Never before have we seen an upset to event planning like what occurred in 2020 and 2021. However, as we get things under control and people start to feel safe about gathering again, we’re going to see a major resurgence in things like weddings, concerts, and more.
What does that mean for anyone interested in breaking into the food industry? It means that this is the perfect time to start a catering business.
Starting a catering business is no small feat. Not only do you need to hire great servers and cooks but you also have to stock up on the proper catering equipment.
We’re here to make that part a little bit easier. Read on as we talk about the five basic types of tools you need to run your catering business.
1. Meal Preparation Tools
A lot of magic has to happen behind the scenes before you can arrive at an event and serve food and drinks. The first step is prepping all of the ingredients you need to fulfill your next order.
Meal preparation tools include things like high-quality knife sets, cutting boards, butcher blocks, and mandolines. You’re also going to want to get air-tight storage containers for any bulk dry goods you rely on, like flour and sugar.
If you’re working with a limited budget, make sure that you’re only buying the preparation tools you know you’ll need. For example, if you won’t be doing any baking from scratch, you probably won’t need that expensive stand mixer.
When selecting your meal preparation tools, don’t skimp out on quality. It won’t save you money to buy a cheap set of knives if you have to replace them in a few short months.
2. Cooking Tools
What comes after meal prep? Cooking, of course!
Most catering services work primarily from a commercial kitchen. As food industry professionals, many of your appliances will need to meet certain standards. For example, you’ll need to install things like commercial ovens and industrial refrigerators in your catering kitchen.
In addition to building up your commercial kitchen, you may want to consider having portable cooking tools. Food stations like crepe stations or grilled cheese stations are becoming a popular choice in the event-planning industry and it could increase your revenue to take advantage of this trend. For portable cooking purposes, you may want to consider buying induction cookers, portable grills, and outdoor burners.
3. Transportation Tools
Most of the time, you’re going to be transporting ready-made food from your kitchen to the event, itself. To make that work seamlessly, you’re going to need the right transportation tools that keep your food at the proper temperature.
One of the most important tools a caterer can have is the insulated food pan or gastronorm pan. These pans tend to come in large sets of varying-sized pans, making it easy to store and transport everything from appetizers to sides to the main course. These pans are designed specifically to keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
Other transportation tools include racks or rolling shelves, outdoor coolers, and insulated food totes or boxes. Many catering companies also invest in a few dollies or collapsing flat carts so that the staff doesn’t have to lug around (and potentially drop) heavy transportation gear.
4. Serving Tools
Transporting your catered food is only the first step toward feeding the attendees of your event. Whether you’re doing a buffet-style dinner or passed appetizers and served meals, you’re going to need a variety of serving tools, preferably made of silver and glass.
The specific tools you need will vary based on the types of meals you offer, but you can generally expect to use catering service trays and standing trays, catering carts, serving utensils, and food pans that are a little nicer than your gastronorms. You may also need chafers and chafer fuel for food that needs to be served extra hot.
Most catering businesses do provide the plates, bowls, glasses, and utensils needed to eat dinner, but this is optional. If you do decide to go this route, consider investing in a few different sets so that clients have options to choose from.
Your catering staff will also require the right get-up to serve your food in style. Oftentimes, a simple combination of black slacks and a black button-down will do, but you may also want to provide your staff with aprons to help keep their clothing spick and span. (Not to mention the apron helps to identify staff from guests.)
5. Tables and Seating
Now it’s time to talk about the final type of equipment that you don’t have provide, but that many catering businesses do: tables and chairs. Nowadays, people are gravitating toward non-traditional venues (think parks, barns, and fields) that don’t come with the necessary furniture. If you can fill that void by providing tables and chairs, you can widen your pool of potential clients.
Even if you don’t offer tables and chairs, you may want to invest in linens. Most people do expect to rent their tablecloths and cloth napkins from the caterer. If you don’t want to provide these, yourself, consider partnering with another company that does do things like table, chair, and linen rental.
Get Your Catering Business Off the Ground With the Right Tools
As planned events ramp back up, now is the time to get your catering business off the ground. Use our guide to catering equipment to make sure that you start off on the right foot and can start booking clients ASAP.
Looking for more ways to support your new catering business? Take a look at our business content to get insider news, tips on everything from marketing to funding, and beyond.