Catering

Catering Tea Parties

April 17th, 2014

I have been catering small tea parties in my hometown for ten years. My husband and I bought a nice cottage after we retired and it has several nice features, the best of which is a gourmet kitchen. I have always loved cooking and entertaining for others and decided to try to make a little money doing it after retirement.

I developed a menu with a lot of very nice offerings. I like to offer items that sound as appealing as I know they will look when they are served. Delicious food has to look beautiful to be good for catering. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are good for decoration and for eating.

A big factor in catering is planning how much of your kitchen is going to be in use at a time. I finally arrived at the conclusion that I wanted to focus my catering plan on tea parties because I could work on the preparatory work for a couple of days before the event. I needed to find ways to make my catering successful and that was one of them.

My husband’s only involvement in my catering business is taste testing new ideas and driving me to wherever I need to be to set up. He was not interested in working with me cooking and preparing food. He is an excellent cook, but catering didn’t sound the least bit fun to him.

I bring my own china when I am catering a tea party. I have been amassing a large collection of china for my business. I have broken a few pieces over the years, but not many. The only adornment that I recommend to my clients is to set out fresh flowers.

My favorite catering jobs are for groups of women. I prefer that there are no children at the tea parties, but sometimes there are. Most of the food that I serve is not kid friendly. I bring tea, of course, scones, jam, finger sandwiches and small desserts. I have gotten a lot of compliments on my scones over the years.

I have a dislike for coffee. I’m not sure where it originally came from, but I just prefer tea. I’ve been asked several times if I will provide a coffee service when I am catering. I refuse to offer coffee service. I don’t even like the smell of coffee and there is absolutely no room at a tea party for coffee.

I have several favorite teas for catering. Earl Grey is a standard, but I have lots of requests for Brodies Famous Edinburgh which is a blend of Assam and Ceylon teas. My personal favorite is Lyons Red Label because it is so rich and full flavored. The flavor of the Lyons Red Label is so consistent that it makes it a perfect choice for catering.

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Good And Bad Catering Jobs

August 23rd, 2013

Good catering jobs are easy to come by after you’ve been in the business successfully for a couple of years. It is harder to find catering jobs if you screw one up. I have heard that if you make someone happy they might tell a friend, but if you make them unhappy, they will tell ten friends. I have found this to be very true.

I consider good catering jobs to be the ones where the client has suggestions about what they really want. I don’t like to be left guessing when I am planning an important event. I also consider catering jobs to be good if I was paid promptly. First and foremost, this is my business and I am trying to make money.

Bad catering jobs are the ones where the client gives us the bare minimum time to set up for the event and pays us at the last possible moment. I also dislike criticism for the menu if I was not the one that chose the food. I don’t like to hear complaints about the food, but I listen very carefully to comments.

I have had catering jobs ranging from a big fancy wedding all the way to a pool party for a local radio station’s DJs on the Fourth of July. I like when I am able to have fun with a theme. It seems like less and less parties have themes anymore and you almost never see costume parties anymore. I miss those kinds of parties.

The best catering jobs for me involve afternoon teas and dessert parties. Those are my favorites. For some reason, they seem less stressful to me than a catered sit-down affair. There is usually more work involved in a tea or dessert party, but I guess I enjoy it more. I have gotten a lot of referrals for tea parties.

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Catering Kitchen Equipment For My New Business

July 23rd, 2013

I wanted to buy a catering business from a local woman that was retiring. I inspected her facility and decided that her catering kitchen equipment was woefully inadequate for my needs. She told me that she had just never kept up with kitchen advancements over the years and she supposed that maybe she should have.

I knew that buying her business was a bad idea after I saw the catering kitchen equipment. I finally decided to buy only her name and logo. She gave me her recipes, but I doubt that I will use any of them unless one of her old clients insists that I do. She was nice and she had a large and loyal following in a market that is hard to break into. I was worried for awhile that she would not accept my offer because I had offended her by not wanting any of her catering kitchen equipment.

