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10 Things that make up a good caterer

Like many careers, catering takes a combination of training, hard work, and carefully honed skills to
succeed. While there is much in common with being a chef, caterers face many additional challenges.
Caterers have to handle such business matters as accounting, marketing and customer relations, in
addition to the quality of the food.

Online directories like Culinary Training feature a variety of courses that are specifically tailored for
people entering this highly competitive field. Finding a way to stand out, and integrate sound business
savvy with inspired culinary vision, is a big part of the challenge. But thereafter, a successful catering
career is ahead.

What Makes a Good Caterer?

1. Cooking

At its most basic level, catering is all about food. No matter how beautifully the venue is decorated or
how carefully the place settings are arranged, clients won't return if the food is awful. You also need
enough cooking experience to make recipe substitutions, plan menus, and safely prepare, reheat and
transport large amounts of food.

2. Food safety

A good caterer (and their staff) should be aware of and comply with the most-up-to-date food safety
laws in their particular state. The Food and Drug Administration is in charge of food safety regulations
throughout nation, and FoodSafety.gov allows you to find your state agency. Further training in this field
is offered many culinary institutes and local colleges.

3. Customer Service

Caterers work with clients to design a menu. Being courteous, tactful, and diplomatic is necessary, as
you may need to persuade a client to substitute an ingredient or change a dish. Good communication
and people skills are also vital to building up a client repertoire and catering a successful event. A
satisfied customer is the best recommendation, and word-of-mouth remains some of the most effective
advertising out there.

4. Flexibility & Creativity

Recipes may need to be adjusted to cope with food allergies, and cooking methods may have to be
altered to conform to religious dietary requirements or personal preferences. An imaginative and
adaptable person will be able to triumph in these situations, and instill confidence in their clients in the
process.

5. Leadership
A caterer has to manage a staff of cooks, servers, cleaners, and dishwashers, while ensuring their team
is aware of their schedules, place settings, serving customs, and food safety regulations. It may also be
necessary to provide direction and advice to customers.

6. Motivation

Caterers must be enthusiastic and proactive, to promote themselves and bring in business. During the
busiest times of year, a caterer may work long hours, seven days a week, which demands stamina. It's
also important for caterers to motivate one's employees (and stay motivated themselves) in moments
when business is slow.

7. Financial planning

Fluctuating work is part of the job. The often busy periods, such as weekends and holidays, must be
balanced with the times of year when business is only trickling in. Being able to financially plan and
weather the slowdowns is particularly important to a caterer.

8. Business Management

More than just cooking, a catering service has to be a profitable business. The administrative tasks in
catering deal with pricing services, accounting, taxes, managing employees, ordering food, and
organizing schedules and budgets.

9. Marketing

Your food may be delicious, but the phone won't ring unless people know about you. Getting your
business noticed is important and in catering, a good network of contacts is essential. You'll have to
liaise with florists, venue organizers, event planners and a variety of other services that it takes to pull of
a large event, but this also acts as your network of referrals.

10. Attention to detail

A caterer may also be in charge of some décor, table arrangements and food presentation. Setting up,
running and clearing the dining room all fall under the task of a caterer. Here's where you can impress
your client and all of their guests - who are all potential clients themselves.

Taking time to study the field of catering and learn about its particular challenges and demands can
make all the difference between failure and success. If you love cooking, interacting with people, and
have a flair for parties, a career as a caterer may be a good choice for you.