Banquets & Catering or A la carte ? Which direction to take?

Discussion in 'After Culinary School' started by efesto, Jan 24, 2017.

  1. Banquets

    6 vote(s)
    40.0%
  2. a La Carte

    5 vote(s)
    33.3%
  3. both

    4 vote(s)
    26.7%
  1. efesto

    efesto

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    Sooo recently graduated???

    Which path would you take? A la carte restaurant service or Banquets and catering?

    Ive worked both and stuck with volume catering, banquets and weddings.. I am all about the structure and the planning of an event! plus the challenge of quantity cooking without sacrificing quality.. 
     
  2. chefe1492

    chefe1492

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    If you enjoy it, stick with it. The banquet chef in any hotel operation is generally regarded as the third in command behind Exec. Chef and Asst. Exec. Chef. No better way to work into the big leagues and make some real money. Just get with a five star or five diamond organization. Waldorf, Ritz, Fairmont, etc.
     
  3. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I learned more in catering than I ever learned in a restaurant setting. You learn how to handle pressure and build your confidence level quickly. Catering is all about logistics, not only serving quality food, but how to do it off premiss and under adverse conditions. There are tricks in handling each food differently so as to keep the quality tasting as close as possible to just made. Catering is like a restaurant on steroids. If you can master the skills needed in catering you will be in a much better position to accomplish any stressful, quick paced, in the weeds situation that happens in a restaurant kitchen........ChefBillyB
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2017
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  4. chefross

    chefross

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    Chef... I have to comment...a long time ago I worked a Marriott conference center account as the Banquet Chef. The other cooks that worked in the restaurants would joke about how easy my job was as compared to line work. That was until a few of them were asked to help me with a few banquets once in a while.
    Since, all the cooks knew, was only line cooking, the idea of mass quantity cooking escaped them. After a while they had more respect for what I did.
    I always remember my Chef telling me that a banquet cook could easily work behind a line, but a line cook would have difficulty working banquets. Banquets utilizes all the stations in the kitchen at once where the line cook only knows saute, broiler, or fryer.
     
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  5. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    I'll throw in my two cent vote for catering and banquets. There is a lot more variety in that than there is working the station on a line. Every day and event is different and depending on which company you work for, greater exposure to a broader variety of dishes. And if you like a challenge, as has been pointed out, catering means working the logistics and handling more challenges in getting the food ready no matter where the site may be.
    I also enjoyed the advance notice inherent in catering. For me it was a calmer way of cooking. On the downside, I learned it's better if someone else negotiated with the customer. I have no patience with cheapskates.
     
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  6. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Great thread.
    High end catering was/is still my passion (delivering babies had nothing on an offsite 4th of July for a thousand... or a celebrity golf tournament :)
    I realize I keep flipflopping (get it ;-) around on this whole retirement thing but yall have stirred the pot.
    Could be that my back isn't killing me today (yet) and I might actually sweep and mop (what an idiot I am) the kitchen.
    Maybe I will make cookies instead lol.

    mimi
     
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  7. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Chefross, I remember doing a catering on a beach in Hawaii. We had to get all the vans down a cliff road to the bottom only to find a 300 lb Hawaiian looking at me saying "Everybody else can go through the gate but me". Well I was the only non Hawaiian and also I was in charge of the function. After a 1/2 hour of negotiations " a plate of food" I was able to get the buffet set up for 2000 people. We had to carry big warmers over the sand along with buffet tables and so on. We also set up a small hibachi grill and put a few pieces of Huli Huli chicken on it to show the cooking style. I remember over hearing a girl in the buffet line saying wow! they cooked all this chicken on the small grill. The learning of the importance of logistics were a bit different on the island. The experience was priceless and gave me a lot of confidence on doing many off the wall catering's over the years.


    hanauma-bay-s2.jpg
     
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  8. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    It is like arguing apples over oranges. I realize that people are going to tout their career choice as the best and hardest, that is human nature.

    Banquets & Catering vs. A la carte. They have different skill sets. They require different mind sets and personalities. No right, wrong, or better. Just fit the peg to the hole.

    My observations over a 40 year career working in restaurants, hotels, boats, event centers, catering, banquets, and whatever else there is.
    1.) in a pinch, a restaurant line cook can help out with banquets/catering; the reverse, not so much
    2.) on Chopped, caterers are usually the first to be chopped, not meant to be a dig at caterers, just to highlight the difference in mindsets between the two careers, the show is geared more to those competitors with restaurant mindsets
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
  9. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    I have done both and loved both. My 2 cents worth is to master both, it will help you out further in your career.
     
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  10. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Good advice by chefbuba! You can never know too much. Do both and figure out which one fits you best, because they are different animals.
     
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  11. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    I learned the line and was quite proficient at it then found a great banquet job doing up to 1000, worked that for a couple of years, back to the line as I worked my way up. Did movie catering for years, anything from 50 to several thousand in all sorts of locations and pressure cooker situations. That banquet job early in my career gave me the skills to take the movie job on a whim.
    Best job I ever had even though it took a toll on me. I'd go back tomorrow if I could physically do the work.
     
  12. chefross

    chefross

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    Cheflayne...."My observations over a 40 year career working in restaurants, hotels, boats, event centers, catering, banquets, and whatever else there is.
    1.) in a pinch, a restaurant line cook can help out with banquets/catering; the reverse, not so much
    2.) on Chopped, caterers are usually the first to be chopped, not meant to be a dig at caterers, just to highlight the difference in mindsets between the two careers, the show is geared more to those competitors with restaurant mindsets."


    I have to agree with you to a point.
    I had no problem switching and could easily go from line cook to banquets.
     
  13. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    That is the reason there is chef in chefross. :~)
     
  14. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Line cook= Cooking the same menu day in day out. Prepping for the same menu day in day out.

    Catering cook= Works with different menus and recipes daily. Preps different items for those different menus daily. Works and cooks in all different locations and under all kinds of conditions daily.

    All I'm say is, a catering cook works under different pressure situations on a daily basis. Once a front line has their speed and menu down. It's the same thing everyday..........
     
  15. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Not always, for 12 years, I changed my restaurant menu every week.

    I worked for a caterer for 5 years and experienced a lot of repetition.

    Six of one, a half dozen of another.
     
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  16. Sansa

    Sansa

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    You simply choose the one which you like most. Personally I preferred a career of banquet chef, yeah, I'm not the main boss here but anyway I like my job and I got great experience while working there. Besides it's really a good way for making money but only in cases of the best organizations (the more stars, the better quality).
     
  17. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    I feel that banquets and catering are the best to start with you learn so much about food cost and cooking for large crowds. While I agree you should master both I think banquets and catering are often your primary money makers so you should perfect that.
     
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  18. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Me too, Chef.

    mimi
     
  19. linecookliz

    linecookliz

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    My second restaurant job they did catering, and I helped with it some of the time. I did learn a lot, and met some fun people. Also, I saw how much the owner would make from a huge event. I liked the look of the money, lol.