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How do I Become a Food Caterer?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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Becoming a food caterer requires a number of different skills. First, a person typically needs some talent for cooking, preparing, and serving foods that look and taste good. Next, a person in this field also needs business and organizational skills to help ensure the success of his catering business. In many places, food caterers also have to seek licensing and have a jurisdiction-approved place from which to offer their catering services.

A person who wants to become a food caterer typically needs to know how to not only prepare tasty food, but also serve it in an attractive manner. An individual who starts this business needs experience preparing a wide variety of foods and the ability to select or suggest menus for various types of events. For example, he typically needs to know how to prepare fun finger foods, basic and elegant meals, and complex dishes. Knowing how to prepare at least some ethnic meals may give a new food caterer a wider target market. An aspiring food caterer may be a self-taught cook or take cooking classes.

In addition to cooking skills, a person who wants to become a food caterer typically needs business and organizational skills. Since catering is a business, a person who opts for this career usually needs to know how to get a business started and manage it in a manner that maximizes profitability. He’ll need accounting skills and the ability to create and stick to a budget as well as planning, scheduling, and marketing skills. Often, a person who wants to become a food caterer may read books about starting a business and hone his business skills as he gains catering experience. Others, however, may find it helpful to take business courses or even seek a degree in business.

Organizational skills are also important for a person who wants to become a food caterer. A person in this line of business may have to schedule events, create menus, make filing systems, and keep careful records. He may also have to keep an inventory of supplies and equipment. Good organizational skills are required for packaging and transporting foods, keeping a catering kitchen in functional order, and even deciding where to position employees for preparing, cooking, and serving food.

Many jurisdictions require food caterers to obtain licensing. Licensing requirements vary from place to place, but may include having a kitchen separate from one’s personal kitchen, having certain sanitation supplies, and being knowledgeable about safe food preparation and storage. In some places, an aspiring food caterer’s kitchen has to be inspected before he can be licensed.

Once a person is ready to begin his career as a food caterer, he’ll have to find clients that need his services. He may advertise his services in local phone directories as well as in newspapers and magazines. For example, a food caterer may secure new clients by advertising in a wedding magazine. He may also distribute fliers and business cards, asking his friends and family members for referrals. Some new food caterers may also find clients by posting websites and press releases. Even cold calling may help.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
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Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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