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newbie need advice

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi there,
I am presently attending culinary school by next year I will be finishing my trainning.I am planning to start a home based catering bussiness. Should I accept a job first in a foodservice industry to get the feel of the actual catering bussiness.I would like to start small, like cooking for someone elses house or maybe catered for small events, mainly social events. Has anyone ever started their bussiness right away while in school or after graduating ?
Thank so much
post #2 of 9
MJ, personal cooking for someone takes some expertice as does off site catering.
Personal cooking requires that you have a repatoire that lets you adapt to someones food wants, knowing how to sell yourself and set up a biz takes research.....being able to land clients is another aspect. So, assiting someone who personal chefs is a viable option. Check out the PCS in your neck of the woods to see how you can train with them.
Off site catering is moving a restaurant to a place that is not necessarily set up for serving food to the public. It takes alot of experience. The last reception I catered was for 200 in a glass blowing factory with no kitchen, a smallish area to plate and a monstrous hall with a buffet....there was no stove, ref, oven....I used BBQ's, cambros and a very large hot pot....the water was across the room and the bar equipment leaked.
I had 12 staff. Small parties are difficult to make money from....by the time you purchase food and spend time shopping and prepping it has eaten away any return IMHO.
While in school it's important for you to work in various venues so you can get a sense of the possibilities that would work for you.
Good luck.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #3 of 9


I would say work for someone first as you can see how they run it, what equipment you need the most of, and the least of. You might learn tricks that they use. Even if you do know how to make best food in the world do you know right now how your going to transport enough for 300 people? How much are you going to pay the help per event? Who’s washing the dishes. You see you think that last one is easy….. But from a 75 person event you have atleast 300 dishes that will take you no less than 2-3 hours to do and will be heavy as sin. Cooking for catering is easy. Moving everything is the hard part. Also transporting it can be a fun ordeal. Just an idea.
post #4 of 9
Oh, and cooking from home is normally illegal unless you convert and get it licensed as a commercial kitchen.... First step there if you own a home is to check with local zoning to see if its allowed.
post #5 of 9
that's why God made rental companies....cus they wash the dishes and they majically show up clean and delivered at every event....except the 75 forks that they forgot the last time, but hey the company ran them out and everyone had at least one.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #6 of 9
Hmm... What kind of cost is involved. I know every place will have different prices but whats the going rate in your area? The main company I worked with owned all there own dishes. In a way I guess it keeps costs down depending on the company. Also ask around about linen companies. I have seen many be unreliable so be sure to find a good one.
post #7 of 9
Hello to everyone!! My first post here at Cheftalk so I had better get this right. :)

I own all crockery and cutlery in my catering business. This did not happen overnight, I bought a few dozen when I could afford it but now, I charge the client just a little less than it would cost to hire them in. That way, we both win. I get to make more money, the client gets to save a little. Obviously I have to wear some breakages and losses, but overall it has been a very viable thing to do.
Am about to get some white chair covers made so that clients can choose to hire them from myself at less cost. This also means that any unsightly chair can be made to look gorgeous with a few embellishments if needed. Currently, clients can pay up to $8 per chair cover. :(

Now, :blush: it seems I have gotten slightly off the subject here. MJ I agree with what has already been said here. You definitely do need to get some work experience under your belt before tackling a business on your own. Apart from the issues mentioned, the cost of setting up can be horrendous. There is advertising to be considered also. There is a great site you could visit for ideas on setting up a business that will help when the time comes.
Hope this turns out OK! I am still finding my way around.

post #8 of 9
Hi there,
in response to your starting your own home based catering business, i tried that when i first got out of culinary school. I spent a lot of money buying supplies and catering equipment but i hadn't done much research on the legal insurance and licensing. It was an expensive process that i wasn't financially ready to take on. I personally suggest working for a catering company for a few years and then venturing out on your own. It has been a great learning experience and i have learned and tried out lots of different things on their dollar. Good Luck, Amy
post #9 of 9
A long time ago, I got out of community college with an AAS in graphic arts. For a while I worked as a graphic artist at the local newspaper. Then I started freelancing, as I worked the 5pm-1am shift. A lot of print shops hired me in those days because I had a Mac ($4,000), a 300 dpi laser printer ($3,000) and a typesetting program called PageMaker ($800). It was an slightly expensive business to get into, but this is the period just before Windows made PC's popular (1987-1990).
I was able to get about $50 for a basic typeset page. A page printed from my laser printer was $3 an most were glad to pay it. I had a $10,000 credit card debt from this business in 1987. By 1988 it was paid off. I was very lucky. By 1990 I needed to update software, computer, printer. I was looking at about $6,000 and my old stuff had a used value of about $1,500. So I took the plunge again with the plastic, for about 1/2 the cost the first time around. In 1991 I was nearly paid off, but my rates were about 1/3 less than 1988, if I wanted to work. I was really squeezed. Everyone and his brother was a typesetter. The economy was in rough shape. I had given up my job at the newspaper in 1989, because business was great. Now I was scrambling for little jobs; $50 here, $50 there. I did some direct mail pieces for a sign shop. By 1992 I was working as a production artist at that shop. I didn't even own a computer anymore. I eventually got another in 1994. I was just glad to have a job and benefits. In time I prospered with that job, in ways never possible with my own business. Sadly, in 2002, after ten happy years, this company went out of business very rapidly. I was laid off the second week of January. They told me that they might rehire in March or April. Their phone was disconnected and store vacated by early February.
The economy is very soft. The costs of starting any business are much more than most can handle. I was lucky and had a profitable business on a small budget for about 2.5 years. They were good times, but I was very lucky and without competition in a much stronger economy. As the economy softened in the early 1990's and the competition became greater, I got squeezed out pretty fast.
I wouldn't want to start any business today. Too risky. Too competitive. Weak economy. Too much capital required.
I'm content working for someone else.
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