How to hire a great caterer for your next event or party

What party would be complete without delicious food? It’s the secret ingredient that keeps your guests dancing and having fun well into the small hours – so it’s important your caterer serves up a feast everyone can enjoy.

At Bark, we’re proud to be helping people throughout the UK find great local catering companies. But before we start putting you in touch with caterers in your area, you need to know what you’re looking for.

To help you choose the right pro for you, we created this easy guide to hiring a great caterer for your next event or party.

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Know your guest profile

While it might be relatively easy to create a menu your closest friends will enjoy, when planning larger events you’ll often need to cater for a range of tastes and eating requirements.

For example, older attendees may prefer a milder, less adventurous menu to younger guests. Meanwhile, guests concerned with health and fitness may prefer more seafood or vegetarian options.

Considering your guests’ preferences in this way should help you arrive at a much clearer idea about what sort of caterer you’re looking for.

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Plan your menu

Once you know what sorts of guest you’re expecting, it’s time to start planning your menu.

With Bark, this is easy. Simply indicate what sorts of cuisine you’ll consider when placing your Bark and ask the pros who respond to your request to propose a menu tailored to suit your tastes.

Make sure you know whether you’ll need to provide vegetarian or gluten-free options so your caterer can make sure there’s something for everyone.

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Do you want any additional services?

Some caterers are more “full service” than others – and the level of service that’s right for you will depend on the kind of event you’re planning.

If you’re planning a birthday garden party, you might be happy with a simple buffet service. But for a larger event like a wedding, you’ll likely need cutlery, table linens, a full waiter service and more.

Simply select the level of service you’re looking for from our checklist when placing your Bark to help us find local caterers who meet your requirements.

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Sample the food in advance

It’s often a good idea to sample a few different caterers’ food before you hire someone. This gives you a chance to check the quality of their cooking and to experience how the food will be presented.

It’s also a great opportunity to meet the chef and determine how flexible they are. Many caterers will be happy to adjust their dishes to your tastes – so don’t be afraid to make your feedback heard.

Click the link below to now place your Bark we’ll do all the legwork to get you multiple quotes from local caterers fast and free.

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Rugby World Cup 2015 – Let the games begin!

At last the gusto, chatting and mind games can finally come to an end as we find ourselves on the eve of the start of the Rugby World Cup. This is not any ordinary World Cup being hosted in England. You feel a repeat of their run to the final in 1991, the last time the tournament was played on home soil, represents the bare minimum most fans, players and pundits expect. We at Bark.com have been as guilty as anyone in getting excited and with friends across the Severn Bridge becoming sworn enemies over the next couple of weeks; it promises to be a tasty pool stage.

Rugby World Cup - England 2015 garden party
Have yourself a ball this Autumn

The plan is that much like the class of 2003 and the Ashes Winning side of 2005 and the football team of…oh wait… this side has the ability to inspire a nation. It may lead to younger children looking for coaching or perhaps for those already playing and seeing the size of those on the field, regular trips to the gym or hiring a personal trainer may be on the cards. It could well be the flexibility of the players that has you in awe and in that case don’t be afraid to do a Ryan Giggs and hire a yoga instructor or find a Pilates experts but there is always the far more appealing option of finding a hiring a massage therapist to ease those muscle aches and pains.

If participating isn’t for you then there is still plenty to do as a spectator and a number of ways to enjoy the experience. While most would have been unable to get their hands on tickets or flat out refuse to pay the extortionate fees, the TV at home or pub with friends represents a decent alternative. You may want to host a rugby-related event for friends and family, or you could leave the barbecuing to the expert and let the good times flow. If you’re really going to get in to the tournament, you may also be keen to look the part and get the shirt of your choice to help support your team; you will not be struggling to find Rugby World Cup memorabilia for the next six weeks.

BBQ enjoying World Cup
We don’t want any shrimps on the barbie…

Hope can often be one of the worst human emotions but hope is exactly what this English team represents. If a tricky group containing fellow heavyweights Australia and Wales can be negotiated and South Africa can be avoided in the quarter-finals then England can expect to go pretty close to claiming the Webb Ellis Trophy which they last won down under in 2003. An encouraging Six Nations performance, much-improved display against Ireland in their final warm-up and a patriotic Twickenham crowd who will be present throughout has given renewed confidence to this mercurial but inexperienced England side.  The likes of Jonathan Joseph, George Ford and Andre Watson all have the ability to be match winners on their day but none have ever played so far as a minute in a World Cup match. Be bold, courageous and back your skills should surely be the advice to let these young flyers flourish.

