Planning the Catering Options For Your Conference

Organizing catering for a conference requires meticulous planning to ensure the attendees’ needs are met while staying within budget. Here are some steps and ideas to help you navigate the catering process for your conference at the South San Francisco Conference Center:

1. Determine Your Budget

Before anything else, determine how much you’re willing to spend on food and drinks. This will guide your decisions on the type and quantity of items you’ll select.

2. Know Your Audience

  • Dietary Restrictions: Ascertain if attendees have any dietary restrictions such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, halal, allergies, etc. It’s vital to cater to these needs to ensure everyone has options available.
  • Cultural Considerations: If you’re hosting international attendees, be aware of their food preferences and cultural norms.

3. Morning Breakfast

  • Hot options: Eggs (scrambled, boiled, omelets), sausages, bacon, pancakes, waffles, hash browns.
  • Cold options: Cereal, yogurt, fruits, cheeses, cold cuts, pastries, muffins.
  • Beverages: Coffee (regular and decaf), tea, milk, fruit juices, water.
  • Special Dietary Options: Oat milk, almond milk, gluten-free pastries, vegan spreads.

4. Lunch

  • Main Course: Think variety. Chicken, beef, fish, and vegetarian/vegan dishes.
  • Sides: Rice, quinoa, potatoes, salad varieties, steamed or roasted vegetables.
  • Sandwiches/Wraps: Offer an assortment, including meat-filled, vegetarian, and vegan options.
  • Soups: At least one vegetarian option.
  • Desserts: Fresh fruits, cakes, pies, cookies. Consider having sugar-free or low-calorie options.
  • Beverages: Soft drinks, iced tea, lemonade, sparkling water, regular water.

5. Snacks Throughout the Day

  • Healthy options: Fruit platters, vegetable sticks with hummus or dip, nuts, granola bars.
  • Indulgent options: Cookies, brownies, chips, popcorn.
  • Drinks: Coffee, tea, water, soft drinks.

6. Work Closely with the Venue

  • Tasting Session: If possible, schedule a tasting session with the conference center’s catering team to sample menu items.
  • Logistics: Ensure they can handle the volume of attendees. Discuss layout options, like buffet-style or seated meals. Determine if there are additional costs for table setup, tableware, etc.
  • Flexibility: Talk about last-minute changes. Can they accommodate a sudden increase in attendees or address unexpected dietary restrictions?

7. Presentation and Packaging

For snacks and potentially lunch, think about packaging. If attendees might want to take items to sessions, ensure the packaging is practical and not too noisy.

8. Feedback from Past Events

If you have access to feedback from past events or conferences, review any comments related to food. This can help you make informed decisions and avoid past mistakes.

9. Sustainability

Given the increasing emphasis on eco-friendliness, ensure the caterers provide options like compostable plates and cutlery or have a system in place for food waste.

10. Emergency Contacts

Have a list of emergency contacts from the catering team in case of unexpected hitches on the event day.

Collaboration and open communication with the South San Francisco Conference Center’s catering team are crucial. Ensure that you have a clear plan, but also be ready for adjustments as they come up – start working with our team today to get your catering options set up.