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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