The caterer you choose for your son’s bar mitzvah will have a massive impact on the event as a whole. A bar mitzvah is a sign of entering adulthood when a young man starts developing his mind on his own.
It’s an exciting time both for his parents and for the child.
While other traditions consider a male a man when he’s 18, this is usually because that’s when he’s old enough to take up arms. The Jewish tradition considers his mental capacity, instead.
A bar mitzvah (which translates to “son of the commandment”) is a title given to every Jewish boy who reaches age 13.
Bar mitzvahs come in different styles. Since this is a personal event, you’ll want to make it uniquely your own and food is a huge part of that.
The most important considerations for any bar mitzvah is the caterer, which (of course) has to be kosher. Ensuring that you choose the perfect caterer will make this event memorable and special.
Why Choosing the Right Caterer is So Important
The caterer you choose can make or break the bar mitzvah. One important thing to remember when you’re picking a caterer is that it’s your event, not theirs. Your caterer should be willing to:
Have an in-person meeting
The right caterer will be happy to meet you in person and answer any of your questions. You can help this meeting run more smoothly by having a list of questions ready for the caterer before you meet. If you check out any catering services that aren’t willing to meet you beforehand, you should probably move onto the next potential caterer.
Listen to your ideas
The perfect caterer for your bar mitzvah will listen as you share your creative ideas. They will be glad to make your event personalized and special according to your wishes. Ultimately, this will be a collaborative effort.
Give you a rundown of your options
A great caterer will be ready with information about your options for their service. Will you have stations, served meals, or a buffet? Perhaps a mix of all three? Choose a caterer who can give you all the important details on their options. Serving individual meals will typically cost more than having a buffet-style catering service, so make sure you budget accordingly.
Be approachable and open
When you choose your caterer, make sure it’s someone with whom you don’t mind spending a lot of time. While planning this once-in-a-lifetime event, you’ll be talking to your caterer a lot. Someone with an approachable and friendly personality will be a lot nicer to work with than someone with whom you don’t get along well.
Quick Tips for Choosing a Caterer
Now that we’ve given you some information on how to recognize the right caterer for you, here are some further tips to ensure you make the correct decision:
Make sure you’re meeting the actual caterer
When you go to meet with the person you’re going to hire for the bar mitzvah, double check that the one you’re meeting is actually the one who will be running your event. Sometimes, they might send a representative who isn’t the actual caterer.
The person who will be in charge of catering for the bar mitzvah should have a professional and user-friendly website, working contact information and be able to show you references.
Request a taste test
Before choosing who will run the food at the bar mitzvah, request to taste the caterer’s options. Taste testing is a fairly standard practice and will help you decide who to choose as your caterer. Everyone has different tastes and, although you may have received a recommendation from a friend, you will only know how you feel about the food once you’ve tested it yourself.
Think back to past events
When was the last time you went to a bar mitzvah, wedding, or other events that required catering? Were there any that stood out? If so, you can ask the people who ran the event for their caterer’s information.
Ask about other aspects of the event
If you’re choosing a kosher caterer, they likely already have experience working with bar mitzvahs. Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions about the event, whether it’s about music or design. Although the catering company’s job is food, they might have some ideas on other parts of the event and have likely seen many of them.
Deciding on the Style of Catering
When you’re in charge of bar mitzvah planning for your son, you’ll soon come up against endless decisions you must make. You’ll have to think about food, music, themes, and other details to create a memorable and special event.
One of the key decisions to make is what style of catering you’ll use. Here are a few options to consider:
Food stations are one popular option as far as catering styles go. Since there will probably be a lot of kids at this event and kids can get restless in a formal setting, food stations are a good bar mitzvah option. Food stations will allow the children to get up and choose their own food and can keep them busy and entertained.
Sit-down style dinner
Sit-down dinners are a more formal option for the bar mitzvah celebration. Whether or not you should go with a sit-down style catering service will depend on your guests and their specific tastes.
In some cases, a sit-down setup may be more appropriate than food stations.
In which cases would sit-down style dinner be more suitable than food stations? A sit-down dinner allows your guests to all order together and eats at the same time.
You can make a menu with a few options for the guest to choose from. A sit-down style bar mitzvah celebration may not work if you have a lot of younger children coming to the event, though.
A buffet is a simple, casual option for your child’s bar mitzvah. Buffet-style catering allows you to serve a wide variety of options for your guests. You can even separate them into categories to make it easier for people to make their selections.
