50+ SAMPLE Catering Request for Proposal

What Is a Catering Request For Proposal?

A catering request for proposal is a formal request submitted by a client or an event organizer looking to contract the services of a catering business and provide food or meals to the former’s event.  

According to Statista, the market size of the catering sector saw an increase in 2021. From a sizable dip in 2020 of 14.22 billion U.S. dollars, the catering business market size for 2021 was predicted to reach an estimated 15.36 billion U.S. dollars. 

Tips When Choosing a Caterer

Depending on the scale of your event, choosing the right caterer can be a make or break deal. Food is one of the most basic items on any event planner’s checklist. And deciding on who will provide the food in your event is a crucial decision. If you are planning an event and are still undecided as to who to select as a caterer, it might be helpful to keep the following tips in mind: 

Track Record. As a client, you need to look at track record. Track record matters and this goes for all external vendors; whether it is catering or social media management, a supplier’s portfolio or work experience should be taken into account in your decision-making process. There are many ways to check a catering service’s track record. Most catering businesses or companies have an official website or a social media page. You can easily check these online resources and gauge their relationship with their clients or customers. If you are unsure or unfamiliar with a catering service, read up on client reviews. Better yet, ask for referrals from trusted friends or loved ones. Response Time. One way to gauge if a catering service is professional and dependable is by their response time. Realistically, ample time should be awarded when it comes to business transactions; but there also is a reasonable period of time that most people expect to get a reply. Quick responsiveness implies that the vendor or supplier is interested in honoring your partnership and delivering the best kind of service. In other words, it is essentially respecting the time and agreement of the client. Thus, it is understandable for a customer to get irked if a supplier takes too long to return a request or to respond. A few days or even a week’s wait is perfectly understandable. However, in cases such as catering agreements, several months or even not hearing back anymore is considered unacceptable. Proper Documentation. Another important thing to consider when selecting a caterer is how consistent they are with documentation. A catering contract is a business transaction and thus, it must be properly documented with the appropriate paperwork. From the initial contract agreement, transmittals, sales invoice, official receipts even down to the insurance coverage, a professional caterer is organized and ensures that these important paperwork are readily on file and issued to the client in a timely manner. Not only does having a sound documentation process vital in case of emergencies or unforeseen problems, it also speaks of the trustworthiness and competence of the food provider. Trust and Dependability. An obvious factor you want to consider when hiring a caterer is whether you can trust the supplier. As much as possible, you want to engage the services of a caterer you can trust and rely on, especially in the event that you encounter unexpected issues. You want to avoid unnecessary problems to blow up on the day of your event because the caterer was not able to set up on time or there was a mix up in the kitchen. Although situations like these are not 100% within the vendor or even the client’s control, it still makes an incredible difference to have a reliable caterer or food provider who can skillfully respond to crises well.

Sample Specifications In a Catering Request For Proposal

There are different kinds of requests for proposals. It can cover a wide variety of industries and fields of work. For a catering request for proposal, it can cover more than just food-related information, it must also be targeted and specific enough for the vendor’s sake. The following examples below are some basic specifications that you should not neglect to include in your request for proposal.

