Catering is one of the most important ingredients for the planning of some common events. Preparing the delicious delicacies that make an event special is the domain of the event caterer. Armed with specialty dishes, culinary delights and dietary alternatives, the many food options the caterer offers can entice, inspire and satisfy event guests, making it a central focus of event activities. Caterers typically offer a signature selection of hors d'oeuvres, salads and entrees, desserts and beverages.

Caterers can be individuals, small businesses, or chefs associated with a hotel or restaurant. Many hotel venues offer in-house catering services, or may suggest a proven and responsible catering service with

whom they have enjoyed a professional relationship. Caterers typically provide the serving dishes for a buffet, such as chafing dishes, warming trays, serving utensils and beverages, such as tea and coffee. Artistic chefs may also offer hand-carved ice sculptures as the focal point of a special table, and some supply tableware with accompanying flatware to provide the greatest culinary impact.

A banquet serves the purpose of gathering event guests together for the purpose of presenting awards, recognizing achievement, celebrating accomplishments, or introducing new ideas. Banquets may be defined as those relaxed opportunities to introduce guests to like-minded professionals, long-lost friends, or new acquaintances. The banquet can be a simple affair served by a buffet of culinary dishes, or can be rendered in the more formal format of table service, replete with formally-attired waiters and waitresses.

The caterer offers dishes in accordance with the desires of the event sponsors, providing any number of menu options generally priced on a per-person basis. Caterers are also flexible, capable of producing variations of dishes or offering specialty menus to accommodate the needs of guests limited in their food choices due to diabetes, weight loss programs, or allergies.

The caterer must have an idea of the number of guests expected to attend the banquet, and details must be defined as to the types of drinks to be served, the selections of hors d’oeuvres prior to the main meal, and the desserts that follow. In addition, the caterer may provide servers for the event, and needful equipment such as chafing dishes, plates, glasses, and tableware. Necessarily, these details must be carefully considered, that the event take place without experiencing the horror of a banquet marred by the lack of personnel, necessary tools to conduct food service, or worse, running out of food.

Determining the number of guests anticipated to attend a banquet is most easily ascertaining by on-line registry, return RSVP to delivered invitations, ticket sales, or sign-up sheets. Allotments should also be made for the occasional important guest whom fails to reserve a seat, as well as for unexpected guests, or last-minute invitations. For this reason, caterers often promise delivery of a reasonable excess to accommodate extra guests who might otherwise be turned away from joining in the festivities.