Attended the local NACE (National Association of Catering Executives) meeting last night to connect with friends and learn more about tasting events. The meet-up was at the Embassy Suites Minneapolis Airport, and the room was packed—hot topic, it appears. Here are a few take-aways that event planners may find helpful.
Will I need to pay for the tasting? Every venue and caterer has a different policy. Most of the speakers (and the people I talked to) allow a certain number of people (two to four) pro bono, and charge for any extras. But there are exceptions to every rule, especially for events that are being managed by large committees.
Do I need to book my event space before my client gets a tasting? Generally, you book the space, and then get the tasting. Again, there are exceptions. If you’re bringing in a big chunk of business, the caterer may be willing to give you a tasting to help win the deal. But don’t expect this—it’s usually not done. To minimize the risk in case you r client isn’t happy with the tasting, request a second tasting and let the chef (or salesperson) know exactly what your client expects. They want happy customers, so they’ll listen.
What can I expect at the tasting? A sampling of two-to-three items in each food category, served in a variety of styles. Some caterers arrange to have the tasting in the same space where the event will happen, and will dress out the tablescape just as it will be at the event.