You only have to look back to 1995 and the victory for the Rainbow Nation and the iconic image of Nelson Mandela handing the trophy to South Africa captain Francois Pienaar to see the enormous unifying nature that the tournament can offer. Let’s hope the country can take heed from that competition as well as the feel-good factor of the 2012 London Olympics and get behind the home nations and give the whole country a lift.

Food For Thought: What’s Filling Plates At This Year’s Summer Parties?

Here at Bark, we’re all food fanatics. Not a lunch can go by without somebody suggesting a stroll to the nearby food market to sample the somewhat absurd variety of cuisine there is on offer.

Interest in food has sky-rocketed in recent years, perhaps down to the explosion of ‘Food Porn’ imagery that is posted across social media each day. In fact, in the UK alone last year, the word ‘food’ was mentioned 155 million times by social media users, whilst the hashtag #foodporn was included in 50 million images on Instagram. From Poutine to Martinis, here’s what you’ll likely be dining on at this year’s summer parties.

The Reinvention of the Burger Ask anyone and they’ll say the same thing: ‘The Burger is a staple of any memorable summer party’. Yes, it’s usually overcooked to the point of oblivion and resembles more a hockey puck rather than something even remotely edible, but why complain? It’s just a beef burger, right? Wrong.

Pork Belly Burger. New burger trend
The burger will undergo a makeover of sorts this summer

Whereas sliders and posh burgers have dominated summers past, this year the twist is centred on what animal the burger on your plate actually derives from. Duck, lobster and pork belly are all vying to be the meat of choice in your burger this year, meaning you may need an animal picture chart to identify what you’re eating this summer.

Poutine: So what’s the perfect accompaniment to the burger? Chips, off course! Once again, much like the burger, there’s a twist on a Great British favourite this summer thanks to our Canadian friends across the pond. Put simply, Poutine is chips, cheese and gravy and it’s delicious. Its versatility is key; add something extra to it like pulled pork; your taste buds will forever be in your debt…

Poutine: Summer food trends 2015
The new accompaniment to a summer party

Love Your Lobster: Here’s something to sink your claws into: The UK is going cray-zy for Lobster. The rise of the likes of Burger & Lobster has made the food a lot more accessible and affordable, and we’re making the most of it. The Capital is slowly becoming packed full of Lobster pop-ups, market stalls and kitchens, and it makes for a perfect addition to a summer party. So next time you’re at a summer party, jump on the bandwagon and go for a mouth-watering Lobster Roll, the ideal summer seafood dish.

Lobster
Jump on the Lobster bandwagon this year

A Bitter Twist: No summer party is complete without a cocktail or three, and with that in mind, we’ve taken a look at what your party attendees will be sipping on this summer. Out are sugary cocktails such as your appletinis and your daiquiris; in is something a little more bitter. If you’re hosting a party soon, we suggest stocking up on Amaro and Campari. The bitter, the better, it seems.

Keep an eye out for Vermouth too; that’s also enjoying a moment, especially with its biggest advocate, Mr. James Bond, hitting our screens once again in his latest film, Spectre, this October. Anyone for a Martini? Shaken, not stirred, of course…

Bitter Cocktails Summer 2015
Cocktails this summer: The bitter, the better

Get The Scoop: So we’ve talked mains and what tipple to wash it down with, but what about dessert? There’s only one option to satisfy our sweet tooth this summer…Ice Cream. Homemade ice creams and sorbets are the scoop of the summer and they’re easy to make. Try to include fresh fruits such as raspberry or blueberry; the sharp, sweet flavour will clash nicely with those bitter cocktails we’ve just discussed, and the chilled texture will offer perfect respite to the summer heat. We can’t think of a more refreshing and cooler way to see out a summer party.

Home made Ice Cream and Sorbets
The scoop of the summer

Let’s Get Digital: Perhaps not quite a food trend for a Summer Party, but your smartphone is about to become a valuable dinner partner. This year has seen an upturn in the number of restaurants going digital. Be it paying for your meal via your iPhone, or booking a table or settling a bill amongst friends, your phone will make your dining experience a very interactive affair. And what kind of summer party is it if you don’t have a dedicated playlist? Apple’s newly launched streaming service, Apple Music, will help you here. Just leave the cooking to the expert.

