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How to Identify a Great Catering ConsultantSTEVE WHITE PAPER

Education and Background

  • Has a hotel/restaurant or culinary school education
  • Is currently active in the industry and has had measurable success


  • Personally works with or knows a close colleague of the Chef, F&B Manager and/or General Manager
  • Has global connections to high profile and high caliber talent
  • Has strong relationships with top producers and designers


  • Is not a solo act but part of leading catering company
  • Enhances service level at the event by effectively teaming up with the front- of -the house staff




The Big Things, The Little Things And The Other Things That Add So Much

The new normal of doing better work with fewer resources can mean engaging the services of a well connected Catering Consultant can be one of the smartest things you can do.



* A good catering consultant will save you money and help you produce a better event. A good consultant can buy catering more efficiently than you can which will lower expenses and achieve better results within your existing budget.

* The consultant should have an insider’s knowledge of how different caterers and/or hotels operate. This includes knowing what things really cost and what a fair profit should be.
* A good consultant develops cost effective menus that delight the guests and reduce the caterer’s risk. When caterers are insecure about quantities or presentations they will overproduce, which is a waste of your money.  Also, menus that are too complicated or overly trendy will leave the caterer with an unusable inventory of goods – which you eventually pay for.

*The role of a consultant is not adversarial, but cooperative. When done properly you, the producer, will get the best for your budget and the caterer will be able to provide a great event.

* The consultant should be flat fee based which makes expenditures transparent and without a mark-up. After all, markups are what you are trying to avoid.




* A catering consultant should not be a solo act but should part of a leading catering company. This means their expertise is current and they have resources ready at hand.

* A catering consultant provides additional products, services, and equipment at cost.

* A catering consultant should have access to in-house personnel such as sushi chefs, service captains, sommeliers, salumi butchers, pastry chefs or cheese mongers, all of whom can be incorporated into your event.

* Being part of a large organization means the consultant has the horse power to purchase expensive or exclusive items at a favorable cost to you.

* Catering is an equipment sport. Often caterers and hotels don’t have the resources of unique china, glassware or service equipment.  A good consultant has ready access to new products and valuable equipment.




* A great party is not just about a good menu; a great party is an environment of amazing, delightful, and sensory experiences that support the client’s underlying criteria for having the event.

* A good consultant will incorporate the core criteria of the event into the flow and design of the party.

* Lighting, décor, and event production are key ingredients to any event. A good consultant has hands-on experience in these areas and also works with top producers and designers.




* The catering consultant’s responsibility goes beyond guest satisfaction and fiscal control. One final goal of the catering consultant is to provide a favorable impression of the end client to all those involved in the production of the event.

* Everyone involved with the execution of the event may or may not be able to purchase the client’s products or services, but they should hold the client in high esteem.
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Steve Denison is a Senior Partner at McCalls Catering San Francisco

And can be reached at 415.552.8550 and

Previous Special Events Article on Steve Denison


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