The Caterers Corner
Seeking Other Options Caterers Corner: Seeking Other Options
By Savsens (Savsens) on Tuesday, January 07, 2003 - 11:55 pm: Edit

I've been doing some catering on the side out of my home for the last few years(yes, illegally, I know but the business is too small and sporadic for me to go legal just yet...sorry, I know what you pros think of that!). However, for various reasons (including the fact that I know that to grow my business I need to become 'legal') I'm interested in taking my business in a different direction. I work full time and quitting my job to devote to the business is not an option right now. However, I love to cook,definitely have talent, and would like to do something with it.

Can anyone suggest any other options I can consider? I've looked a bit into personal cheffing, but because I work, I'd only be able to have maybe one client once a month, and I'm not sure that would work. There's got to be something else out there! Any thoughts? Is there ANYTHING I could possibly do from home legally? Thanks!


By Snuffaluff (Snuffaluff) on Wednesday, January 08, 2003 - 08:41 am: Edit

you can stuff envelopes, or medical billing... uuuhhh... that's all I can think of right now. *8)

ps. I'm no chef

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Wednesday, January 08, 2003 - 11:02 am: Edit


I started out in catering on my own by on site catering (come on, guys, I don't want to hear it). Check with your health department to see if they allow it in your area. You need to have a serve safe certificate (at least you do in California, $150 or so for the class), insurance, and some minimal equipment. You need to let your customers know that you will be cooking on their premises and the mess involved. That taken into consideration... the world is yours. It worked for me for several years until I got my feet under me and I made several good long lasting liasons with corporate customers with whom I still work after 10 years. It can help you start slowly and give you the opportunity to get some cash together to make the big move. Good luck.

By Savsens (Savsens) on Wednesday, January 08, 2003 - 01:49 pm: Edit

Thanks, Ladycake. I will give that some consideration. Were most of your customers corporate? Did you do on-site catering for clients at their homes as well, using their kitchens? One thing that automatically pops in my mind is having to cook in a tiny kitchen! Have you ever encountered that and if so, how'd you handle it. What are some of the disadvantages to on-site catering?

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Wednesday, January 08, 2003 - 06:06 pm: Edit

No, most of my clients were not corporate. The corporate clients were usually in guest houses and were for more sophisticated customers. The private homes are smaller and more inconvenient, but many of the customers are wealthy and have nice homes with good equipment and home style convection ovens etc. Some of them even have Viking stoves and others that are "commercial" style stoves made for home use. For ease of use, they can't be beat because your sheet pans and hotel pans will fit.

The most convenient on-site catering is when your customer rents a hall (i.e. Veteran's or Elk's) and pays a little extra for use of the kitchen - your use of the kitchen. Keep in mind that I live in a rural area and I know most of these places and the people who run them. It sure makes things easier and cheaper on me!!!

Problems? Trying to use commercial sheetpans (sometimes even a half sheetpan) in a small oven. Having everything in hotel pans and they won't fit in the oven. Having kitchen equipment that won't work. Wear and tear on your equipment transporting it all over the place. Suggestions: always view the kitchen before hand, measuring tape in hand. Test the ovens, take an oven thermometer with you; and the fire on the burners. Don't take the customers' word for it. Have insulated boxes with you as their oven capacities are always small! Allow for unforseen problems.

If you are raising bread, take an insulated box for that, many houses are very drafty and the owners are so used to it they don't notice - ever try to serve flat bread?

If you are transporting Kitchenaids and Cuisinarts or Robotcoups, have padded boxes made to fit. It may cost you a few dollars, but will save you replacement costs in the end. Transportation is as hard on kitchen equipment as it is on furniture. If you really want to have good equipment and take care of it, invest a little to save a lot. Account for your equipment. Have an inventory list and use it. Make sure you go home with all of your tongs, spoons, knives, etc. One item left at each site adds up fast. Also, one item removed from each site annoys a lot of customers.

Good luck.

By Savsens (Savsens) on Thursday, January 09, 2003 - 01:04 pm: Edit

Great info & advice! Thanks again, Ladycake.


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