9 essential skills for wannabe caterers
Thinking of entering the catering field? There are loads of catering jobs that you can do, but we are solely focusing on the caterer profession today. There are a few things you should be aware of, so take note of these 9 essential skills for wannabe caterers:
1. Cooking: Catering is all about food. It doesn’t matter how meticulously the catering venue has been decorated, your clients won’t return if the food is disgusting. You need cooking experience to create or alter recipes, plan menus and prepare, preheat, reheat and transport food.
2. Food safety: You should be aware of standards and regulations for food safety and you should comply with the most-up-to-date food safety laws in South Africa if you want to be a professional caterer.
3. Customer Service: Caterers work with clients to design a menu. You have to be courteous, tactful and diplomatic when it comes to this. Sometimes you’ll also need to persuade clients to substitute dishes or ingredients, so good communication and people skills are also essential. Take note that we may live in the 21st century, but a satisfied customer is still the best recommendation that any caterer can get and word-of-mouth is still one of the most effective advertising methods.
3. Flexibility & Creativity: Your recipes may need to be adjusted (to cope with food allergies) and cooking methods may have to be altered (to conform to religious dietary requirements or personal preferences). You need to be imaginative and adaptable if you want to accomplish this and ensure that clients retain their confidence in you in the process. The phrase “adapt or die” comes to mind.
4. Leadership: Catering managers have to manage cooks, servers, cleaners, dishwashers, etc. They have to make sure that their teams are aware of schedules, place settings, serving customs and food safety regulations. Keep in mind that in some cases they may also need to provide direction and advice to customers.
5. Motivation: To be successful you need to be enthusiastic and proactive. You have to promote yourself and your business to bring in clients. You have to be prepared and you need stamina to work long hours (especially during the busiest times of the year). To be successful you have to stay motivated and motivate your employees when business is slow.
6. Financial planning: Work fluctuations are not uncommon in catering, it’s a key part of it. You need to think smart and financially plan and balance out slowdowns with busy periods.
7. Business Management: A catering business has to be profitable. The admin side of things usually involves pricing services, accounting, taxes, managing employees, ordering food and organizing schedules and budgets. You have to be prepared to do all of this when you’re entering this profession.
8. Marketing: You have tasty food, but you’re not getting bookings because no-one knows about you. Getting your business noticed is very important. Set up social media profiles on Facebook and Twitter to promote your business, build up a good network of contacts and liaise with venue organizers, event planners, florists and various other service providers. You need to do this in order to organize and execute successful events.
9. Attention to detail: Working as a caterer could also mean that you’re in charge of decor, table arrangements and food presentation. You could also be required to set up, run and clear a diningroom. Pay attention to detail to impress your clients and their guests (who are all potential clients).
To be successful you need to take time to study the catering field and learn about its challenges and demands. If you love cooking, interacting with people and you have a flair for parties, a career as a caterer might be the right choice.
Well, there you have it, 9 essential skills for wannabe caterers. Is there something we left out? Leave a comment and let us know.
Looking for the latest catering jobs? Check the latest listings on Job Mail.