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From restaurants/banquets to off-site catering help

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I have a cafe and have worked in restaurants for many years, I have done lots of catering events but mostly on-site stuff and banquets. I have been getting a lot of requests to branch off from my cafe work to do catering. This would be run next to my cafe but as a different business. I have the space and the build out but would need equipment and small wares etc...

Does anyone have any books or websites etc that would provide a few pointers or equipment/smallware lists?

Most of the books out there deal with a complete newbie and talks about buisness plans, cooking, billing and recipes which I already have a pretty good handle on. What I mostly need some learning on is detailed needs and pointers about transporting and the whole off-site stuff. I know it seems like it would be pretty straight forward but I am a person that likes to "read" about things when I am planning.

Can anyone help?

Thanks!
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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post #2 of 13
Quick answer would be to invest in a few cambros....

Great as they are, cambos are really just giant sweat boxes. Fantastic for liquids, sauced entrees, and starches, but downright miserable for anything crispy or colourfull (steamed veg.)

Best thing to do is look at your catering menu and work backwards. Then there's the "other stuff"...

Chafing dishes, 6' tables, linens and props--and space to store all this in.

Coffee stuff: On site brewers, cups, saucers, d/w racks to store them and wash them. If you have your own chinaware you can make some decent coin with coffee/tea service.

Delivery vehicle. Unless you're a mechanic and have time, don't get a P.O.S. because if you're late, you'll have to eat it AND listen to the complaints AND deal with lost business. And splurge and get a heavy rubber mat( the kind made from recycled tires) for the floor, nothing will slide.

Bread trays. The kind you see at Costco. All your cold stuff gets stacked on these and they get stacked 4-5 high in your van. Don't even think about shelves for the van--that's for plumbers.

Really good trolleys--don't go cheap on this, no words to describe the feeling watching a half a buffet slide in slo-mo towards you as the crappy trolley wheels hit a piece of dirt of get stuck in an elevator or door threshold.

Infrastructure.

As you probably know by now,the ventilation system is the costliest infrastructure. Design a canopy 4-6 feet longer than you need. As you grow, you can always pick up equipment cheap and fast, but if you don't have the hood for it, you'll pay for it in upgrades and downtime.

Dishwasher. It really makes sense to have your own chinaware/glassware. You usually have this stuff paid for by the second or third time you use it, and everything else is gravy. You need a good hi-temp d/w, decent dishtables and plenty of d/w racks (for storage of glasses and cups)

Storage space

Refrigeration. You need to factor in space for beverages and speed racks( I call them tray-trolleys). 3 or 4 reach-ins won't cut it.

hope this helps......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #3 of 13
Once you figure out everything, for me the most important tool is a standard check list.. of everything you need to bring from salmon to sanitizer, its the little things like sugar for coffee I can forget...Once you leave the comfort of your own kitchen, theres no turning back ...ooooooooooooops I forgot the serving utensils or the sqeeze bottles, sanitizer, towels, and or permits if needed.....

I love off-site catering, it really can help a bussiness to grow... Good luck..

GO RED SOX
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
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When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
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post #4 of 13
Really good trolleys--don't go cheap on this, no words to describe the feeling watching a half a buffet slide in slo-mo towards you as the crappy trolley wheels hit a piece of dirt of get stuck in an elevator or door threshold.


Oh man.....I could feel it happening as I read this.

I have a limited amount of glassware and dishes......it's just easier to rent. No messing with hauling that shtuff....to and back dirty......but then I'm fairly small. I've got some linens but again decided to go through a rental company for anything but normal buffet linens.

A tool bag is deriger......duct tape, T pins, masking tape, toothpicks, blow torch, squirt bottle, loads of ziplocs in various sizes, disposable rags, tongs, timer, hotpads, pairing knife or bird'sbeak, bread knife, my boning knife.
sunglasses and quarters.


Bottled water for staff.

I really cut down on chafer use, especially for small parties.....that would be writing menus that doesn't require them.

Cambros....love them. It just expands what you can do offsite. One BBQ and a whole lot of folks.....CAMBRO!, One reg oven and prime rib for 100....Cambro! Wheels.....wheels are really important.

