Banqueting or catering experiences

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by cysoon, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. cysoon

    cysoon

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    So I realized the majority of threads here are more to ala carte working the line but don't see too much about banqueting and catering. I would like to know your experiences, good and bad. Cheers!

    As for myself, currently in the banquet kitchen In a pretty well known hotel in Malaysia. Got hired as commis 3 after my internship, 3 months in now. Pretty good experience
     
  2. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    Learn all you can, master it. The experience will serve you well in the future.
     
  3. chefross

    chefross

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    I believe that many Chefs don't take banquet and catering as seriously as they do restaurants.

    I have actually heard Chefs talk down when explaining their view on banquets.

    It is sometimes believed that banquet and catering work is somehow less meaningful or exciting as working a line, and therefore somehow

    makes one less of a cook.

    This could not be further from the truth.

    Banquet work utilizes all the preparation and attention to detail techniques, same as prepping Mis en Place for the line.

    One of the great things about catering and banquets is the variations from day to day. In a restaurant the same food is cooked every day.

    Banquets are always different.

    If as a line cook, you enjoy the repetition, and high from being at a faced pace location....all the better, but banquets and catering do allow you to expand your culinary knowledge.

    Good Luck
     
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  4. ckwwild

    ckwwild

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    Small catering company here.

    The good: freedom and flexibility in scheduling, ability to choose my clients rather than having to serve every dope that walks into a restaurant and orders an omelet with no eggs

    The not so good: needing a bullet proof (of at least the appearance of) contract, schlepping around SO. MUCH. STUFF. all the time, and missing a lot of holidays (but I guess that can also be restaurant, retail, and a whole bunch of other workers too)
     
  5. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I always got a bigger sense of accomplish from catering than I ever did in fixed menu restaurants. Catering gives a chef as much creativity as one can handle. In most cases logistics are the biggest part of a successful offsite catering. I started working in this business as a catering steward. I would not have changed that for anything. When I had my catering company many years later my good customers would not even ask me to bid the job. They would just tell me to come up with a menu you think we would like. That was a trust I would never break and I would  always give them a bit more than expected. I feel if there not bragging about you and what you did then I didn't do my job the best I could do. If my clients guests aren't loving the event then I didn't do the job I promised to my client......Chef Bill
     
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  6. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Pretty much in agreement with Chef Billy here. I've worked hot lines in fixed establishments and  event

    catering as well. Gotta say I love catering far better, for his and just many reasons. The greatest being how

    rewarding it is to get that positive feedback, the sense of gratitude and excitement that YOU were the one

    they used for their event, and that priceless feeling you get when you pick up new business from past

    satisfied clients. 

    While line cooking can carry its own (occasional) rewards, those are elements you just cant get in any other food

    service that I know of. Of the 3, line cook, banquet chef and catering, catering is my favorite hands down. 
    Thank you for that post CR, I appreciate it.

    I was a banquet room sous chef for over 6 years, and in some ways it can be harder than working

    even a busy line. Reason being that when serving say, 80 covers at 6:30 PM, that's 80 people for

    a 5 to 7 course meal, all served at once!

    There's no getting "out" of the weeds, if you're behind, you stay behind and pretty much fail the guests.

    (a similar aspect to event catering)  An up side of course is the limited menu--the most we'd serve was a

    choice of 3 main dishes, usually 2. But that advantage only goes so far--it's a couple days prep for each

    service, so doubly hard with back to back banquets. Still I found it more rewarding than being a straight line

    cook, and at least got regular feedback, almost always positive. 

    The main feedback you get behind a pass is usually when a rejected plate slides back THROUGH it. 

    And even when it's postive, it's usually anonymous. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif  
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
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  7. cysoon

    cysoon

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    It seems like catering and banqueting is different, but different how? Is it because catering is usually done off site?
     
  8. the novice

    the novice

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    More money, for the same work
     
  9. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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         I loved the catering jobs I've done. I knew what was to be done ahead of time, the work was relatively nicely paced, hours were better and events locations were always interesting. I've done catering events in a horse field, in an old Victorian summer house, government buildings, city parks and a couple of former mansions turned into the homes of non profits. And as Chefross said, the food was always different so I got the chance to experience new cooking challenges more often. 

