a small business woman out here in the catering trenches.

Add a Message

This is a private posting area. A valid username and password combination is required to post messages to this discussion.