Cook to Chef: How to Go from Home Baker to Professional Caterer

buffet catering

The catering business is very popular with a wide variety of entrepreneurs. People with interests from event planning to baking have all worked in the catering industry to some level. In some ways, it is an easy industry to break into because there is never a dearth of events.

People love celebrating all kinds of joys and accomplishments, and you may even be able to find a niche event that you become well-known for, which can help you establish a brand.

A passion for service, good food, and an organized mind might seem like all you need to go into catering. But starting a business follows the same rules no matter the industry. Thus, it is good to be sure you know what you’re getting into before getting too serious.

Find Out What You Don’t Know That You Need to Know

There are aspects to catering that you will never have had to consider as a home baker. You will need contacts in the industry who can help you set up your business and make the right networking moves. For example, you may know enough to order food service equipment from a well-known company like eLakeside, but figuring out how much equipment you will need comes from collaborating with the company’s sales staff.

Take all the advice you can get and find a mentor in the industry. It is better to establish a market for your business and assure yourself that you have what it takes before investing your money.

What Kind of Catering do You Want to Do?

If you have been a home baker with great success, you may want to consider specializing in catering smaller events or working with a large catering firm as their bespoke baking arm. You do not have to learn how to cook different types of cuisine. Start small with kids’ birthday parties, baby showers, and similar events where only baked goods are enough for the small number of guests.

cooks preparing platter

If you offer your baking services to an established large catering firm, they will handle all the costs and booking, and you can focus on doing what you love. You can then use this opportunity to learn what you need to know to start growing and launching a larger catering business of your own at some point down the road.

Research Every Aspect of It

Do the research and write down a list of the licenses, registrations, and other documentation you require to run a legal catering service.

As you are handling food, there are regulations that you will need to tightly comply with to be approved as a business. Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Administration bureau to find out all the information you can about which forms you need to fill and tests you need to pass.

A sanitation inspection is a must. You will have to provide inspectors with the equipment and space you intend to use for food preparation. The people you employ and the personal equipment you provide them for wear will also need to pass regulatory inspections. It is best to learn about these different aspects and prepare yourself well to establish your company.

Know-How to Price Your Products and Services

You need to scope out the competition before you begin pricing your food. You may have an idea in mind for the price range of your food and services, but you need to determine if this is in a competitive range.

If your competitors offer similar products and services but at a lower price, the customers will not care whether your recipe is better. Thus, you need to find out how much your competitors are charging for the services and products you plan to offer. Then, form a pricing range based on this, the equipment and raw materials you will need, and labor costs.

Using fresher ingredients, sustainable methods, or organic products are good ways to justify higher costs. People will also pay more if the service you offer aligns with their values, such as if you’re a vegan baker or use vegetarian or cruelty-free vendors.

Catering is not as easy as good caterers may make it seem. The items listed above are only a few of the preparations you will need to make if you’re considering starting a business. You need to prepare a business plan, choose the business type, get insurance, find vendors, hire and train staff, and many other important details.

It is an industry that requires a passion for it. If you have that, then success could simply be waiting for you to make your way towards it.

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