I decided that I would move into one of the newer storefronts in town to run my business. I had signage made and hung above the door. I also order some really high tech catering kitchen equipment online. Most of the companies I dealt with gave me free shipping because I ordered the top product.

I started getting nervous when the catering kitchen equipment deliveries were delayed by bad weather in a neighboring city. I had two clients booked for the first weekend I was going to be open. I think that I am going to get a lot of mileage out of the reputation the previous owner built for this name. I hope to really impress people on my own and win over even more customers.

The catering kitchen equipment finally arrived and I was more than ready for my first two jobs. The wedding season rolled around and I was booked for seven straight weekends for six events each weekend. I had to hire a crew. I had a good business plan and it paid off for me. I love this line of work.

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Dinner Buffet Catering Menu

June 23rd, 2013

I have a catering menu for dinner buffets that really works out well for my business. My clients are all really happy with the amount of choice they have in the overall menu. We are pretty flexible, but we do have some guidelines. Extras can always be added. We highly recommend adding to the standard dinner buffet catering menu with a fabulous catered dessert.

Our buffet dinner catering menu include a choice of salad, two side accompaniments and any one of our house breads and butter The main course range from simple and satisfying to very upscale and gourmet. If one entrée is chosen, we price the meals at $20 to $30 per person. If two entrees are chosen, we price from $25 to $35 per person.

We have nine different salads to choose from on our buffet dinner catering menu. My personal favorite salad is the Asian Seven Vegetable Salad with miso vinaigrette. The salad that is chosen most is the Spinach Salad with aged cheddar and bacon vinaigrette. There is another salad that we make that uses Maytag bleu cheese and it is divine.

There are twenty different side accompaniments to choose from. This seems to be the part of the catering menu that gives clients the hardest time making their two choices. There are so many delicious things and it really is hard for even me to decide what my own favorite is. I currently have a three way tie for favorite; it is between Jalapeño Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus and Buttermilk Chive Mashed Potatoes.

I think that the easiest choice that my clients make from the catering menu if for the bread. We have three varieties of bread available for our dinner buffets. We have an Herb Focaccia, sourdough baguettes and honey buttermilk rolls. I like all three, but the focaccia is my favorite.

We have a catering menu for just about every type of affair, but the one for the dinner buffet is the one that gets used the most. I keep brainstorming for good ideas for entrees and keep eliminating ones that don’t work well. Logistics is very important when catering any kind of event. A lot of thought has gone into the items I keep on the catering menu.

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Catering Service Observation

May 23rd, 2013

It seems like every weekend a different catering service is setting up in our clubhouse. I work at an apartment complex in Dallas and we have an excellently landscaped property. People rent out our clubhouse for wedding receptions because of how lovely it looks around the pool area and throughout the loft style clubhouse. We can accommodate up to seventy people on the premises.

Sammy’s Bar-B-Q is my favorite catering service. The people that show up with the food for setting up are always friendly and quick. The crew that they have show up and serve is always polite. I’ve never seen anyone have any trouble at all with any event catered by Sammy’s.

A whole bunch of people showed up from the Asian Mint catering service last weekend. They practically transformed the clubhouse. A sushi chef arrived and made special pieces of sushi all night. Each table was set up with Sake and there were colorful red banners hung all over the place. I felt like I might be in Tokyo.

There was a wedding last winter that was different than any I had seen previously. Ms. Mary’s Southern Cuisine was an interesting catering service. They showed up with macaroni and cheese, Fried Catfish, collard greens and several sweet potato pies. It looked delicious.

The funniest wedding catering service I’ve ever seen showed up from Roly Poly Sandwiches. They showed up and made custom sandwiches for the guests. The guests were dressed extremely nicely for a sandwich reception. The bride and grooms families looked like they came from very different backgrounds.

There was a teenage couple that used a catering service for an after prom party at our clubhouse. They had a local Italian food restaurant deliver a huge spread of food. There was a cop hired for the night and there was a zero tolerance for alcohol in effect. It was a great success and lots of teenagers were there all night long.

