Are you a very organized person who also has a talent for creating unique, tasty dishes? Do you truly believe you can put those natural gifts to use in a future career? If the answer is yes, then pursuing your Bachelor's degree in catering will definitely have you headed in the right direction. The first thing you need to mark off of your educational checklist: completion of your high school diploma. Once you have your high school diploma in your hand, you will be ready to attend the post-secondary school of your choosing. It is a good idea to check the degree programs this institution offers before you complete the requirements to be admitted.
The food industry employs a large number of individuals in our society today. By having a sound educational plan to follow, you are sure to secure your position in this thriving work community. Although a Bachelor's degree is not a requirement to be able to work in the profession of catering, it will definitely help to open more employment doors and also help you to advance within your place of employment. Keep in mind, advancement in this industry often comes to individuals as they gain experience. The more thoroughly you learn all of the aspects related to a catering company or business, the more likely you are to be able to move up the chain of command where you work.
Many individuals who want to work in the catering world choose a bachelor's degree program related to hospitality management. This degree program typically contains courses that are particularly focused on catering as a profession. Generally speaking, the curriculum presented by many schools in this field of study also has a focus on food service management. Depending on the school you choose to attend you will likely have to complete courses such as marketing, wine and beverage management, and food preparation and presentation. Upon completing this Bachelor's degree program you will be armed with the skills and knowledge needed to operate a business in the restaurant industry.
Some post-secondary schools that do not offer a degree in catering will offer a certification program that an individual can pursue. For instance, a person who is primarily interested in catering as a profession can pursue a bachelor's degree in hospitality management and then complete the certificate program that is more specifically related to catering. This certification program is designed around courses that teach you how to handle accounting, how to efficiently design a menu, and how to properly prepare a variety of foods.
After completing your catering degree you may want to consider seeking a certification through the state you reside in. While many employers do not require this certification, it will help to demonstrate that you have adequate training and are aware of state health regulations as they pertain to food preparation. In order to become certified, individuals generally have to complete a certain number of training hours and successfully pass an exam. ServSafe is a nationally recognized company who tests and monitors the safety of food preparation. Many employers want employees who have been certified as a food preparer through this company.
One of the main goals that most graduates have when you finish with their Bachelor’s Degree in Catering is how to go about building their own catering business. Owning your own business is full of challenges but can be very rewarding. Here is a list of some of the main areas to focus on when starting your own business.
Education/Training – Getting the proper education is the first step in being a successful business owner. Being a caterer involves more than planning, it involves handling the financial and marketing side of your business. Find a school that offers a BA degree that also offers finance and marketing courses.
Niche – Since you can’t be known in the catering world as that business that can do everything it is recommended that you select a niche for your catering business. Would you like to focus in on weddings? How about graduation parties, receptions or reunions? It is easier when you first start your catering business if you select a niche that you are passionate about and dominate your market in that niche. Also don’t bite off too much of an area for your business. Many catering businesses concentrate within a city or a small area. The larger of an area you focus your business in the more money you’ll spend it advertising and the more competition you’ll have.
Relationships – When you first start out your financing might be limited. Owning all of your own equipment or even having your own kitchen might be too expensive. An alternative is to rent out most of the materials that you’ll need and even rent out a kitchen. One of the newest trends are kitchens that offer heavy equipment for industrial use and charge by the hour or day. This allows you to use equipment that you probably couldn’t afford and service larger party sizes.
Marketing – To be a successful catering business you’ll need clients. Early on the best form of advertising is word-of-mouth. Spend time forming relationships with local business owners including: floral shops, photographers, bakeries and even local churches. Once you get enough clients from those relationships you can then consider secondary paid advertising. If you live in a small town you could make it work on word-of-mouth advertising only.
Interview with Tony Jenson, Caterer
Question: How were you first introduced to the catering industry?
My family owned several restaurants growing up so I always was around the hospitality side of the business since a very young age. We would often host events and my family would handle 100% of everything from the set-up, cooking, entertainment, etc. We were known for the place you could host a party and not have to worry about a thing. After college I was a GM for a hotel for 5 years and managed their internal restaurant. I always wanted to own my own business but needed the working capital to get started.
Question: How did you finance your catering business?
I saved while I was a GM which helped. I wanted to finance and own the entire business myself and not take on any partners or a big bank loan. I started small and each year grew my business by adding in new equipment which allowed me to stop renting.
Question: Tell us about the education you received?
In college I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Catering with a minor in hospitality. Even today I continue to go back to school and take short courses on niches that I know very little about. Most recently I took a farm-to-table program as I’ve had several clients that want to do annual parties where everything is sourced locally.
Question: How do you compete in your market?
We focus on several niches which are our strength. We always knew the corporate events arena was something we wanted to focus on. Usually for these events the companies we work with have plenty of money for the events so we can really roll out the red carpet for them. Also because we have done such a great job I for them I would say 90% are repeat customers each year and we receive lots of referral business from the employees that work there. We regularly get calls for birthday and anniversary parties from the corporate events we cater.