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Tastings: Do’s and Don’ts

You have a tasting scheduled for a corporate catering gig. Keep these tips in mind for best results.


1) Gather information.

Talk to your prospective client about their current catering situation. You want to create a menu that is appropriate for their needs. Find out what they most commonly order from their present caterer(s). Find out how many caterers they order from. Are there any problem areas they are currently experiencing? What do they consider the most important attributes a caterer can offer them?

2) The food you bring.

Think about linking the information gathered about the prospect with the food you will feature at the tasting. For example, if they never have breakfast catered, you may not want to bring samples of breakfast pastries. However, it may also be an opportunity to introduce a new catering opportunity. If they rarely order hot food, there is no need to bring an array of hot entrees. If the majority of their business is sandwiches, then feature your best-selling sandwiches. Ask specific questions about their preferences such as the number of vegetarians served. Are there particular types of breads that are preferred? What types are most popular?

3) Get something in return.

Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Tastings are a significant investment of time and resources. Do not leave without at least getting complete contact information on all the people who order. Do not be reticent about asking, “Is there any upcoming catering this week that we could help out with?” Be prepared to take orders on the spot.


1) Raise the bar.

This is a common mistake. It is tempting to want to “step it up” when presenting food at a tasting. However, by doing so you are setting up your potential new client for disappointment. Do not bring meatier sandwiches or use special garnishes if it’s not your typical modus operandi. If you hear back that “Everything you brought us on the tasting looked better than the first order,” all your hard work is tanked.

2) Promise anything you cannot back up.

If you are only open for breakfast and lunch, do not agree to cater dinner to get the business. If you are closed on Sunday, do not agree to provide service that day. Certainly there are times when you might go above and beyond to accommodate good clients, but now is not the time. After all, they have not yet placed a single order. Do a great job based on the meals you are set up to cater. They will find someone else to do the others.

3) Try to stick a square peg into a round hole.

You cannot be all things to all people. If you have never catered a clambake or a wedding reception, do not agree to do so if asked. Focus on offering the food and services you are familiar with and do well.

Michael Rosman is the CEO of If you need more tips, please visit his website or email him.

Michael Rosman

Michael Rosman

Owner/Founder, The Corporate Caterer, Boston, MA

Michael Rosman is the founder of, a consulting, coaching and lead generation company for businesses that aspire to take their corporate catering business to the next level or start a new division. He is also a Senior Consultant with He can be reached at [email protected].