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Buying Catering Supplies

April 23rd, 2013

I have been purchasing new catering supplies for a long time. I started my business with just myself and my sister. We put our own money into it at first and now it is paying for itself. We work really well together and we have agreed to reinvest our money into catering supplies each time we seem to reach a new level.

We make really great food. Our presentation on the first few jobs that we did needed a lot of improvement. One of the first investments in catering supplies was for beautiful stainless steel serving trays. I felt about two inches taller when I was using those trays the first time.

I keep trying to get my sister to agree to candelabras for our next investment in catering supplies. She keeps resisting me and is lobbying for elegant water pitchers. I think that I’d like to buy both of these things and maybe our budget for catering supplies will accommodate it. I’ll check where we stand after our next job.

I really want to have professional restaurant style catering supplies. I think that having a portable flambe trolley with brass trim would add so much pizzazz to our presentation. My sister is unsure that she wants that much pizzazz. I think that I would invest in new chafing dishes before I’d buy a flambe trolley.

My husband gave the business an investment into the catering supplies fund when we were first starting out. We used his investment with some of our own and bought tools and accessories for the actual preparation of the food. We try to balance our purchases between what we use in preparation and what we use for presentation. I think that we have a pretty good balance right now.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking about all of the catering supplies we need and get a little overwhelmed. I try to remember that we started this as a business to make money, but also so that we would share something that we both really enjoy. The pure enjoyment of catering is still there whether I get to buy the new portable electric glass washer or not. I just catch myself thinking that I might enjoy it more if I had one and have to laugh.

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Corporate Caterers As Competitors

March 23rd, 2013

As a three-man operation, corporate caterers drive me a little bit crazy. Most of the time they bid on jobs that are way out of my capabilities, but occasionally we butt heads over smaller weddings. I feel like they have enough business and should leave my small piece of the pie alone.

I ran into the head of a group of corporate caterers at a business leader’s luncheon last year. She was so rude to me. I know that we have different styles and travel in different social circles, but we are in the same business. I felt like she could have treated me with more respect.

There was one wedding this spring that I wanted to cater. I put a bid in for the job and cooked a sample plate for the mother of the bride. One of my competitors belongs to an organized group of corporate caterers. He showed up after me and undercut my price. I already price my work very competitively and can’t start a price war with corporate caterers.

I was really steamed because I thought that they would pick the corporate caterers over me because of the price. They chose me and told me that they liked and needed my personal touches to make the wedding day perfect. I was relieved, but I was still angry that the corporate caterers had gotten me so irritated.

I see a need for corporate caterers when a banquet for five hundred people is what is planned. I don’t think that corporate caterers need to get into the business of small family weddings and pool parties. Those are areas of my expertise and that of a bunch of other catering sole proprietorships.

I don’t think that I’ve seen the last of the corporate caterers, but I’ve learned some lessons from their mistakes. I always address the clients respectfully and not just assume that it is okay to call people by their first name, even if I know the name. I also know that clients want to feel like they are your only project and that you care about the event.

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Being An Event Caterer

February 23rd, 2013

I became interested in being an event caterer several years ago when my brother asked me to help plan something for his company. It was his responsibility to impress his boss and some prospective clients. I worked really hard to pull off something professional. It took a lot of effort and I believed that I could help people that didn’t have enough time to plan their own events.

As an event caterer, I provide everything that someone will need. I can include food, beverages, staff, entertainment and even flowers. There is no end to what I am willing to do for my clients. I have a fantastic reputation now as an event caterer and I haven’t had to turn down any jobs, yet, but I may have to soon.

I planned a corporate event last month that included the most services that I’ve ever been asked for at one event. I was referred to this company by someone I catered a wedding for last year. I think being an event caterer is a lot of fun.

I have more fun with large corporate events than I do with weddings. I think that is mostly because executives appreciate an event caterer making all of the choices and a bride wants to make all of the choices. I get to use my own creativity more with event planning.

There was an executive Christmas party that a local corporate world headquarters wanted to throw last year and they interviewed every event caterer in the area and chose me. I had so much fun planning this event. The corporation gave me a ridiculous budget and I used in ways that would make every guest feel like a stars.

