Whether your wedding venue is providing catering or you're using an outside vendor, most reliable caterers offer potential clients tastings of their food, from hors d'oeuvres to main courses — and it's a good idea to take them up on it. The tasting has become increasingly important as couples increasingly choose to personalize everything from their signature cocktails to their desserts; this is the only dress rehearsal for food that you have. Here are some tips on things to watch for during your tasting:
1. If you've hired a wedding planner or consultant, you should include him or her in the tasting; it's the wedding planner's job to be the clear-eyed troubleshooter, and to make sure you get the service you want.
2. Look for signs of good-quality foods and ingredients. If the ends of cheese slices appear dry and discolored, that could mean that the cheese was cut hours before — or even yesterday. Are the vegetables brightly colored and not soggy? Is the salad fresh and not wilting? Are baked breads soft and chewy and not stale and hard? Even little things like butter having a refrigerator taste, can be a clue to a caterer's attention — or inattention — to detail.
3. Notice the attentiveness of the staff. If you're attending a buffet tasting, note whether food is allowed to sit out for long periods without being replenished. The caterer should have sufficient staff to keep presentation as fresh looking at 3 p.m. as it was at noon.
4. Ask if it's possible to meet the chef at your tasting. Be sure to thank the chef and offer positive feedback. Once you empower a chef with your attention and confidence, the results can be amazing.