Do your family and friends rave about your cooking? Has the idea of trying to make a profit off of your culinary skills crossed your mind? If you thoroughly enjoy being in the kitchen, can handle stress and aren’t averse to deadlines, you might do well in starting a catering business. It won’t be easy, but if you love what you do, it will be thoroughly rewarding.
How to Start a Catering Business
Get a Job
Catering can be a stressful job, particularly when you are relying on a team to pull together to get the job done on time. If you have never worked for a caterer, before you start your own business, try working for someone else. Take up a part-time gig at a local caterer and pay close attention to how your boss runs her business. Cooking is the easy part. Reducing food waste, controlling inventory, meeting suppliers and advertising are where you’ll put the majority of your efforts. Keep an eye for how your boss minimizes waste, meets deadlines and delegates. Then, when you start your own catering business, you can adjust your approach to suit your needs.
Visit your health authority’s website to get information on how to get a catering license to start your business. Generally, you will need to prove to an inspector that you are knowledgeable on safe food preparation and employee cleanliness, and prove that your place of business meets your county’s standards. Since it isn’t likely that you can get your own kitchen licensed, you’ll need to find a licensed kitchen to rent. Contact churches, halls, bakeries or lodges about renting their kitchen. You may also need to provide proof of liability insurance and a business registration.
Caterers service a variety of clientele, from family reunions to formal weddings and corporate events. Poll random people, family and friends about preferred foods for your area and then design a menu for your catering business. Your food doesn’t have to be incredibly unique; flavor, quality, presentation, cost and consistency are what guarantee repeat business. If you’re stumped on menu ideas or just looking for fresh ideas, enrolling in a cooking course at a local culinary institute may be a worthwhile investment.
What You’ll Need
In addition to a commercial vehicle, you’ll need to purchase or rent catering supplies. While a licensed kitchen should have all of the equipment you will need, you may need to purchase serving equipment, plate covers, chafing dishes, silverware, cake stands and tablecloths, if you can’t rent. Make business cards, invoices and receipts for free (or inexpensively) online or with Microsoft Word.