How to start Catering business with little investment guide for individuals want to quit their jobs and start their careers as an entrepreneur are as follows:
Description of Job
• Prepare meals to a client’s specifications.
• Offer a range of theme and gourmet menus for special occasions.
A good caterer brings excitement, elegance, and professionalism to any gathering,
large or small.
In a business setting, there is often no choice but to bring in a caterer for a
meeting or social event. Offices and halls may not have a kitchen on-site, and in
any case, cooking for the CEO and important customers is not generally part of
the job description for the head of marketing.
For private parties and gatherings in a home, hiring a caterer relieves the
hosts of the responsibility for shopping, preparing, serving, and cleaning up.
Although the host may be quite capable when it comes to preparing a family dinner,
producing a full spread of appetizers, entrées, salads, and desserts for a
roomful of people may be well beyond a reasonable assignment.
Other social settings where catering is appropriate include fund-raising
events, cocktail parties, and after-theater gatherings.
You have to know your way around your own kitchen and be able to work in a
client’s facility if needed. You’ll also need to be very well versed in the rules of
proper food handling, including the storage and transportation of raw ingredients,
the handling of cooked food, and the proper temperatures to protect prepared
dishes on the buffet line.
In most jurisdictions you’ll also have to obtain a license or otherwise work
closely with health departments.
If you will be providing food within hotels or convention halls, you may
need to work with some of their unionized employees. If you will be delivering
food to offices or other businesses, you will have to meet their professional
Caterers generally offer both preselected combinations of dishes and customized
menus to meet the requests of their clients. You must be able to adapt
your recipes to fit the number of guests at the event.
In some cases, the caterer is involved in the actual serving of the food. In
other instances, the caterer delivers the food—completely cooked or one or more
steps short of completion—to a serving crew provided by the client, a party planner,
or a meeting hall.
Know the Territory
Build a library of your specialties. Take photos and collect testimonials from satisfied
customers. For very large gatherings you may be called on to provide some
samples of your cooking for evaluation.
A vast collection of recipes and cooking techniques available is on the Internet,
as well as in newspapers and cookbooks.
Get to know area businesses, hotels, and convention centers. Read the social
pages of local newspapers to learn about major events held on an annual basis,
and make contact with the sponsors.
How to Get Started
Advertise in newspapers and shopping guides. Post flyers and ads on community
Offer to teach a course at local schools or colleges as a way to get some publicity
and perhaps some clients.
You’ll need a kitchen with large, commercial-grade preparation and cooking
equipment. Depending on local regulations, you may have to purchase and use
special equipment to measure temperature of raw and cooked food and to maintain
it within a safe range.
You’ll also need appropriate containers to transport finished food from your
kitchen to the client; depending on the formality of the event, the same containers
might also be used for serving.
You’ll need a vehicle to transport your prepared food to your client and pick
up any equipment you leave behind; when you first start your business, you may
be able to rent a van on an as-needed basis for jobs.
You’ll need to stock your kitchen with basic ingredients, spices, and flavorings.
You’ll also want a library of cookbooks and reference books.
Additional costs include advertising and promotion.
How Much to Charge
Most caterers have a standard selection of offerings, with prices based on the
number of guests at the event. The cost of a dish should take into account the
price of ingredients and the amount of time required to prepare it. Simple baked
or steamed lobster is relatively easy to prepare but expensive to purchase; a fancy
dessert may use some very basic ingredients but require a great deal of time and
attention in the kitchen.
If the client asks for dishes not on your standard list of offerings, you’ll need
to research the cost carefully.
Add charges for delivery and for the cost of containers that are not reusable.
If you will be working during the party itself to assist in serving and cleanup,
add an hourly charge for your time.
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