Gear up.

Food quality and freshness are the most critical drivers for 86 percent of consumers when choosing a catering vendor, according to Technomic Inc. That means that how the food is packaged and how it's held matter as much as preparation.

Food must be in pristine condition and appetizing on arrival. Remember, catered food is an ambassador for your brand, if it's not perfect, customers will think less of your restaurant—and may not ever go to it or go back to it.

Essential prep and packaging tools:

  • Instant-read thermometers
  • Temperature gauges
  • Hot boxes, refrigerators, freezers, and other holding equipment
  • Insulated carriers with easily closed doors and latches for transport
  • Full-size aluminum containers with secure-fitting lids
  • “Green” takeout packaging if sustainability is important to your customer base
  • Food trucks/delivery vehicles with hot boxes and/or refrigeration/freezers
  • Disposable cutlery, napkins, cups, etc.
  • Serving equipment—chafing dishes, coolers, carafes, etc.—as value-added loaners or rentals.
  • Best-quality, leakproof packaging that keeps food at the proper temperature and is easy for consumers to manage
  • Cross-ventilated packaging that keeps fried food crisp and prevents sogginess while maintaining its temperature
  • Temperature logs

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