How to Cater Your First Event
You can cook, and everyone compliments on your skills and suggests you go pro, so you decide to take the plunge and become a caterer. But, despite all your abilities and drive, you still have to know how to cater an event. Do not kid yourself, catering is hard, hot work, but the immediate feedback it provides is exceptionally satisfying. Before committing yourself to a client and contract, here are some must knows.
What to charge for catering
Even when catering for friends and family, you should be reimbursed for your time, effort, and purchases you make for the event. Setting the fee for your time and effort is subjective and depends on what you feel is fair. However, you must charge for the food you will purchase. If just starting out, you may not have the contacts to purchase from a wholesaler, so you should charge the retail price (while considering the time you will spend shopping).
What catering services will you offer
This is where operating expenses can climb. If you plan on being a full-service caterer, you will need to begin accumulating plates, cutlery, linens, serving dishes, and other dining equipment. In the short-run you can rent these, but over time you may find it more profitable to purchase them. If you rent, include it in your fee. Another option is to have your client provide these basics.
Will you provide sit down service, or a buffet? When starting out, offering a buffet line is easier and less expensive for both you and your client. However, you will have to have chafing dishes and steam trays for serving, as well as serving utensils.
Catering to a client
When learning how to cater, stick to menu offerings that can be easily prepared and created in quantity, look pretty and will retain their visual appeal while they sit out, and will not lose their flavor if they sit in a steam tray. In addition, select recipes that require minimal prep time until you are able to increase your staff. Food preparation is time consuming.
When creating a contract for services, be clear as to who sets up and breaks down the site. You will be responsible for all equipment you bring, but do not get roped into helping clean up messes you did not create.
In the days leading up to your first event, create tasteful placards to set along the serving area that announce who you are. You do not have to include contact details. You should also carry a few business cards with you for those guests who are pleased with your offerings and want to hire you for their event.
Catering involves understanding how to cater. If you have a passion, a genuine passion, for cooking being a caterer is an excellent career. A good caterer can be highly successful, even with a limited budget and facilities.