A lot of times venues will tell you that outside caterers are not allowed to use their kitchen. Before I started ShaadiShop and planned my own wedding I interpreted that very literally, as in outside caterers don’t step foot in the kitchen…it’s completely off-limits.
Later I came to understand that it’s a bit more nuanced than that. When a venue’s Catering Manager says, “outside caterers cannot use our kitchen”, what they mean is that caterers cannot cook in the kitchen. Most venues allow caterers to use the kitchen simply for staging and/or storage (on a case-by-case basis, depending on approval from the executive chef).
Then there are some venues that don’t allow the caterer to use their kitchen at all – for cooking nor staging. The reason there are kitchen access restrictions is because of liability issues. Since outside caterers are not employed by the venue, the venue cannot take on any risk associated with their working on-property (actually this applies to all of your wedding vendors, but because cooking deals with potentially dangerous and heavy equipment there are a lot more policies around outside catering).
So what does this mean for you as a couple when you’re selecting your venue? a caterer? For most people the venue’s kitchen policies are not a deal-breaker to select that venue, nor a caterer. Most Indian weddings serve buffet style meals and the reputable caterers have this down pat. The caterers not only know, but are also self sufficient in how to setup their satellite kitchen, how to transport and store the food, setup and cleanup afterwards. Many venues even allow a dosa station, again the caterer is fully sufficient and doesn’t require any assistance from the venue.
It is important, however to ensure your caterer fully understands the venue’s policies – especially if they’re new to a venue. I strongly recommend (and the venue may even require) that new caterers do a walk-through of the venue and meet with their Executive Chef. Actually I recommend this for all weddings – for your peace of mind. While the caterer may have been to that venue several times, you haven’t. It’s your wedding day and you want the peace of mind in knowing that everything will go smoothly.