    I had a couple of spectacularly stupid failures too but I'm taking them to the grave. I agree with ChefBillyB that the logistics are often the challenge. It can be like creating a restaurant in a new and unfamiliar location for just a day but when it goes well and an entire room full of people is loving the event, there's no better feeling.  

    Anyway, it's all part of cooking so I don't see it as better or worse than line cooking or anything else. It's just a different format. 
     
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  10. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    ?

    mimi
     
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  11. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Very insightful post by our Mimi lol,
    being as we charged from 35 to 45 dollars a plate
    for banquet dinners. While catering price per
    person varies wiiiiiiidely. The way you make money
    in catering is by volume and profit margin.
    Now, the above is speaking as owner. As a hired
    cook, I'd say the pay is pretty comparable for
    each. As is the amount of work....food service by
    nature is just plain work intensive.
     
  12. panini

    panini

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    On the line you develop timing experience.

    In banquets you develop logistical experience.

    Both are valuable experiences for personal life.

    I've found the logistical experience to be a bit more important. For me at least.

    Timing serves you well for today.

    Logistics serves you well for your future.
     
  13. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    I agree, if I did not get the very large banquet experience I did early in my career, I would not have been able to land the well paying catering gig I had later in my career.

    I was also a beast on the line, and thrived on the action.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
  14. chefross

    chefross

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    Catering is simply an offsite banquet.
     
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  15. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    The complex I started my career in Hawaii had Banquet halls and off premiss catering.We had a banquet kitchen that was shared with two restaurants. I never saw any chef screw up an on premiss banquet. I have seen many chefs screw up off premiss catering because of the lack of knowledge about logistics. If you forget something with a in house catering you just go get it in the kitchen or storeroom. If you forget something when your 30 miles from your home base kitchen your shit out of luck. When I started my own business I would be asked by my employees " how can you be so calm". I went over in my head many times how the catering would play out. I visioned how the tables would look, what was needed to be set on the table and what the plate would look like when served. I was good at logistics, I never forgot anything. In fact after I was trained in off premiss catering I was asked by other catering managers to check their equipment list to make sure they didn't forget anything. I'm not sure the OP understands the difference in catering, it could be he is in another country where off premiss catering isn't done. Catering could be a big business in the USA but I'm not to sure how many catering trucks are running around Uganda. P.S. My answer to my employee about be calm was. Someone has to be calm during this to make sure it goes off as planned. The keyword in controlled chaos is controlled. Being calm comes with confidence knowing you covered all your bases and know what to do. ...........Chef Bill
     
  16. cysoon

    cysoon

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    You are right chef bill, off premise catering here is not done the way it's done overseas where you do played dishes. OCS here are mostly buffet very rarely plated. Where I work we do OCS but I never had the chance to do so since it's usually done very small like 10-20 pax only. Thanks for the info chef bill
     
  17. cysoon

    cysoon

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    I see. But how much different is it aside from what chef bill has shared?
     
  18. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    A quick answer Cysoon. You're over thinking it. 

    Food prep is the same. 

    Cooking to order in house =line cooking. 

    Cooking all at once in house=banquet

    Cooking done somewhere else in any form=catering.
     
  19. cysoon

    cysoon

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    I'm fully aware of all the difference it's just that when I see other chefs and cooks comment about catering it looks like it's very different since its not very common here so I'm just trying to figure out the main differences and the similarities. Thanks anyway chefwriter
     
  20. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I did a catered party on this beach in Hawaii. This beach wasn't even close to my home base kitchen. We served it as a buffet serving Huli Huli chicken, with an array of fruits and vegetables. It was a very casual buffet because it was a very large group of teens so it was easy for them to just have seating on the sand or blankets. I had a demo Hibachi with 5 or 6 pieces of chicken cooking. I remember some people thinking we cooked 1000 pieces of chicken on that small grill. This was one of my first large catering. Boy did I learn a lot about logistics. We had to carry all the buffet tables, warmers, food, ice chests over the sand. When I got their the Hawaii guy that ran the security didn't want to let me in because I wasn't Hawaiian. GGGEEEZZZZZ talk about "If it could go wrong it will go wrong" gets you thinking about what to do next time. Everything went off great, but, I learned to take nothing for granted. Cysoon, your in a Hotel, its easier because it's close to your kitchen and everything you need is in house. If you run out of food you can run to the kitchen and get something to replace it. With an offsite catering you don't have that luxury. I hope this helped........Chef Bill