How do I begin a career as a caterer?

Like many careers in the food industry, being a caterer is hard work, however, if you would like to be your own boss, a catering business may be for you. Caterers typically work for clients that wish to plan any number of events such as, birthday or engagement parties, wedding receptions and corporate functions, just to name a few. They need to have a close working relationship with their customers to determine what type of food is to be prepared, how much is needed, how it should be presented and the estimated cost of your services.

Although a formal education is not required, if you work for a catering company, an online Bachelor’s degree from a Culinary Arts or a Hospitality Management program can set you apart from the competition. If you choose to run your own business, at the very least, a professional certification is advisable to demonstrate your dedication and expertise in your field.

If you choose to, attending an online Bachelor’s of Culinary Arts degree program will teach you the foundations of food preparation, cooking techniques, nutrition, baking and pastry techniques, specialty cuisine, along with, the business aspects of owning your own company such as, in management, accounting and marketing.

Most states require caterers to have a food safety certification. These courses are often offered by local health departments or community colleges. The classes focus on proper food storage, sanitation and pest control, along with, the prevention of food-borne illnesses.

In addition, most states also require a caterer to be licensed if food preparation will be done in your personal kitchen. Your kitchen must be inspected for health and safety purposes and if you are planning to serve alcohol, you may be required to obtain a liquor license, as well.

If you would like some impressive credentials on your business card, it is a great idea to obtain certification provided by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) that emphasizes your capabilities as a caterer. Your certification exam will test your knowledge in accounting, marketing, the use of contracts and food preparation.

An integral part of building a catering business involves getting your name out there and networking. Typically, word of mouth is the best way to gain new clients, however, your online Bachelor’s of Culinary Arts degree program will help you learn how to effectively market your services. You will want to forge lasting relationships with wedding planners and event planners in your area to acquire new clients. A caterer must find a way to stand out in the crowd by being creative and personable.

Continued education is important for a caterer to remain current in today’s techniques and trends. You should be an avid reader of magazines and online articles and blogs regarding food and beverage catering in the culinary industry. Membership in the American Culinary Federation (ACF) will help you to stay up-to-date on continuing education opportunities.

Do you have what it takes to be a caterer? A good caterer must work well with others, communicate well, be well-organized and be able to work under pressure to meet deadlines. You must pay attention to detail and be courteous, and sometimes diplomatic, if need be.  Perhaps most importantly, you must be an exceptional cook.

If you would like to learn more about this field, please see our choices for the America’s Top Online Culinary Schools.