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the low down on film set catering - Page 2

post #31 of 44

Craft Service is a completely different thing.  At least in Hollywood, it's a lot more cleaning and sweeping up than it is putting food out on the table.  Cooking?  Not really.  Some heating up, some toast.


I never worked on a film crew catering truck; but was on a lot of film and tv crews (mostly as a grip); ate off quite a few catering trucks, God knows; and at the time had already done a fair bit of other catering.


From the outside, it appears quite weird.  You've got quite a bit of help for set up and teardown from the teamsters, but not nearly enough help for cooking and serving especially if there are a lot of extras.  In addition to the two "A" or "B" proteins and all the hot garnish and several cold sides and salads, you'll have to prepare for every service, you'll have to provide adequate vegetarian options. 


You also may be expected to do special meals for a few "above the line" people; occasionally your truck will have to operate like a "roach coach" doing breakfast burritos and other special orders for the construction, grip and lighting crews who show up well ahead of the rest of the company  on early morning calls.  There's (ahem) variable weather, too.  Catering has the propensity to turn into experiments in terror anyway, but film industry catering seems to do it on a more regular basis.  Predictably unpredictable, if you will.


There are hours of waiting around doing very little, followed by hours of enormous overtax.  Maintaining focus can be challenging.


Good luck finding either job.  If you get work, save a lot of your paycheck.  No matter how good you are, it can be a long time between gigs.



Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/9/10 at 10:45am
post #32 of 44

Thanks boar-d-laze.  I am really glad I found this site.  I'm thinking that cooking is the absolute least part of any studio catering.  I was so excited about the prospect but it sounds kinda like some of the worst parts of all my old jobs rolled into one -hee.  Maybe I should swallow my pride and try and work for an established studio caterer  to see if I still would want to move forward with this?

post #33 of 44

Tigerwoman - couldnt have said it better myself...I Film catered  for 10 years in Australia and everything said is just so true....even down here...Definantly a young persons game...and you get sick of the 'we've got no money....but we will on the next job' line...its fun, but a young persons game...

post #34 of 44

hello, what a great forum!  i just found this site today and registered~  looking forward to some good info here!

post #35 of 44

Hello Kid Creole,

     I have had the honor to be on both sides of the coin here. No not a caterer for the movie industry, a background actor and a culinary student, although, I have been a caterer in a business. From the monetarily point of view, I cannot tell you what or how much you'll need to hit it off with your food production company.  Unionization is a better risk, shall I say.  Since you'll pretty much be running a 24 hour diner/restaurant/cafe/tapas bar/appetizer etc..Sleep? I don't know how much you'll get although, I hope you have workers besides a driver/chef, all workers in this industry are very demanding, needy, and argumentative when food is involved.  Gift of gab helps although, when you have a metal flipper in your hand and don't want to burn or mess up the taste of your food, a helper can be a savior.

      Itemize, Itemize, Itemize everything.  Key. Pre-plan, pre-plan, pre-plan everything. And when you think you got it down they will turn you upside down. My advise, conform.  It's a hard job but, someone has to do the job for the movie industry.  In culinary we had a sheet to itemize food. That was all.  Although, if you got a sheet for everything else involved gas to get there, gas for your burners, produce, meat, chicken, fish, and vegan food, etc, and pay for helpers that a lot already,  Suggestion for snacks for crew and actors, Hint: platters of small 2/5 or 1/2 sandwiches you know wrap are there favorite or you could use bread or probably lettuce wraps I'm sure they would love, (all crew and movie cast needs to stay slim to zip around) or cocktail bread would be great idea too. walk around help would give this out platter style. This is by far their favorite way to be served, since it is hard to pull them away from their work. l'm sure you have your own ideas too. Great the more the merrier. I definitely don't want to talk you out of this business, most surely the job has it's advantages. 

     Lastly, I have seen with my own eyes the caterer's go pretty crazy getting all food just right for all.  You know a majority will love your food and a minority just won't, even if they like it a little, Someone will always have something negative to say.   Don't ever take it to heart.  Take the time to ask people what they liked the best and you'll win them over.  Remember this is the movie industry and most of the performers, crew members, and don't forget us, background, usually we are the majority in the movie business, need food to survive our goals. God Bless.

post #36 of 44

Ummmm....The OP has not posted here since 2004........

post #37 of 44
*shrugs* doesn't matter to me, I found this post informative and useful.
And indeed bothsidesofthecoinish. Thank you, Graziano for the effort of posting it. :-)
post #38 of 44

Great thread---I have always been curious about that side of the business---

post #39 of 44

It's fine, so it was quite sometime ago maybe he can share with us now?  This message is for future caterers in the movie business too.....

post #40 of 44

Your very welcome....Today is Saturday don't know where I'll eat today.

post #41 of 44
This is a late post to this thread, but I am new here. I recently joined a motion picture catering company based out of Atlanta, Georgia. I joined this team to be me an asset to the company. I have accomplished this mission. I would like to help me chef drive in more business, yet I do not even know where to start. Our chef is older and set in his ways, yet I love to learn from him. The only way to learn is to be on site. To be on site means more business. I remind you that we are non-unionized caterers. How can I help my chef and our company drive in more business? Locations aren't an issue, just finding the right outlets to bring more business in? Thank you all for any feedback that you can give me.

post #42 of 44
Originally Posted by kuan View Post

Here's the deal. In most catering operations, it requires one man hour to do anywhere from between 12 and 20 covers. So if you have 100 people to feed, it might take 5-8 man hours. That might be tough if you're doing it alone. Keep that in mind.

Also remind yourself that there might be other challenges in feeding so many people out of a roach coach. You might be in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden your freezer may go down or find yourself without water. You just never know. I don't know too much about this kind of stuff so all I can say is, you never know until you try!

@kuan LOL.  I haven't heard the term "Roach Coach" since I worked on the Studio Lot.  Had to laugh when I saw the big guys, working on sets etc., buying burritos at 9:00 AM. The catering truck usually came around three times a day - before 9:00 AM, before Noon, and sometimes mid-afternoon.  I heard he "cleaned up," and retired at 40.  Sometimes, a gal would come into the offices, selling sandwiches out of baskets.  There's a commissary, but sometimes you don't have time to get out for lunch, or drive through the lot and traffic for a quick bite. There was nothing particularly special in the way of food - pretty much coffee, packaged sandwiches, fresh fruit, yogurt etc. Anyway, it's an idea to explore/research, if you'd rather not go the "on location" route.


P.S.  You always knew when the catering truck arrived, because his horn played "La Cucaracha." :lol:

Edited by Cerise - 7/29/15 at 11:19pm
post #43 of 44

I'm going back 40+ yrs. I am curious if there are still hospitality and technical riders? I filled riders as a kid working in the family catering business. The good thing about

them is the more bazaar they got, the more the budget disappeared. It's kind of a myth that the bazaar riders came from the musicians/groups, my most bazaar came from actor/theatre groups.

I'm thinking now a days, personalities might have personal chefs and runners that travel with them.

post #44 of 44
An additional thought/input' in my experience, the only time I,ve seen food served on a set, is at a wrap closed party - after production on the studio lot. Sets are locked. Don't know that there is a majority of shooting going on on location, as the cost would be higher than shooting locally/on the lot. There are many factors to consider.
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