The Growing Fields of Catering and Prepared Food

As we all get busier, more and more people turn to catering and prepared food for their special events. This means that in your studies, you shouldn’t feel like you have to limit yourself to studying solely for a career in a restaurant. Growing numbers of newly graduated chefs are striking out on their own, turning to this field for an alternative culinary career. 

Benefits of choosing catering over traditional restaurant work 
While both career choices are fast paced (isn’t that why you chose culinary work?), catering has a different pace than working in a restaurant. A restaurant has fast hours, when people wait in line and the kitchen goes crazy. A catering business has fast days, when everything must be done at once and ready to go when the guests arrive. It involves coordinating all the dishes at one time-and usually with a smaller staff. People who open their own catering businesses often hire their own waiters, or serve the food themselves, so there’s a lot more multi-tasking on the part of the catering staff. And while this may sound quick, catering also involves a lot of downtime. Hours may be spent planning menus with clients, experimenting with new tools and mapping out a day. After all, few catering companies cover special events seven days a week! 

Negatives of making this career choice 
A catering business tends to be less steady than a restaurant. And if you’re starting at the ground level, it’s unlikely you’ll be needed every day. If you start up your own catering business directly out of culinary school, you’ll have to build your own reputation-and you won’t have a storefront to lure people in. You’ll rely on friends and connections for your business, which is guaranteed to be slow at times. And you’ll have to invest in a lot of your own cooking supplies, which can be expensive. 

What to do now 
If you’re in culinary school and are considering working in catering when you complete your degree, you should take the time now to find a job or internship with a catering company. Not only will this provide a prospect for future employment once you finish your coursework, but it will also give you a realistic, inside look at how the catering sector works.