How to Choose Catering Plans for a Destination Meeting

By Beth Buehler 

Selecting a caterer and a food plan for a destination meeting ranks right up there with making smart choices for lodging, venues, activities and entertainment. If meeting and event attendees are grumpy about the food, I definitely don’t envy the organizer of the gathering. If the food and beverage experience is top-notch, it’s definitely a topic of conversation and ends up on Instagram, Facebook and more. Which side of the planning fence would you rather be on?

To help secure a win in this department, Destination Colorado sought out Robin Berhost, director of sales at Biscuits and Berries Catering Company in Golden, Colorado, for her expertise in this important area.

What are two of the most important things to think about when choosing a caterer for a destination meeting? 

RB: Are they licensed and fully insured in the state you are seeking to host your event? Also, based on our budget, number of attendees, and the service style of the event, what food is the caterer recommending?

Unique beverages and how they are served also are important parts of a beverage plan. Courtesy Biscuits and Berries.

What is a good way to find a caterer for a destination meeting? 

RB: Venue specific lists are a great reference tool for a destination caterer but cross-reference that with blog posts and Event Integrity approved caterers. Also, visit their website and search for reviews to best select a destination caterer

After selecting a caterer, what are the typical steps in coming up with a catering plan? 

RB: Each caterer will have different policies and procedures regarding the “next steps” in their catering plan. Ask them for that information as they are preparing your proposals and ensure it is a good fit for your specific needs

What are some key things to think about when planning food for a meeting? 

RB: Select a caterer with flexible menu options that can easily accommodate any dietary restrictions that your attendees may require.

How can a destination be tied into the culinary experience at a meeting? 

RB: A caterer should be able to tie in locally sourced options to give you a regional flare to your menu selections

What are some catering trends you are seeing in Colorado and perhaps beyond? 

RB: Denver is experiencing so many different trends. People are really loving the global, ethnic flavors. Dishes that are sustainable and Earth friendly also are popular.

Ethnic flavors that utilize local ingredients are popular with attendees. Photo by From the Hip Photo.

Are catering approaches different in the city vs. the mountains vs. the Western Slope? 

People’s culinary preferences can vary based on the location of the event, but our planning/preparation is basically the same in how we get the food on-site, prepare and serve it!

Food served in Colorado’s cities and mountains isn’t that different but good service truly sets caterers apart. Courtesy Biscuits and Berries.

Catering has become more than just about the food tasting good but about the presentation, chef involvement, etc. Share some thoughts on this topic. 

RB: We are seeing many more requests for chefs to cook in front of the guest and manned stations with interactive culinary experiences. Following presentation trends is becoming just as important as the food items themselves.

Seeing how food is presented can help in selecting a caterer. Photo by From the Hip Photo.

How have dietary restrictions changed up catering plans? 

RB: We have created our standard menus to reflect as many dietary restrictions as possible. Changing sauces to already be gluten free, etc. and offering options that can dual as vegetarian or meat added for our carnivorous eaters works well.

Provide a couple of examples of destination meetings Biscuits & Berries has served as caterer for and what made the catering plan distinct/unique.

RB: Merrill Lynch hosted a three-day event at Crooked Willow Farms in Larkspur. Five hundred guests attended the first two days and the last day featured 700. It was a truly Colorado-inspired culinary experience with carved buffalo steamship rounds.

RMC planned a two-day event at Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen for about 800 people. We drove up each day to prepare dinner from a field, under a tent! Day two offered chipotle buffalo sausage, a brisket slider and wild salmon cakes along with a whiskey tasting supplied by Peak Beverage.

Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado in all seasons.