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Outside Catering

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi all

I have a small catering company in the South East of England that does outside catering on a cold platter service, and was hoping to draw on some of the more experienced in the field with regard to advertising and warm foods.

Firstly where is the best place to advertise and what kind of promotions have you done in the past that you found to be successful?

I have read book upon book on starting my own catering business but would like as many tips as I can get as nothing is as valuble as free info from those in the know!

What I was hoping to do though was to be able to extend my menu to hot foods but I am not sure of how one does that as I don't know how to keep the food warm :cry:

I was told by a fellow caterer that most functions are done on site in the client/function venues kitchen. Is this true? I would imagine that the foods would be par cooked at home and then finished off on site or is it done from scratch?

Any help you can give me on this would be much appreciated!:confused:
post #2 of 9
Many people will use products similar to the ones by this company Cambro Manufacturing Company to transport and setup outdoor food service.

Such products can be used for hot or cold food.

Some of the inserts can be used for use in a chafing pan. Some are only for cold foods.
post #3 of 9
'''I was told by a fellow caterer that most functions are done on site in the client/function venues kitchen. Is this true? I would imagine that the foods would be par cooked at home and then finished off on site or is it done from scratch?'''
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This is true, however there are exceptions . Some clients prefer you do not cook in their homes. As someone stated above Cambro's , keep hot cabinets are very good, but not cheap. They will however last forever.
As far as advertising the best is word of mouth. Keep a scrapbook of all your work, take pictures, ask every client if they are happy and will they send you a note or letter to that effect?
There is a young lady on this site her handle is MUSHROOM GIRL she has a catering business. I hope she see's this and chimes in. Good luck in your endeavors.
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post #4 of 9
outside venues.....each is different, every client's home is different.
Depending on your business: Personal Cheffing, in house parties......prep and cook in a customer's home. Either filling their fridge for multiple meals of catering a dinner for x amount, normally under 12.

Obviously if you are making 7 course fine dining, you'll have to prep elsewhere it takes longer than you want to be in their home. which means a certified inspected kitchen.....

If you are catering meals offsite for say a wedding, prep is done elsewhere and brought in......depending on what the facilities have and the amount of time you have prior to the event.....some sites will let you on premise only 2 hours prior to the event. Most venues have at least an oven, many have 2 or a commercial convection one. Some have refrigeration....don't count on it being empty. Some have ice makers. Some have commercial dishwashers.....


Knowing what is available at the designated site helps you plan menus. KISS..aka keep it simple.......Having enough table or counter space to assemble platters, having baking sheets that fit the ovens, having hot pads etc......

So, the last wedding reception I catered was for 40 guests, it was 1 hour away in a state park conference center with an open "home type" kitchen...
Large empty fridge, dbl oven, 6 burner stove, 2 triple sinks, weird microwave....no hot water.

Menu:
Appetizers. Mushroom Caps with morel duxelle
Apple slices with trout and dillweed aioli
Brie with Passion Cranberry Goo

*one hot....mushroom caps
2 cold.....
1 of those to assemble

Buffet Dinner:
Chicken Mirabelle
Green Salad
Vegetable Platter
rolls/butter

Chicken came in cold and marinated, I have a few electric roasters that will crank to 500* and simmer fairly low. They have made life so much easier.
Cooked off the chicken in 1.5 hours.

Salad, greens were washed, craisins bagged, pecans toasted, sugar snaps cut, vinagrette made.....large pebble bowl for mixing at site.

Veg....roasted, blanched, dressed with EVO, garlic,herbs etc......reheated the potatoes, squash, beans, left the tomatoes and peppers at room temp.
Potatoes in the oven, rest quickly nuked.

Rolls, room temp....baked them that AM


So in this case there was a kitchen and electricity. I spent 7 years in the middle of a street with no electricity, no running water....cooking at a farmer's market. You get creative, you learn not to set menus that don't rely on last minute baking unless you're at a space with it, you learn how to make do with great locally raised food.....the less you do the better. Good olive oil, salt, herbs, vinager......


More and more, dinners have bite size desserts .

Cambros....I've got um, have not pulled the monster out for a long time. It's a $3000 gem. Can fit full sheet pans. Made catering a prime rib wedding possible. Small Oven + cambro= hot dinner for 150. Cambros will maintain temperature. Just keep the things shut. Hot/Cold beverages stay cold....for days....not that you'd really want that, just saying I know it's possible.

I ordered some disposable boxes that maintain temp, have not tried them yet.

If you can offsite cater you can essentially work in almost any other cooking environment. It's like commando cooking.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #5 of 9
If you can offsite cater you can essentially work in almost any other cooking environment. It's like commando cooking. ""
__________________
cooking with all your senses.....
Wedding Catering St. Louis Barbecue, Events Chanterelle Catering

You said it Mushroom girl A stove? who needs a stove? Heat it on the manifold of the truck.
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post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info - you guys are great!:bounce:

At the moment I am advertising with Google Adwords, and mail drops - what is the most successful advertising you have found? Don't worry I'm in a tiny little town in the UK so no competition for your clients LOL!:crazy:
post #7 of 9
Teach classes.....either at a cooking school or in home private classes
Demo dishes at your farmer's market

Start looking at who's holding parties (non profits, weddings, graduations, etc) streamline your direct contact with whomever makes those decisions.


Thanks Ed.

Not used the manafold of a truck but I have cooked shiitake risotto for 200 on a camp stove in the middle of the woods.:p
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #8 of 9
Dawn, as you design your own promotional materials take a tip from shroom's site.

Notice the constant repetition of her particular strengths: customizing menues to meet the needs of the client and using fresh, locally grown foodstuffs.

You cannot stress your strengths enough. Decide on what makes you special, as a caterer, and repeat that message over and over again.

One of the basic axioms of any marketing program: Tell them what you're going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you just told them.

Another tip: If you do not, as yet, have your own website run, do not walk, to get one done. In today's world you almost cannot have a successful service business without one.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 9
My webguy is working on swapping out "stock pix" and we're looking into hooking in a blog. I've got 24 weeks x 7 years of farmer market newsletters that are pretty HOT topics these days. Oct 12, NYT Sun Food Addition are just reiterated local foods shtuff that I'd written from 2000 on....

One of the coolest things I've recently discovered is that a long time farmer friend who sells to about 6 restaurants is grossing $70k on one acre, raising "organically" (not certified but he's the real deal) 8.5-9 months of the year. 25,000 pounds of gorgeous high quality produce. UM.....that so goes against all the big farm reterrict (sp) that's been spewing forth from the big monied guys for the past 30+ something years. That could be easily set up in innercity vacant lots....of course Bob's soil is gorgeous and it'll take a while to create the live soil he's nurtured. But it's doable, it's being done.

Dang I hate the obnoxious big boy attitude, just ticks me off.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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