Creativity needs fuel: How to order catering like a pro

World renowned, Bi-Rite Market, shares tips on what to order, how much to get, and other catering menu ideas.

While prepackaged meals are convenient, delighting your guests with food that helps them feel their best through a meeting or event requires attention and expertise. At the forefront of the movement to change the way we think about catering is San Francisco-based, Bi-Rite Market. Ranked by Forbes as one of the Top 25 Best Small Companies in the US, Bi-Rite attributes their success to an ongoing philosophy that food is the conduit to vibrant communities.

We spoke with Sue Mackimmie, Bi-Rite’s sales manager, to understand the value – but also the difficulty – of ordering catering correctly. Here, she shares her process for building catering menus that delight event attendees. We then partnered to create a Quantity Calculator and Menu Template so that anyone can order catering like a pro.

Check out the catering guides:

Quantity Calculator

Catering Menu Ideas - Quantity Calculator

The image above is a preview. Click to view the full infographic. 

Menu Template: What To Order

Catering Menu Ideas - What To Order

The image above is a preview. Click to view the full infographic. 

Growing up on her family’s farm of orange groves instilled a love of food at an early age, and Mackimmie continues to be passionate about creating strong ties through food. She works each day with the Bi-Rite team to make sure that every meal that goes out their door is held to the highest standard. This attention to detail helps clients create the right environment to build community and collaborate over a meal.

“Food is the most personal experience and conduit between people,” Mackimmie says. “The first question with any meeting is what are we going to eat? That’s because it’s more than a meal. It feeds your brain, it’s how you feel, and it impacts how you work.”

Catering Menu Ideas

While Bi-Rite has perfected the art of slow, handcrafted food, any company can incorporate this philosophy into their food plans. Having facilitated catering for countless offsites, meetings, conferences and events, Mackimmie is an expert when it comes to knowing how to help clients create an exceptional catering experience, starting with the most frequent question she’s asked by clients: How much food should I order?

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To tackle this common challenge, Bi-Rite has devised a clever way of thinking about servings, known as “Bites.” A bite is a one portion (think about the amount of something that would fit on a serving spoon). This useful unit of measurement makes it easy to calculate how much to order. 

Catering Menu Ideas

The first step is to take the number of guests that will attend your event and multiply it by how many bites you would like them to have. Here is the rubric that Mackimmie uses to figure out how many bites each person will need.

3 bites: Three bites is just enough to stave off starvation. It’s perfect for a morning break or light apps before a panel.

6 bites: Six bites is the ideal amount to bridge the gap between meals. This is enough food to take up an hour of noshing and talking such as heavy apps, with each person having a bite every ten minutes while they talk or work.

12 bites: Ten to twelve bites is considered a full meal. If you are having a breakfast meeting or evening event, this is enough to fill people up.

Once you have the total number of bites, divide by 15 (the number of bites in a platter), to figure out how many catering platters to order. Try get enough of each item so that every attendee can try one bite of each. If you’re ready to give the formula a shot, explore the full Quantity Calculator.

Now that you know how much to order, it’s time to figure out what items to get. For ideas on building a catering order, check out our Catering Menu Template.

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