catering vs restaurants

164
10
Joined Dec 2, 2000
My internship is right around the corner and from all you catering specialists I have 1 question..
But first some info..
I would like to cater in the future for myself but I have 0 restaurant experience.
Do I take an internship with a caterer or go to a restaurant??
Seems redundant but I have no clue about working in restaurants, I do not want to miss out on the experience if it is great.
I want my cake and eat it too..
Speak!!
Thank all.
Danielle :eek:
 
2,938
11
Joined Mar 4, 2000
It truly is a personal thing. Some people love restaurants and hate catering, and vice versa. I liked restaurant work for 10 years, before I started catering, and then discovered a whole new world of cooking and pastry that I had never considered.

Here are some of the differences:

Catering offers the opportunity to work in people's homes, which can provide a nice change of pace from your ususal surroundings.

Restaurants offer you an unlimited range of possibilities in terms of what can and can't be done with food. With catering, you have to consider traveling, holding (in unexpected temperatures or humidity), plating in mass quantity, and many other logistical details.

Catering menus change all the time, so you never get bored for too long; on the other hand, sometimes the prep for very big parties can be painfully tedious.

Restaurant work only changes when the menu changes, for the most part.

Catering in tents or garages can sometimes involve extreme temperatures. If you do work in a restaurant, find one with climate control.

You can be equally creative in both, however, just in a different way. I would try restaurant work, if I were you. It's a different world.
 
4,508
32
Joined Jul 31, 2000
I echo what momoreg says.

In a busy/quility focused restaurant you can optain many skills that will help you move into catering with a edge.
Line skills
Organization skills
mise en place
Food costing
long hours :)
teamwork
ETC..I think anyone who has the oppurtunity to work in a restuarant for sometime will have a better transtion into catering than the other way around.Also,don't rule out a good hotel with a commis program
Good luck Danielle
cc
 
1,640
12
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Having started in catering then moved to club (like restaurants) work, I TOTALLY agree with Capechefs points! You'll be better organized and ready for catering work after first learning restaurant work.

But.......I'd like to add that once you've REALLY learned catering, working in a restaurant is like being a vacation with everything at your finger tips. We did experience (in catering) several young culinary students that were really lost by the lack of facitlities (on site) and difference from school into catering enviroment.
 
415
10
Joined Jan 15, 2001
I agree with everyone's sentiments. I started at a restaurant(desserts), moved on to a bakery and then catering. It would be good to try out the restaurant experience so you have a feel about prepping the mise en place, working the fast paced line with up to the minute orders,etc. What I love about catering is the flexibility and creativity involved with each party. Yes, you may have to work in a hot garage one night and then a state of the art kitchen in a mansion in Beverly Hills the next. There is a lot more planning in how to present the food, taking into account how it will be prepared either at the main shop or on location, and whether the plating presentation is practical if say you're doing a sit-down for 500 versus or a buffet.
 
164
10
Joined Dec 2, 2000
Very interesting and very informative..
I forgot to mention that while I will be doing my non-paying internship I need to also fulfill my parttime nightshift schedule at the hosital where I work as a Respiratory therapist from 7PM to 7 AM. (mortgage)
Yah, small detail...
I was thinking about working every Monday night and Tuesday night at the hospital and then the rest of the week at the catering business.
The chefs in Portland are not very flexible, since they have been burned so many times by these non- caring, irresponsible culinary students. Some restaurants here ban the students from interning with them..

Ok so if I choose a restaurant do I intern with a hotel or do I just go for the gusto and pick a restaurant that will work me to death..
I love the action..and thrive on stress..and don't mind learning and practicing my weaknesses..
Thank you all...
Danielle
 
1,640
12
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Throwing in you have a mortgage to pay really influences how I would go if I was you! Honestly if I was you and I didn't have a spouse and kids (which I don't know if you do?) I'd sell the house and move into an apt. with a couple roommates. Because I'd do some traveling while I'm learning (plus several other obvious $$ reasons) and starting my career.

In a perfect world if I could do it all over knowing what (little) I know now, this is how I would chart my course.

After school, I'd start at a high end hotel like the Four Seasons. I'd let them train me in their system and work ALL their departments (around 3 years), learn LARGE banquet work, pastrys, room service etc... working the line in their finest restaurant (where you would really sharpen your skills). Then I'd transfer and work a year here and a year there around the world with-in their hotel system.

Then if I wanted to go into catering I'd work at several caterers (temp. ONLY) in the area learning all I could about each one.
After seeing first hand who's who and how good they really are, I'd start working full time with the best up and coming caterer I could. While I went to business school at night!!!

I'd stay with that caterer for a long while, (if they were good) min. 5 plus years (because it takes sometime to really learn the problems and how to solve them in catering). I'd learn who's the movers and shakers in the industry (ie. consultants, florists, clients etc...) then if I wanted to venture out into my own business I'd have the skills and some of knowledge necessary to make an honest serious go of it.

Oh, in a perfect world I'd leave jobs WELL before I hated the situation! Always leave as freinds on the top!!! ;)
 
164
10
Joined Dec 2, 2000
Sounds great however I just bought the house and if you know the Oregon market.. ise portland.. you know that i didn't pay a pretty penny for it.
Just had it built to boot.
But that sounds like a plan.. actually I would love to work banquets..
And go about it that way..
I may take your advice and go that route.. we'll see. Anyone else..
Thank you
Danielle
 
164
10
Joined Dec 2, 2000
Sounds great however I just bought the house and if you know the Oregon market.. ise portland.. you know that i didn't pay a pretty penny for it.
Just had it built to boot.
But that sounds like a plan.. actually I would love to work banquets..
And go about it that way..
I may take your advice and go that route.. we'll see. Anyone else..
Thank you
Danielle
 
1,640
12
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Danielle, odds are that the restaurant or caterer that you work for will have certain holidays that are manditory for you to work...my last job required ALL holidays, period or find another job. But that's not the norm....It's kind of obvious which holidays tend to be the busiest for food service:Thanks Giving & Easter are musts, but most restaurants are closed on the 4th of July, etc...

Anyway, being married and having finacial commitments do influence your decision, BIG TIME! If you have a nice hotel like the Four Seasons near you I'd start there like I mentioned above. If not get into the best quality restaurant you can and learn all the stations.

Or, if you just can't resist catering get your name in with all your local caterers as a temp. worker at their parties. But I hope you'll consider the points others have made as to where to start....
 
6
10
Joined Aug 17, 2001
Danille unfortunatly the closest four seasons hotel is the olympic in seattle,do you still have the alexis hotel down by the river?it used to be pretty good.you also have a good culinary school up there,western culinary institute.good luck
 
164
10
Joined Dec 2, 2000
Kwong..
Iam attending the Western Culinary Institute...And iam trying to find out which route to take for my internship///
Danielle :confused:
 

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