A caterer works with clients to deliver food to an outside location, generally for a special event. This endeavor entails finalizing the planned menu with the client, preparing and storing the food for transportation and delivering the food to the specified location per the client’s instructions.
If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a caterer, then the idea of supplying the food for weddings, birthday parties or major sporting events is a pleasure. There’s more to this career than being handy in the kitchen, however, so before you start advertising, learn the basics of what it takes to be a caterer.
A caterer is both a salesperson and a chef. Food is one of the crucial aspects of any event, so caterers must convince clients that they can provide the best menu for the client’s budget. They must be able to deliver on these promises, preparing and delivering food to the client’s specifications, working odd hours and weekends to accommodate the dates of special events. Caterers must be able to compromise with clients regarding menu options and pricing.
Most caterers begin their careers in a restaurant, where they can practice skills learned in the pressure-filled atmosphere of culinary school. Some hotels and resorts have a special catering staff that prepares food solely for private events. Starting a career in the kitchen provides opportunities for advancement and crucial on-the-job training. Many caterers choose to open their own businesses, shouldering entrepreneurial risks and rewards for independent success.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2006, caterers earned $34,370 on average. As this salary depends heavily on the location and type of catering offered, chefs and caterers can expect to earn between $20,160 and $60,730.
Not all caterers can be classified within this chef-caterer rubric, however. Caterers who supply food for large-scale events can easily command a sizable commission. With the right combination of salesmanship and a good reputation, a successful caterer can achieve a calendar full of major catering events.