Digital interaction is on the rise in dining
Digital interaction is on the rise in dining

Thinking of hosting a summer party this year but panicking at the thought of putting it altogether? Why not hire a caterer to do the job for you? All you’ll have to do is play the gracious host…

For more Bark.com tips and insight, why not check out our other blogs?

What are you hoping to see grace your plate at your summer party this year? Let us know

Can you plan your Wedding with Bark?

My wife reminded me the other day that it’s coming up to our 4th anniversary and I got to thinking how much easier planning a wedding would have been if Bark.com had existed.

I thought I’d take a look at the categories on Bark to ensure we have everything needed to ensure couple’s special day goes off without a hitch.

Wedding Catering

It’s vital to have the right catering for guests. Many may have travelled for hours to the venue, waited for the bride, sat through the ceremony, drank the welcome Champagne or Bucks Fizz and be starving by the time food is served. Often a round of canapés after the ceremony while the couple is having their pictures taken is a good idea, followed by the wedding breakfast and whether it’s buffet style or a 3 course silver service meal we can help you choose the best caterers from over 35,000 available.

Wedding Decorations

Often weddings will have a theme – mine was “red” but I’ve heard things like “Frozen”, “flowers” or even “Places we’ve been”. If you’re like me and have the creative flair of a mole then you may need a professional to help bring your vision to life. I’ve seen some fantastic examples at the weddings I’ve been to (I’m at that part of my life where it’s a few weddings every Summer) and some of them must have had professional decorating help from one of the 1500 Wedding Decorators or 1000+ Florists Bark can connect you with.

Wedding Bouquet, Wedding Flowers

Wedding Photographer & Videography

One of the best bits of advice given to me was not to scrimp on a wedding photographer and to do some test shoots to see who made you feel most comfortable and therefore got the best shots. I’m so glad we did as the photographer we ended up choosing was just awesome and we were so happy with the eventual pictures. If we ever have a renewal of vows party I’ll either use the same one again or choose from one of the 1000s of expert Wedding Photographers on Bark.

Increasingly couples are using videographers to capture the day and use it to send to relatives around the world who can’t be there in person or to keep for when you’re older to remind you of how slim you were once. Fortunately you can make sure you’re only captured from the best angle by choosing from one of almost 4000 Videographers Bark can connect you with.

Wedding Cakes

The centre piece of the Wedding Breakfast and generally cutting it is the cue to start dancing like a crazy family. Getting the right cake maker can cost a few hundred to a few thousand pounds, but it’s worth it for the intricate icing work and attention to detail you can get. Many cakes are then personalised to the couple – I recall one of my friends having the bride and groom figures in a Costa mug (where they met) and with my own Cake we’d secretly arranged for the colours of the Mauritian Flag to be layered through the top tier in honour of my wife’s family – quite a surprise when it was cut. Bark wasn’t around then so we found Magical Cakery through a friend but if Bark were around we’d have had a choice of over 500 wedding cake makers

Wedding Cake

Dance Lessons

I can’t dance – everyone knows it. That made it really awkward when I had to dance with my new bride in front of all my friends and family and ended up looking like a demented octopus. If this is you too you could either ensure the videographer’s gone home, ban videos and hope your friends and family have had too much of the wine you paid for to remember, or you could use Bark to get some dance lessons and come out looking awesome. If your wedding is very traditional you could even go for Ballroom Dance Lessons.

Wedding Band or DJ

Whether it’s a band for the ceremony, a classy String Quartet or an evening DJ for helping your family cast some shapes on the dance floor Bark can help find that too. As a little tip ensure you order an extra meal for the band members and the DJ – always makes them feel good, doesn’t cost too much, and you’ll get a better service from them too.

Wedding Planning

Bark can take the pain out of finding the best local wedding suppliers and leave you in control of coordinating the gig. If you want even that taken care of, and let’s face it there is a lot to do, then we can also find you a Wedding Planner from the 6000+ we have available.

And so much more

There’s so much more Bark can help with too from designing and printing the invitations to engraving the rings to hiring transport for the day – I’m exhausted just thinking about all the work I did for my wedding and wish Bark was around to do the leg work for me back then.

Wedding Car

What do you think? Have I missed anything off that helps make the perfect Wedding? Let us know.

Author: John Oberlin-Harris