General Characteristics of Catering Job vs Restaurant Job

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Joined Sep 10, 2016
Hi, I don't have much experience with catering, I worked at a resort that had weddings periodically and some of the restaurant work I have done involved a catered lunch or something, so I have a bit of an idea of what it could be like, but I'm hoping you can offer some general ideas of what it's like to do kitchen work in catering. There are some obvious differences from working on the line, for example, the large volume of production, preparing 600 canapes and such. My main goal is simply to keep developing my culinary and knife skills, and the catering gig I am looking at is with a more high end caterer. So I am mainly looking for learning opportunities, I imagine you get good at a particular thing after doing it 600 times!
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
I'm not really sure what your question is but if you are asking about differences between restaurant and catering production a lot of it would depend on the types of places, menus, venues, etc.
 
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Joined Sep 10, 2016
I'm not really sure what your question is but if you are asking about differences between restaurant and catering production a lot of it would depend on the types of places, menus, venues, etc.
Thanks, yes, general differences between working on the line in a restaurant vs doing catering production onsite or for delivery. The place I am looking at is higher end, does weddings, corporate gigs, events etc. Buffets, 5 course plated menus, family style meals, hors d'oeuvres, etc. Ranging from tacos to elegant desserts.
 
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Joined Oct 1, 2006
Hi masseurchef,

High end indicates to me "high attention to detail". Whatever you are responsible for had better get done, correctly! From any item you make to counting plates and silverware, to trash bags or whatever. This is critical for delivery! Where are the Sterno? Didn't you bring enough extension cords? Salt and Pepper? Huh, I thought....
Make sure you understand your responsibilities!

Good luck and have fun!
 
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Joined Sep 10, 2016
Thanks, it's actually very helpful to highlight "attention to detail" as I hadn't really considered that aspect. Now it's in the back of my mind where it could help me on the job.
Hi masseurchef,

High end indicates to me "high attention to detail". Whatever you are responsible for had better get done, correctly! From any item you make to counting plates and silverware, to trash bags or whatever. This is critical for delivery! Where are the Sterno? Didn't you bring enough extension cords? Salt and Pepper? Huh, I thought....
Make sure you understand your responsibilities!

Good luck and have fun!
 
416
145
Joined Sep 17, 2018
Hi masseurchef,

High end indicates to me "high attention to detail". Whatever you are responsible for had better get done, correctly! From any item you make to counting plates and silverware, to trash bags or whatever. This is critical for delivery! Where are the Sterno? Didn't you bring enough extension cords? Salt and Pepper? Huh, I thought....
Make sure you understand your responsibilities!

Good luck and have fun!
Yes this is a very important point. When I worked for a catering business that only did off site catering this was something I hadn't really had to worry about while working in a restaurant. If you are responsible for the start to finish of off site catering you are going to spend a lot of time counting flatware, chairs, decorations, serving utensils, condiments, disposables, etc. along with also having to produce the food.

I personally preferred working in a regular restaurant kitchen. Although you can get a lot of good organizational skills through catering, it wasn't what I ended up wanting to do. There was just too much non-cooking/food things I had to take care of and I found myself not enjoying the behind the scenes aspect to it.

As far as upscale restaurant versus upscale catering there will be many similarities with foods used, production methods. etc. It will just depends on scaling those things to meet your needs. I also found that I personally felt all my food was fresher when I could prep and cook it for the meal service that night rather than trying to prep numerous things ahead of time for a catering. And I'll admit I was not a master veteran in the catering field but I felt that no matter what equipment was used or how close to the event you could do/put out the food it would never be the same quality as a restaurant. That being said there are lots of great catering businesses and professionals, it just didn't flow with what I wanted to do when entering the industry.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
There was no bigger sense go accomplish than the feeling I had after a successful catering. The thing that made me successful was that I was real good at logistics. When your cooking on a front line everything is made and served at that time. In catering it's all about making food to be served at a later time and still have a high level of quality. A good caterer has to know how to do all kinds of food. When I catered I did all kinds of menus in all kinds of locations. The main keys to me are, knowledge of how to follow recipes, logistics and how to hold food properly.......Good Luck......ChefBillyB
 
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Joined Sep 10, 2016
Thank you, attention to detail, logistics, holding food...I'm starting to really get an idea of what it's like working in catering, with your help.

