What is a Food Caterer?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2018
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A food caterer supplies food and drink for events such as weddings or business functions. He or she typically owns or works for a catering service. Being able to supply delicious food on time for a large number of people is an important part of a food caterer's job.

Food caterers may require a cooking school diploma to be hired by a specific catering company. Employees who don't cook, but rather transport the food to client events, usually don't require any formal certification. Food safety certificates may be needed for assistant cooks who chop or mix foods for the catering company's chef. Many countries require that food handlers attend safety classes to learn about storing, preparing and cooking foods appropriately in order to avoid causing food poisoning.

Depending on the country, a government food inspector could visit the catering service's kitchen and conduct an inspection to ensure safety regulations are met. These same inspectors usually also investigate restaurant kitchens. The main difference between a restaurant and a catering company is that customers come into restaurants to eat, while a food caterer provides food for each customer's home, business or party location. Catering is also more event focused, as meals for large parties of people are typically produced at once but planned ahead of time. Most restaurants, on the other hand, prepare dozens of separate meals as they are ordered from a menu by individuals and small groups.


Working for or owning a catering business that maintains high safety and product quality standards at all times should be the main workplace objective of a professional food caterer. Of course, the food must also taste excellent or caterers are unlikely to stay in business. Many food caterers have a passion for preparing a variety of foods from different world cuisines. They usually specialize in certain dishes that prove popular with their customers.

A food caterer must be not only an expert in providing foods to large crowds, but also possess good organizational and project management skills. A lot of planning and thought has to go into choosing catering equipment; the temperatures of food must be properly kept not only for safety reasons but also for serving quality items. Cold French onion soup or melted ice cream just aren't acceptable when people pay food caterers to serve appealing, delicious foods to their guests.

The salary or profit a food caterer makes varies widely. When quoting prices to clients, food caterers must consider not only the cost of the foods and beverages they'll provide, but also the preparation time they'll need on each project. The number of catering staff each event, such as a wedding or business dinner, will take will also affect the quoted price and profit margin of food caterers.



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