Catering is an interesting branch of the culinary professional tree. It’s a job that many people place a lot of importance on. Having the ability and skill to be able to properly and tastefully prepare meals is used every day.
What do caterers do exactly? First and foremost, they must know how to cook, plate, and safely transport and store food. In addition, they must have good business and communication skills. How is catering different from the vast majority of other work that is done by chefs and cooks in kitchens across the world?
Here are just a few things that set caterers apart from their other culinary brethren.
Often, before you go to a wedding, you will receive an RSVP card. That card will ask if you will be attending, if you’ll be bringing a partner (the ‘plus one’), and in many instances, it will ask what you would like for your entrée at the reception.
Generally, your entrée choice is limited to very vague terms such as ‘fish,’ ‘chicken,’ ‘beef,’ and ‘vegetarian.’
As a general rule, a caterer is not going to be providing the same service that you would get at a restaurant. They will not make substitutions to your prime rib, they will not specially prepare your meal, and generally, outside of serious allergies or medical needs, they are not going to deviate from the meal plan as it was presented to those who put together the event.
However, the main meal at a reception or event is not all that a caterer will put together. They will usually be responsible for putting a number of snacks together, hor d’oeuvres that will keep the guests from becoming ravenous before the meal is ready for serving and consumption.
Some caterers are lucky enough to have the ability to cook from their own kitchens and to transport their food to whatever venue they’re needed at. These people often invest in methods of transporting food that will also maintain the temperature or moisture of the food meant for consumption.
For everyone else working in catering, though, every new venue means a new kitchen, and a new kitchen setup. Some kitchens are better equipped than others, of course, and this means that every day features new challenges for a catering chef.
Imagine you go into a local steakhouse to get a 20 ounce prime rib. You don’t want the asparagus that comes with it, though, so you ask if they will make a substitution. Maybe you don’t like the horseradish sauce either, so you ask if they will replace it with some sort of garlic butter.
Most restaurants will do that. For a caterer, however, that kind of weird request during the planning stages of a large meal is commonplace.
Maybe the bride at a wedding wants the steak made in a completely unusual way, such as sous vide. Perhaps the groom has a family history of Celiac disease, and to avoid any possible gastrointestinal issues, the family requests that there be no flour in anything at the wedding.
These are the kinds of weekly challenges that a caterer will face.
One of the most impressive things about the average kitchen of your local restaurant is how many meals they will cook in a night. If they make a mistake, perhaps they don’t watch the stove or the oven carefully, they may ruin one meal, but that’s a fairly minor thing.
A caterer, though, can make scores of meals at once. This means that they must make them correctly, or risk ruining multiple dishes all at once.
What caterers do with their work day is to provide meals to many people at once. It’s a wondrous process, and done correctly, it can help to ensure that special events are memorable and enjoyable.
Ready to Explore a Career in Catering?
For those looking to pursue a career in catering, a bit of education is always a good investment. Classes like those available through Stratford Career Institute can help individuals gain a thorough understanding of what is involved in a career as a caterer.
Enroll in Stratford’s Cooking and Catering class today!
Explore a Career in Catering
Begin your career by learning about catering. Enroll in our online course today!