Caterer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Caterer, of Catering Chef, is in charge of preparing, delivering and serving bulk meal orders to clients based on their menu selection and event type. Their duties include developing menus and service packages, coordinating meal delivery, managing event schedules and food preparation timelines, setting up equipment to serve food and preserve its temperature, shopping for ingredients, cooking food and advertising their business to bring in new clients.

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Caterer duties and responsibilities

Caterers are responsible for cooking and serving meals at many different kinds of events. Their typical duties include:

  • Preparing and storing food safety before and during events
  • Setting up all tables and food service areas with chairs, linens and dishes
  • Serving food to guests at events
  • Cleaning up and tearing down the dining area by removing all tableware, linens, garbage and furniture
  • Creating menus according to a client’s preferences and dietary needs
  • Visiting sites before events to assess the kitchen facilities and make necessary plans
  • Ordering any necessary supplies for events
  • Settling on prices and creating contracts for clients
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What does a Caterer do?

Caterers can be self-employed at their own catering business or work as a part of a larger restaurant or catering company to provide food service to clients for meetings, conferences, parties, weddings, sports events and other gatherings. They meet with clients to discuss their needs and expectations, including determining how many courses they want, whether they want buffet-style meals or table service, what their budget will be and how long the Caterer should expect to work at each event. Their job is to coordinate client information and prepare food either independently or with a team of assistants.

Caterer skills and qualifications

Caterers should have strong cooking and food production skills in order to cater an event effectively. Other skills they need to handle their job duties include:

  • Advanced customer service skills
  • Strong leadership and supervisory skills
  • Knowledge of dietary restrictions and the ability to come up with menus accordingly
  • Understanding of safe food handling policies and procedures
  • Excellent communication skills for conversing with clients, guests and employees
  • Business acumen and negotiation skills
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  • Time management and organizational skills

Caterer salary expectations

A Caterer makes an average of $13.75 per hour. This compensation may vary depending on a candidate’s education, experience and geographical location.

Caterer education and training requirements

Usually, no formal education is required to become a Caterer. Most employers will hire candidates with a high school diploma and training in the food industry. Some organizations prefer candidates who have pursued culinary arts degrees and certificate programs, such as those that are available at the community college level and in vocational schools. Caterers should have a catering license and any other permits necessary to serve food and alcohol to the public, and they can achieve voluntary certification as a Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE) through the National Association of Catering Executives.

Caterer experience requirements

Employers typically look for candidates with a few years of experience working in restaurants or as a Caterer. Many Caterers gain experience by completing an internship or an apprenticeship, and some expand upon their cooking skills by working in restaurants in the front or back of the house. In general, employers should look for applicants with strong food preparation and customer service skills. Experience supervising others is also a plus.

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Frequently asked questions about Caterers


What should you look for on a Caterer resume?

Someone with catering experience can list it on a resume by describing their experience managing a staff, handling commercial kitchen equipment, creating delicious menu items and providing excellent customer service to clients during important moments. A catering resume should be service-oriented and provide examples of problem-solving due to the many different factors that need to be coordinated to successfully cater an event. 


What is the difference between a Caterer and a Catering Assistant?

Caterers oversee the general catering operations at a company while Catering Assistants are responsible for taking care of smaller tasks. Catering Assistants often work with ingredient preparation cleaning, chopping, measuring and organizing ingredients in the appropriate amounts so they can be put together efficiently before an event. They help communicate with clients, set up and break down serving stations, tables and other equipment at a venue, and may fill in as a Cook or a Server when necessary. Catering Assistants may be required to run errands for the Caterer like shopping for last-minute ingredients.


What qualities make a good Caterer?

Because they are in charge of preparing different types of meals on a tight deadline, a good Caterer thrives when they are busy multitasking and managing a range of responsibilities at once. They are friendly and positive, providing excellent hospitality for all of their clients and event guests. Good Caterers are vocal, communicative and are often natural leaders. Caterers work long hours doing intense physical labor in the kitchen and setting up events, so they also need to be self-motivated and have excellent stamina to keep up with the pace of their work.


What are the different types of Caterers?

The main types of Caterers are Wedding Caterers, Corporate Caterers, Concession Caterers and Food Truck Caterers. Caterers can offer multiple types of event packages or focus on a single specialization depending on their resources and interests. Caterers often focus on a specific type of cuisine within their specialty. For example, some Corporate Caterers exclusively prepare simple deli meals for office box lunches, while other Corporate Caterers provide upscale Italian dining options for important events and executive luncheons.

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