wikiHow to Become a Caterer

Three Parts:Preparing for the JobGetting the JobKeeping the Job

Catering is a challenging and demanding job, one that requires you to be an expert chef, a great sales person, and a staff motivator. You need to be calm under pressure, and be able to live in a world where every day is different.

Part 1
Preparing for the Job

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    Decide where you want to work. There are different types of catering, including working for a restaurant and working from home. Be sure to read the requirements for your chosen place, as many cities will require you to have taken some food safety courses.
    • If you want to start your own business, you will most likely need a physical shop as well. This means you will have to follow health and building codes. You will also need a small business license.[1]
    • If you want to run an at-home catering service, you will need two kitchens: your home kitchen and your work kitchen. You will also need a food service operating license.[2] Lastly, you will need to be able to manage waiters, drivers, cleaners, and so forth.
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    Be able to handle pressure and sudden issues. You will have to know how to deal with staff not showing up, picky and rude clients, and food getting burnt or ruined. You will need a few backup plans at all times, so being creative and knowing how to improvise is a must. If you do not handle stressful situations like these well, your business will falter.
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    Know that catering is often more than just preparing food. Many caterers also have to take part in coming up with the decorations, especially for themed parties. For this reason, taking a few business and marketing classes might be a good idea.
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    Get a food service operating license or permit. Most states and countries will require caterers to have some sort of license, which will allow them to work legally. The license you get will depend on where you live, and what sort of catering job you want.

Part 2
Getting the Job

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    Get practice with people you know. If you want to start a catering business, you can build a client base by catering for your family, friends, and neighbors. Be sure to ask them to give you good, but honest, feedback about your performance. Also, ask them to keep some of your business cards so that they can give them away to potential clients.
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    Consider an apprenticeship or internship. This will allow you to train and perfect your skills while getting the qualifications you need. Many internships are unpaid, but they give you valuable experience and references. Some internships might also end with a job offer.
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    Know that you may need to open up a restaurant or bakery. Not all food can be made at the event, and certain items, such as cakes and pastries, need to be prepared beforehand. A restaurant or bakery will allow you to do this. It will also help you get more customers. Anyone who eats at your restaurant may decide to use your catering service at his or her next event.
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    Think about partnering with a restaurant. You won't get to choose your menu; you will have to use the restaurant's food instead. You won't be your own boss, but you also won't have to run an entire business. Lastly, you won't need to cook as much since the food will be provided by the restaurant. If you enjoy doing events but the idea of making food stresses you, this may work for you.

Part 3
Keeping the Job

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    Always have good customer service. Treat everyone equally and always be polite, even if they are rude to you. Greet your clients and guests with a friendly smile. An unfriendly attitude may lose you clients, even if your food is perfect.
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    Use social media. Create an account on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pintrest and post photos of your dishes. Post a few photos of your business at various events so that your clients can see how you do things like decorations.
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    Create a website. Post your menu, prices, and lots of clear photos. The website should be neat and well organized. Be sure to include your email and phone number. The more ways people have of reaching you, the better.
    • Try adding pictures of your business at events. This will show people how popular you are.
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    Think about using business cards. They may seem old-fashioned, but they are small and easy to carry. The next time you cater an event, bring a stack of business cards with you. One of the guests might just need a caterer at his or her next event!
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    Always be on time and well-prepared. If you are late, your client will lose faith in you and might leave a bad review of your business. Also, make sure that you have everything you need before going to the event. This will prevent any last minute runs to the store and keep things running smoothly.
    • If you are running late, be sure to call your client and let them know. Apologize and offer a discount. Even if it is not your fault, the thoughtful offer will display good customer service. It may also make your client feel better.
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    Don't be afraid to add new things to your menu. Just don't take away anything that is popular and well-liked. This way, if the new dish does not work out, people will have something familiar and well-recommended to fall back on.
    • Consider doing seasonal specials. Keep a year-round menu, but include a few items that are only available during the Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer.


  • NOTE: In the USA and in many other places, you need to cook in a licensed kitchen. That means finding a local hall which has been licensed. In the UK and elsewhere, you need to register with the local council or town hall, but the restrictions are less stringent. Check with local laws.

Sources and Citations

  1. National Federation of Independent Business, How to Start a Catering Business
  2. Food Service Warehouse, How to Start a Home Catering Business

Article Info

Categories: Hospitality