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What Is a Caterer and How to Become One


What Are Caterers?

A caterer manages the food preparation and presentation for events in people’s homes or at other facilities. They are often in charge of the entire operation from the menu to the plating. Some specialize in particular sectors, ranging from the types of events to certain food offerings. Excellent communication skills are essential for planning with clients. Some caterers start their own businesses and freelance; others work in a partnership with a restaurant. Hours vary but often include nights, weekends, and holidays. Self-employed caterers must have an accounting system in place to manage their business.

How to Become a Caterer

A high school diploma is a minimum requirement for becoming a caterer. Most states and many cities require caterers to get a license. Some pursue a postsecondary degree at an American Culinary Federation (ACF) accredited school or other vocational schools. The institution also offers certification in a variety of positions such as Certified Culinarian. Knowledge of food sanitation and proper handling is crucial. Sole proprietors need a commercial kitchen in which to work. Many begin their career with an internship to gain the experience necessary to run their operation.

How to Be a Good Caterer

A good caterer has outstanding people skills to ensure an enjoyable experience for their clients. Detail-oriented individuals with excellent time management abilities succeed in this job. Other duties include adherence to all state and local health codes and regulations to run their business legally. A caterer often acts as a marketer too, using tools such as social media to build their brand and establish clients. Self-employed individuals need a website which requires some computer knowledge to maintain. Caterers must stay current with food trends to make their business attractive to potential clients.

What Do Caterers Wear?

A caterer needs to have a professional appearance, especially for those individuals that work directly with people. Staff often wear the same uniform as part of the branding for the business. Kitchen workers wear clothes that are comfortable since the work involves standing for long hours. Commercial restaurant supply warehouses are a good source for kitchen and customer-facing apparel. It’s essential to give careful thought to the selection of these items because it is an integral part of the business’s image.

Caterer Job Description Sample

With this Caterer job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Caterer role.

Job Summary

We are looking for an energetic and customer-focused Caterer to join our team. In this role, you will work closely with other members of the catering team to provide high-quality catering services for our clients at special events such as weddings, functions, meetings, and large gatherings. You will discuss menu options with the client, making sure to note any special accommodations they need. On the day of the event, you will help set up and break down equipment, prepare and serve food and beverages, and make sure the food service runs smoothly.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Plan event menus, incorporating client requests and dietary needs
  • Set up tables, chairs, linens, and equipment at the venue
  • Load and unload catering vehicles with food, supplies, and equipment for events in all weather conditions
  • Prepare and serve food and drinks; bus tables as needed
  • Attend to guests' needs for the duration of the event
  • Breakdown and clean equipment following the event; ensure that the venue is left clean and tidy

Requirements and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Prior experience in catering or food service a plus
  • Current food handler’s certification
  • Excellent food handling and preparation skills
  • Able to stand and lift for extended periods
  • Good communication skills