I don’t think any other event caterer in our area will provide limo or valet services for the guests. I provide those services when they are requested. I also will design and send invitations to events and I know that no one else does that. I am completely full service and come with a lot of good recommendations.

The most fun that I’ve ever had planning an event was when my stepmother’s Red Hat Society group wanted an event caterer to create a memorable 65th birthday party for five of its members. We had an afternoon tea party and there were so many flowers and frills that I couldn’t help but smile. Those are some really fun women.

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My Two Favorite Wedding Caterers

January 23rd, 2013

There are these two wedding caterers in my town that I just love. I see them at about three quarters of the weddings I attend. I think I’ve seen them at every bridal shower as well. They have a varied menu and are really great cooks.

The two wedding caterers each have a signature appetizer to offer the client. One of them stuffs mushrooms and they are marvelous. The other one served spiced nuts in dishes everywhere. I can’t decide which I like more.

I let each of my daughters choose their own wedding caterers. They each chose a different one, but they both cost roughly the same amount. I hired the same caterer for both of my daughter’s bridal showers. I did not choose the same menu, though.

Wedding caterers have a lot of menus to choose from usually. My daughter Jenny picked the quiche and fruit for her bridal party. My daughter Sarah a taco bar. Those were two very different parties! I enjoyed both and the food was fantastic.

Jenny’s wedding caterers delivered her a buffet that was so beautiful. There was a tropical fruit display, a seasonal vegetable tray with herb dipping sauce. There was a cheese tray with three cheeses and gourmet crackers. She chose finger sandwiches and Iced Tea. The fare was very light and very tasty.

The wedding caterers for Sarah’s wedding cost a little bit more, but she had a heavier meal. She also had a tropical fruit display and a cheese board, but there is where the similarity to Jenny’s wedding ended. She had a carving station with pork tenderloin, Caesar salads, and pasta and bread baskets on every table.

My son is getting married next fall and his fiance has asked me to help her plan the wedding. She has chosen between the two wedding caterers that we’ve already worked with. She liked the food at both weddings. She is a vegetarian and was thrilled at the offerings by the caterer that she chose. There will be soups, stews, roasted vegetables, eggplant parmesan as the main course and stuffed portobello mushroom. I think that there was even more on the menu, but everything I heard her name sounded delicious. I can hardly wait until the wedding.

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Running A Catering Business

August 23rd, 0201

Running a catering business is a lot harder than just cooking for people. There is definitely an art to this profession. There are a lot of considerations when you start a catering business. If you are unable to coordinate Thanksgiving dinner for your family, this is not the job for you.

One of the parts of a good catering business is developing menus. The menus that you develop need to keep in mind the preparation times and whether or not the recipes multiply well. It is good to practice some of the more decorative aspects of your menu on your friends and family.

You have to have a good and reliable supplier of meat and produce for your catering business. If you offer asparagus on your menu and it is chosen, you need to be able to deliver asparagus to the table. Getting to know farmers at the local farmer’s market is a great idea for anyone running a catering business.

You have to actually have paying jobs to consider yourself a caterer. A catering business needs a business plan and a marketing strategy. This is a hard market to break into without a reputation. People have to take a gamble on you. It is a great idea to ask clients after a successful job if you can use them as a reference.

It is vital to a catering business that the businesses not take on more jobs than it can handle. It is better to turn someone away when you know that you will be too busy than to accept the work and not deliver what was promised. Reputation really is everything and knowing your limitations will help your catering business not look foolish.

Hiring someone periodically to look at your catering business is a good idea. It is valuable information to know that adding just one employee would make the catering business either succeed more or completely derail its profitability. It is a smart business move to let people who know more than you analyze your plan.

A catering business can take up a lot of time. It is only a good idea to do it if you are enthusiastic and have a lot of family support. I would never recommend this line of work to someone that would end up resenting the weekends spent working. At the end of the day, a catering business really is a labor of love.

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