Anyone know anything about catering?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by AllStressedOut, Jul 8, 2007.

  1. AllStressedOut

    AllStressedOut New Member

    I need advice from both ends, someone who has used a caterer and someone who has worked in the business.

    If I were to start this up for extra $, do I need a permit or a food handlers certificate? What is the typical expense when someone requests caterers be on hand? Do you charge hourly? Are there minimum hours?

    I'm clueless, but I love to cook and I'm pretty good at it, so I thought it would be a fun job. Any advice?
  2. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Check your state and local rules and regulations. Here, you have to be licensed; your kitchen examined to insure sanitary conditions and correct oven/water temperature; being bonded helps. I do have a friend who has gotten around this by only doing catering in peoples' homes and cooking there. This is difficult since ovens vary and you have to carry your own cooking paraphanalia, including pots, to where you are going. One way to get around the licensing is not advertise and simply do it by word of mouth.

    You will frequently need to hire servers and, occasionally, a bartender, which means knowing how to do employee taxes and the like.

    You might check some of your local caterers to see if they need help either serving or in the kitchen. It will give you an idea of what you need for your area but I wouldn't recommend letting them know you want to be in competition with them.

    Here's a site that might help you a little:

    Good luck!
  3. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    Way back before that new dinner service opened, I use to kid my friends about cooking them all dinner. I love to cook. I always had a big meal planned, and told my neighbors if they told me what they wanted I could have it done and delivered by the time they got home from work. now they opened "dinner by design". I wouldn't charge as much though.
  4. AllStressedOut

    AllStressedOut New Member

    I advertised on craiglist and made it basically for people who can't cook and want to have a meal prepared for friends/family.

    The problem is, a realtor contacted me and asked me on pricing for open house type food. I quoted her $20 for a tray of finger sandwiches & $20 for 4 dz. cookies. Honestly, I have no clue if thats good.

    I didn't expect a business person to contact me.

    Should I be concerned that I need to be licensed or have insurance? Should I refuse the work?
  5. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    I would be concerned. I do believe there are licensing issues involved. Insurance also. Wish there wasn't as I would love doing something like that. Maybe there could be a waiver type form. don't know.
    Personal experience from a family member..My brother owns a subway. A group of people became sick and traced it to the subway. He was sued. Turns out one of his employees was sick, it was passed on through the food. Don't believe it was ecoli, but some sort of illness.
    You know when you are cooking for 8 anyway...may as well be 20.
    You must go through a ton of food. For just my family of 4..When I make mashed potatoes I make 6 - 8 potatoes and they are always gone. must use an entire 5lb bag!
    How do you do school lunch? Hot or cold lunch?
  6. AllStressedOut

    AllStressedOut New Member

    A waiver! Thats a great idea. Now I just have to find one that is already prepared by an attorney.

    Lunch for my difficult child on a special diet is leftovers from the night before. His 504 plan at school includes a teacher heating it up for him in the microwave.

    The other kiddos go back and forth between making their own lunch and buying it at school. Cafeteria food isn't that good, but they don't like making their own lunches. LAZY!!

    When I cook for Thanksgiving or Christmas we use 10 lbs. Unfortunately with my youngest difficult children diet, we don't eat potatoes often. He can't have them, so typically its a no go. Groceries run about $800 a month.