New to this and need help with my full service outside catering conundrum!!

Joined Dec 31, 2015
It’s been a little over a year since I posted anything here.  Long story short, I’ve been operating my catering business for over a year.  While working a fulltime day job, wife, and mother of three college children.  Needless to say, my life has been really busy this last year.  The business has revenue over $100,000 with just word of mouth/referrals, a website and no advertisement or marketing. I’m now planning for expansion and will be targeting the DIY wedding/event market offering outside full service catering.

I cook out of an incubator kitchen centrally located in my city.  Learned a lot about a lot this last year.  Every event has taught me more and more about the catering industry along with my catering peers who have been willing to share.  I’m not classically trained. But licensed. Last year I stepped into full service catering. Our biggest event was a full service banquet (buffet w/servers) for 450 guest (that was an intensely crazy, satisfying and an OMG we just did that thing moment).  The venue there allowed us to warm up food on the grounds.  Therefore, I was able to bring portable warming equipment.

My current conundrum is providing full service at venues that don’t allow onsite food prep or warming.  It takes my staff and I at least 2 hours to set up the banquet area with linens, tableware, water goblets…etc in addition to the buffet set up.  Most events have an appetizer hour before dinner is served. I don’t want food to be sitting in Cambros for 4-6 hours before consumption. My max has always been 2hours.  How are you full service caterers managing your set up time and ensuring the integrity of your food stays in tack until severing?  I’ve thought about designated personnel to be at the venue to set up while the kitchen staff finish up the food and transport to the venue about an hour before service time.  Again, the entree menu is still in Cambros longer than my 2 hour max.  

You don’t know what you don’t know….until you know, lol  Any help/insight would be greatly appreciated.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Logistics is the name of the game. Every catering is different and as you found out this year you learn quick. If I were doing this catering and in most cases it does depend on the main entrees I'm serving, I would do things in stages. I would send a crew to set up, then have a few come back for the appetizer's. I would then follow with my cooks with the main meal. Like I said this does depend on my entree. If I was doing a prime rib and it could stay in a warmer longer than some other entrees then I may bring the appetizer's and main meal together. Everyone has a job to do and also be responsible for that job. Everything at the function is timed to perfection. When I call my staff I never want to hear the word "THINK" as in, I think everything's OK, I think everyone knows whats there're doing, I think the stereos are light. The day of the catering is the time to know. I tell my cooks and lead people. WE had two months to figure everything out, now is the time it all comes together.......Good Luck.......ChefBillyB
Joined Jun 27, 2012
Go walk your venues with the planner and make a map of ins and outs...every time and even if you know that place backwards and forwards.

You never know when some idiot will stick a dj booth and a cigar roller in the only space large enuf for your buffet.

Stand your ground.....after the cake and the rules the day.

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