It also gives your guests the freedom to move about and eat as they please while engaging in other activities.
Choosing a Caterer for the Event
Make sure you select an insured, licensed caterer that you feel comfortable working with. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you make the right choice:
Ask to see references
As mentioned earlier, your caterer should have references ready to go when you ask. Do your due diligence and check these references to help narrow down your options. If you can get a few positive reviews for the caterer, you’ll have more peace of mind about choosing them.
Request budget-friendly options
One way to see how willing your prospective caterer is to work with you is to ask them about their budget-friendly options.
Let them know the price range you’re working with and see how much they have to offer within that. Oftentimes, caterers will have a wide range of services available for a variety of prices.
Do your research
A bar mitzvah is an event that only comes once in your child’s life. It’s worth taking your time to find the perfect caterer. Remember that there are countless kosher caterers out there who would be good to hire.
Do some online research, ask the venue you want to host the bar mitzvah at and ask your friends for recommendations.
Should you have a brunch bar mitzvah?
One alternative to catering a dinner for your child’s bar mitzvah is to do a brunch bar mitzvah. Brunch is an excellent meal to have catered as it sets a relaxed and fun atmosphere and doesn’t feel as formal.
Brunch options can work for both large and small events. With a brunch option, you might get more food choices than you would with dinner catering.
Budgeting for Your Bar Mitzvah Caterer
In order for any event to be a success, you have to consider the bar mitzvah budget you’re working with and stick to it. The type of food you’ll get and the quality of the catering service will depend on this budget, so decide that amount first.
Here are the steps for making a catering budget for the bar mitzvah:
Make a guest list
Before you can decide on how much to spend, you’ll need to know who your guests are and how expensive their tastes will be. Do you want to invite only close loved ones or are you going to expand your guest list to include acquaintances?
For family and friends, you can have a more casual set-up with the food whereas an upscale crowd will require a larger budget.
Have a plan
Meet with your potential caterers and ask them what meal plans they have available and what the price ranges are. Once you tell them how many people you expect to be there and the type of food you want, you should be able to get an estimate on costs.
Think about drinks
Decide whether or not you want to serve alcohol at the bar mitzvah as this will drive up the price considerably. If you’re looking to save money, you could have an alcohol-free function or ask guests to bring their own alcoholic beverages.
Another option is to give each adult in attendance redeemable tickets for two free drinks and then ask them to pay for it if they want more.
If you are going to have alcohol, this can affect other portions of your planning as well. Your event space, DJ, and other local laws or rules may come into play.
Consider other costs
Find out whether your caterer will charge you for non-food items like heat sources, labor, setup fees, dishes, and more. Ask if they charge extra for providing foods that meet people’s dietary restrictions as you may have guests that require this. Asking these questions ahead of time will help prevent you from being surprised by hidden fees.
Once you know what your caterer expects you to pay and what you feel comfortable with spending, you can adjust your plan to fit your budget. There are ways you can cut costs such as providing kosher snack items or asking the caterer to serve large batches of food instead of individual meals.
Guidelines on Tipping the Caterer
When you’re planning to hire a caterer for a bar mitzvah, you’ll need to think about how much to tip them. After you get some recommendations and meet with some prospective caters, you’ll have an idea of what you will owe. Some caterers already charge an automatic gratuity of between 18 and 20 percent.
If you choose a caterer that doesn’t automatically charge a tip, however, you can add this on yourself. Unless you’re completely dissatisfied with the service, tipping is standard and expected. You can let your party guests know that they can tip the servers individually if they wish to.
Ready for the Event of a Lifetime?
Unsure about what to serve your guests? A good idea for a kosher meal is roasted vegetables with potatoes and chicken breast. Or you could serve your guest’s prime rib, veal, or filet mignon.
For vegetarian items, you can serve eggplant quiche or kugel, a Jewish catering staple. And if you don’t have any ideas of your own for kosher catering dishes, just ask some potential caterers.
Caterers can help you create the event of your dreams and are there during some of the most meaningful events during life. Your child’s bar mitzvah will only happen once so you’ll want to choose the best of the best.
While food is a large part of the event, this is a special day to enjoy with your loved ones. Keep in mind that the right caterer will be able to take your wishes and turn them into something amazing.
Need some more party ideas for the bar mitzvah? Don’t be afraid to ask caterers for advice on other event questions unrelated to food.
Featured Image: CC0, by FotographieLink, via Pixabay