How to Start a Catering Business

Catered Meal on TableWhether you like working with small private parties, large corporate businesses or festive wedding events, there is good money to be made in catering.

You can even start your own catering company without having formal cooking training (however, if you want some – see below).

In addition to catering, you can also offer a personal chef service – one of the fastest growing businesses right now.

If you enjoy the creativity that cooking offers, why not take your interest to a whole new level and make money while doing something you love?

Catering Business Training

Why would you get training? To learn how to maximize profitability using alcoholic beverages, simple garnishing techniques, food presentation and event design strategies. You can also learn tactics like efficient kitchen layout and easy, effective buffet setup and fast clean-up methods will help your jobs run more smoothly and be less stressful.

Although a catering certificate is not required to operate a food service business, specialized catering business training give you a leg up in the marketplace, and you can gain more respect and trust from clients. Online catering courses are not only faster and more convenient to complete – they cost significantly less.

Woman Caterer wearing chef's hatFood Safety Training & Certification This course prepares food managers for the ANSI-CFP exam.

Find a commercial kitchen for your business. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to prepare foods at home, but check zoning restrictions. Your cooking space will need to pass an inspection by your Department of Health.

Get wholesale catering supplies at Caterer’s Warehouse. Generally, you’ll want to have glassware, flatware, dinnerware, serving dishes, beverage dispensers, condiment supplies, serving pitchers, storage containers, trays, baskets, serving utensils, linens, carts, grills, mobile serving equipment, outdoor heating supplies, table signage and dishwashing equipment. If you are on a limited budget or are working an extra-large event, you can rent equipment and supplies from a local event supply/rental store.

Another huge resource is Mission Restaurant Supply. They sell restaurant supplies, equipment and furniture as well as bar supplies, catering equipment and concession supplies. All products have a rating system, so you can see what other customers think of each item. Mission also offers “web special” pricing.

Take it from Lex Thomas, who started a successful catering and personal chef business herself – you can start your own successful catering business using her experience and advice from other expert caterers in the field.

How to Become a Caterer Business GuideCustomers want to work with professionals who get the job done right – and with start-up guides showing you how to perform and act like a professional – you don’t have to have years of experience to attract a large following of clients.

Find out:

  • Step-by-Step: How and where to get financing, insurance, licenses, permits, supplies, staff, software and more, so that you can run your business effectively with less hassles.
  • Marketing Instructions: Creative yet simple ways to market your business and gain new customers, tips on getting free publicity and how to do a client consultation and look like a pro.
  • Free Samples: How to set prices, prepare estimates and contracts, get deposits, set schedules – plus sample menus, invoices and more!
  • Start here

Catering Business Resources

National Association of Catering Executives
NACE offers members, partners, and the public a variety of rich resources that support, promote and enhance the catering and special events industries.

International Caterers Association
The ICA is a non-profit group that provides education, mentoring and business resources for caterers. They also promote the business of catering to clients, industry members, vendors and the public.

National Restaurant Association
The National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry.