As a Chef, you will most certainly run into all kinds of different debacles when it comes to your kitchen. This is especially true if you are a catering chef that is working in different kitchens on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. In 2012 I was working a party for this extremely wealthy individual in South Florida. They had a catering kitchen in the downstairs of their home and it was an absolute delight to work in. There was plenty of room for me and my two helpers, and everything was top of the line. There were a few problems with the kitchen that were not brought to light until a little later in the evening.
We were cooking for around 100 individuals and a pasta dish was on the menu. About half way into the evening I was summoned upstairs by the owner for something he wanted to discuss. Right before I was summoned I turned on a faucet to fill a large pot in a deep commercial sink, and guess what, I forgot to turn the water off before I went upstairs. This sounds like it would be no big deal because it’s in a sink, right? Wrong! All I can say is I’m really glad I know someone that has a water damage restoration business because the bottom of the pot just so happened to be the perfect shape, and with all of the weight of the water the pot closed off the water’s access to the drain. So, after about 20 minutes of schmoozing with the owner and his friends in my cool chef outfit and talking about how amazing my appetizers were I got back down to the kitchen. Wouldn’t you know it there was about 3-4 inches of standing water on the floor and it was rising! Turns out, the sink wasn’t very thick metal because it had flexed just enough to allow the pot to cut off the drain.
So I met this lovely couple early on in my business and they were planning a wedding on Pensacola Beach. This was my first wedding with my new catering business so I was a nervous wreck, but they had a pretty easy idea overall. They wanted something incredible and simple at the same time. I was more than happy to oblige! The wedding itself was going to be on the beach and the reception at a beautiful home right on the beach. The plan was originally something simple, some type of chicken, fish, pork, and a vegetarian meal, but as we started doing the tasting it was becoming more and more apparent that they did want something a little more incredible than I had done before. The pressure was on, and I was ready to meet the challenge!
This was early on in the business, so it was one of my first catering jobs and I was a little nervous because I wanted to make sure their big day was very special. All of the sudden I realized through a conversation that they were expecting me to supply china and tablecloths for a 100 person dinner, not disposable plates like I normally do! Needless to say, I did not have the china and table cloths needed for a party of that size. Prior to this I specialized in coffee and desert bars, so I got all of my plates from here. Continue reading “Beach House Event Catering: The China Debacle”
If you are a lover of the kitchen and are thinking about making a little extra money on the side, starting a catering business may be a great venture for you. You don’t always have to start with a huge company catering to hundreds of people at a time, although that would be a great way to get going! I started cooking for 20-50 person parties on the side, mostly a weekend gig, but that blossomed into a full time, fully staffed successful business. It was a great experience and I definitely recommend giving it a shot if you have a love for the art of food. Owning your own business is the best, even if it’s a pool cleaning company!
Even if cooking for 20-50 people sounds intimidating you could always start out offering a coffee and dessert bar. Many people take advantage of this for evening dinner parties. This can be especially successful in larger cities, or with any corporate event. Click here to see some great catering menu ideas.
The biggest hurdle you will find in the beginning is simply attracting clients. Word of mouth is always the cheapest and easiest way to start off so I highly recommend getting some great business cards made as soon as possible. Try to find a niche that the larger competition has overlooked, like the coffee and desert parties, or engagement/bachelore(ette) parties. Be sure to tell your extensive network of friends and family, and ask them to actively promote your services. You can even offer a commision to give them a little incentive, just make sure that you have the commsion price included in your profit margins. Then, reach out to local business owners and see if they will let you leave a stack of your cards at their checkout counters or somewhere their clients may be able to see your business. You can even partner with restaurants that don’t offer the service. First see if they will promote your services for free, and if not, give them a commission of the profit. It’s hard to say no to passive income like that. Once you have exhausted all of these options and you’re ready to start growing you can have a website made and even just pay for leads. There are a couple of incredible companies that can help with this, www.pbseopros.com is my favorite.
The first step you will need to take towards your new venture is to figure out what you will be offerening, and what equipment you will need to offer these things. I’m a very big proponent of a lean startup, so I would wait to purchase any big items, or anything in bulk until you have your first customer and you know what they want/need. As long as you know where to purchase or rent the items and a timeframe for the delivery you will be fine. It can’t hurt to have a backup either, even if it’s a little more expensive. Think of it as paying a little more for a product to have little less risk involved. Continue reading “Step 1: Starting a Catering Business”
Hey there foodies! My name is Chef Gus and I have a catering business that I’m excited to share with the world. I am really happy that you are here, and hope you enjoy the ride. If you have any questions for me please take a look at the Contact page and give me a shout!