There was no bigger sense go accomplish than the feeling I had after a successful catering. The thing that made me successful was that I was real good at logistics. When your cooking on a front line everything is made and served at that time. In catering it's all about making food to be served at a later time and still have a high level of quality. A good caterer has to know how to do all kinds of food. When I catered I did all kinds of menus in all kinds of locations. The main keys to me are, knowledge of how to follow recipes, logistics and how to hold food properly.......Good Luck......ChefBillyB
 
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
ive done both of course.
I like restaurants. I LOVE catering.
There are of course many reasons but I think one of the biggest ones when
I think about it, is that event catering is highly interactive.
Whereas line cooking is not. I mean with the clientele obviously I'm not talking
about interacting with the front of the house LOL.
and while you can run into unexpected things in the kitchen it's basically the same
thing each shift.
Catering on the other hand is never the same thing twice even if you have the same
group that you had once before.
As to cuisine it changes around enoughin catering that you rarely get bored making
the same thing.
Now with all that said you can work for a caterer and come close to a line position
by simply cooking in the catering kitchen but not going out on events.
I suppose it all depends what you want to do.
Personally I prefer going out on events and basically doing it all..... set up,
client interaction, cooking on site, serving and breakdown.
I'd rather cater than just about anything.
 
67
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Joined Sep 10, 2016
That's really good to hear, I will make sure to try going out on events as well as work in the catering kitchen.

ive done both of course.
I like restaurants. I LOVE catering.
There are of course many reasons but I think one of the biggest ones when
I think about it, is that event catering is highly interactive.
Whereas line cooking is not. I mean with the clientele obviously I'm not talking
about interacting with the front of the house LOL.
and while you can run into unexpected things in the kitchen it's basically the same
thing each shift.
Catering on the other hand is never the same thing twice even if you have the same
group that you had once before.
As to cuisine it changes around enoughin catering that you rarely get bored making
the same thing.
Now with all that said you can work for a caterer and come close to a line position
by simply cooking in the catering kitchen but not going out on events.
I suppose it all depends what you want to do.
Personally I prefer going out on events and basically doing it all..... set up,
client interaction, cooking on site, serving and breakdown.
I'd rather cater than just about anything.
 
67
19
Joined Sep 10, 2016
So did you take the job? :)
I did! Just completed a little half-shift stage and I took a part-time position. My first impression was one of chaos and I thought "oh shit, what have I got myself into?" but after a few hours I realized I just love getting my hands on food of all kinds and I like experiencing production that is different than being on the line, a different flow, different timelines, different imperatives. And sometimes there's a backstory to the appearance of chaos that needs to be acknowledged, which I found out later. Perhaps most importantly, it sounds like this caterer has relatively specialized staff such that the position is cooking/food focused, with minimal ancillary duties. I know how essential those ancillary duties are and I respect the dishwasher as much as anyone, but I'm trained to work with food and that's what I want to do.
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
I did! Just completed a little half-shift stage and I took a part-time position. My first impression was one of chaos and I thought "oh shit, what have I got myself into?" but after a few hours I realized I just love getting my hands on food of all kinds and I like experiencing production that is different than being on the line, a different flow, different timelines, different imperatives. And sometimes there's a backstory to the appearance of chaos that needs to be acknowledged, which I found out later. Perhaps most importantly, it sounds like this caterer has relatively specialized staff such that the position is cooking/food focused, with minimal ancillary duties. I know how essential those ancillary duties are and I respect the dishwasher as much as anyone, but I'm trained to work with food and that's what I want to do.
Good luck and I hope you gain a lot of knowledge and skill out of it.
 
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
Glad youre enjoying it.
Larger companys are more compartmentalized, with
more specific "positions" for staff.
My expedience is with smaller outfits, where everyone
does everything....with the exception of cooking usually.
 
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Joined Sep 10, 2016
Yes, like at some of those small restaurants where they hire 1 cook to work the line, do prep, wash dishes and do whatever else needs done, lol. But you know, I'm glad I learned some of those ancillary duties, especially if I ever want to run my own operation. But yes, it's nice to be working for a large operation with specialized positions.

Glad youre enjoying it.
Larger companys are more compartmentalized, with
more specific "positions" for staff.
My expedience is with smaller outfits, where everyone
does everything....with the exception of cooking usually.
 
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