Props are important. For local meals I use canning jars, old scales, gallon jars of morels (gets alot of attention), signage....your signage if appropriate, wild flowers.....
Gotta go make dinner.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #5 of 13
Trolleys, O my God are those ever important. Here is a funny off-site experience..Was not so funny during the time..It was about fifteen years ago, was twenty years old it was in the first week of my company doing off-site catering....Don't know if you know any thing about Boston ( GO RED SOX ) there is a place called Beacon Hill its were the who's who live right behind the state house...Absulutely no parking, we had to park down the hill a good distance away....So, no big deal it happens around there all the time..We load the Trolley and start pushing them up Beacon hill..It is known for being the windiest part of Boston, do i have to continue..Ya, the wind blew the cart out of my hands flew about five feet, stuffed Filets and Sea Bass, soup, starch and vegetable all blowing down the street.. You could say they never called me back for another event...LOL Now i can laugh, but while that was taken place, I was out of my mind.. :bounce:I could not look more like this bouncy guy in the middle of Beacon Hill trying to make a name for myself, ooooops wrong name.... Lesson learned , the hard way...

I went out that day and bought four of the best trolleys money could buy, LOL
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
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When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
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post #6 of 13
I recommend getting a toolbox and filling it up with some of your must haves.

Our toolbox includes: scissors, flicker lighter, matches, bandaids, ribbon, pins, pens, permanent marker, sterno snuffer, emergency sternos, gloves, business cards & holder, menus, foil, travel dish soap, screwdriver, degreaser bottle, etc.

I also highly recommend the check list. We call ours the pull list. I have it prefilled with everything we could ever need. Then for each catering we highlight in yellow everything we need to pull for that particular event, then as it is pulled we highlight over the yellow in a different color.

Sorry, I don't have any books to recommend since I was trained by my previous supervisor who started up the catering division for our company.
post #7 of 13
and 50% of this stuff in the bag too....scissors, flicker lighter, matches, bandaids, ribbon, pins, pens, permanent marker, sterno snuffer, emergency sternos, gloves, business cards & holder, menus, foil, travel dish soap, screwdriver, degreaser bottle, etc.

BUSINESS CARDS!!!!
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #8 of 13

lists

Can I just repeat :BUSINESS CARDS!!!! How many times have I not had them when asked?

Hung out on Beacon Hill through high school - I can just picture it! Glad you can laugh now! I would still be crying
post #9 of 13
I second the rubber mat on the floor and you can't beat a tool box for you stuff. I use the blue Rubbermaid bins to keep my essentials organizes and from flying all over the place. I have one that holds my espresso & coffee brewer, another for napkins/paper cups, and so on. If I need something quickly, I know which bin to look in and it make me stay organized when I pack up at the end.

If you don't use a local printer for your business cards, consider Overnight Prints. I've been giving them business for years and it has always been trouble free and great value.
post #10 of 13
Gotta love the bins.....I really like the ones that have the interlocking lids, can't tell you how often I shuffle through the bins to find the right lid.

box of rags & towels

sunglasses

Copies of the MENU to tape up for staff....duh, I know the menu inside and out but they don't. Plate/table/room drawings of setup.

Extra bowties, cus sure as shootin, one of the waitstaff has forgotten theirs.

I've got aprons with my logos on the pockets, and try to remember to give my cards to the staff so that when someone asks they can just pop them a card then and there.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #11 of 13

Does anyone know of resources that one could go to to find catering forms?  Such as pull lists, beo's...

post #12 of 13

Study logistics.  Build boxes ti handle equipment. Everything on wheels, Use rentals when possible this way they pick up and transport not you, Have a truck with a power lift or long ramp. Always have an alternate plan just in case. Hire good help., and give everyone a specific task that they are responsible for.  And get plenty of rest, and if your good, do not be afraid to charge.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #13 of 13

Checklists and then checklists for your checklists...

 

We do a lot of remote catering and once we are there there is no "popping to the shop".  We have what we call a chef box which gets filled after every function.  It has matches, lighter, gloves, hand sanitiser, tongs, spoons, kitchen spoons, slotted spoons, chafing fuel, garbage bags, business cards, emergency phone numbers and loads of other bits and bobs.

 

We make a running sheet with contact numbers, names, address, breakdown of the arrival and service times, google maps, special diets and any other information.

 

There is so much to think about which it is really important to GET THOSE CHECKLISTS DONE!

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