Catering Needs. The purpose of creating a catering request for proposal is to seek a prospective business partnership. This cannot be realized if the needs of the client are not discussed. As an introduction or opening statement in your request for proposal or RFP, you can outline and describe your event details. The caterer should be able to have a general idea of the kind of event you are having. This also allows them to ascertain if they have the resources and means to serve you. Other catering needs pertaining to menu and the like ought to be present as well. Will your event require a 5-course meal or a dessert buffet? It is best to be specific and descriptive when listing down your catering needs. Necessary Equipment. Aside from menu items, you might want to provide information too about the type of equipment you will be requiring for the event. This may include the number of tables, chairs, centerpieces, buffet tables, flower arrangements and other décor. Many big catering companies readily provide these equipment and incorporate them in their catering packages. Just like with food, you must also be descriptive and detailed in this particular section. For example, if you require linen to go with your tables and chairs, make sure to specify the color or fabric of the linen. It helps to be attentive to detail even in the early stages of your event planning. Dietary Restrictions. Another basic specification that should be covered in your catering request for proposal is any dietary restrictions. A lot of people have various kinds of food allergies, diet restrictions or special preferences when it comes to their meals. If you are the main organizer of an event, you want to ensure that your guests have a safe and pleasant dining experience. So you need to take into consideration any unique circumstances that might arise in relation to the catering. Whether it is vegan-friendly food, a low sodium diet, gluten-free food, non-dairy products or even restrictions due to religious reasons, these are important things to include when drafting your catering request for proposal. Guest Details. Almost basic as the event details are the guest details. Your prospective caterer would need to know how many people they will be serving. In your catering request for proposal, make sure to include the general guest information in order to manage expectations for both parties. In addition to the number of attendees for the event, you can even inform the caterer what groups of people to expect. For instance, what kind of groups are expected to attend the event? If the event is a conference or seminar, who is the primary audience? If the vendor is aware that guests are students, senior citizens or even religious groups, then they can prepare or personalize their service accordingly.

How to Create a Catering Request For Proposal

When crafting a catering request for proposal, it is largely similar to writing a basic request for proposal; only it is meant to accommodate catering-related requirements. If you want more ease and convenience, using a ready-made template from the collection above will save you a lot of time. Once you have selected a sample template that suits your needs, simply follow the quick tutorial guidelines below.   

Step 1: Background

The first step in creating a catering request for proposal is to introduce yourself and offer a brief background of your business or company. The vendor needs to have a general idea of your business before entering into a formal agreement. You do not necessarily have to give a very detailed description of yourself or your enterprise. A brief and straightforward overview will do. A request for proposal should still maintain a sense of formality and professionalism; so opening your catering RFP by offering a quick background helps to maintain that purpose.    

Step 2: Goals and Objectives

After introducing yourself, the next step is to cite the reasons and objective of why you are requesting the caterer’s services. What is the main purpose of your need for catering? You can proceed to describing and explaining a little more on the nature of the event, the basic details (e.g., date, time, location), the timeline or the duration of the program. As the client or event organizer, you need to ensure that your needs are properly communicated. This will not only prevent any needless misunderstandings but will help promote a more productive and smooth business partnership.      

Step 3: Terms and Requirements   

Similar to a contract agreement, you need to lay down your terms and specify your event requirements. This entire section is dedicated to enumerating and detailing your specifications. Whether it is a particular food dish, menu modifications, equipment rental or even diet restrictions, you can include these guidelines in your catering request for proposal. As much as possible, you want you and the prospective supplier to be on the same page and avoid miscommunication. Documenting your requirements and establishing your terms in your catering RFP will promote greater clarity and transparency.       

Step 4: Additional Queries

Once you have covered the terms and specifications, you can dedicate a section or portion of your catering request for proposal for any additional questions or inquiries that you want to ask prospective caterers. If you have any concerns or special requests regarding anything from payment guidelines, outside food, alcoholic beverages or liquor and other banquet-related matters.    


What is a catering proposal?

A catering proposal is a written formal proposal prepared by catering businesses to attract prospective clients. It is essentially a sales pitch meant to inform and persuade clients to engage the services of a caterer.

What is RFP in the food industry?

RFP or request for proposal in the food industry can be broadly generalized as a catering request for proposal wherein the interested party bids a caterer or multiple caterers to serve food at the former’s event.

What are the four types of catering?

According to Randy Peters Catering and Events, the four types of catering can be broadly categorized into wedding catering, corporate catering, social event catering and concession catering.

Catering is fundamental for a lot of major events. Whether it be a wedding, a birthday party or an international conference, the choice of a caterer is an important one for any event organizer or event planner. Browse the editable sample templates above to easily customize your own catering request for proposal!