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Who was or is a caterer? What is your story

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I have always wondered how many of us have dabbled in the catering business at one time or another.  My wife and I used to own a small catering business called Carousel Catering and we partnered with a friend who owned a deli and did small events. We had a sausage stand at festivals  and in addition we did private partys and we had a lunch business at the local GTE office where she worked. We did upwards of 100 chicken salads a week offering 6 types to choose from.

 

We have hosted 7 wedding rehersal dinners and a wedding reception in our back yard for friends and family the smallest was 50 and hosted a Black Tie Christmas party for up to 80 each year in our home for 19 years where we did 15 appetizers and hired 2 servers and a bartender for charity. 

 

Now that I have displayed my insantity lets hear yours  

post #2 of 16

Now I have started out messing with a few little catering jobs here and here. I used to cook alot for the wife's old Peds office for birthdays and special occasions. I did our daughter wedding, it was for about 75-80ish and the reviews were really good. Now some of the drug reps had came by the wife's office during some of my lunches and told the wife that they would use me if I started catering. We used to have do a Chrismas dinner ot our house that has grown big enough we might have to have it some where this year. But the it all was built around my cooking, smoking. The wife even had one of her old nurse's husband ask when she quit if that disquafied him from the christmas party. Now I do sell a fair amount of sausages and small dishes too. But I have a small hotel that have done a few banquets there too. So I'm leaning towards going out and starting a real catering bussiness. I'm already in the process of building out a small kitchen just down the road from our house into a kitchen for that's what fla. makes you do. Then I'll start the jumping thou hoops that they make me to open a real catering bussiness. I hope the hoops are really low and big cause I'm a fat old guy that can't jump very high now. 

post #3 of 16

None YET... But I am trying to find a commercial kitchen that I can rent by the hour so that I can sell my sausages legitamately without violating my state's food laws. My basement kitchen is fine for Friends and Family, but if I want to be "responsible" I need to do it Indiana's Way...

post #4 of 16

Back in the early '90's I did alot of catering. I rented kitchen space from a local restaurant that was only open for breakfast and lunch. I did alot of weddings, corporate type events. My stuff back then were things like beef wellington, chicken cordon bleu, crepes, pate choux. Some fancy shmancy stuff mostly. I really enjoyed all the little details for setting up tables and fountains and stuff. Did some neat carvings on food. Prissy, girly stuff. Then I grew a "pair". I got out of it when my landlord got greedy and wanted twice the rent after he attended one of my events. And also, the demanding pain in the butt snobs that I was catering for were calling me all hours of the night. No consideration what so ever. So I said see ya. I just quit, said to hell with greedy/needy people and went back into the photography/advertising business. Been there ever since. I do a few things here and there with pulled pork and ribs. That's more my style anyway.

post #5 of 16

I started out catering in dutch ovens- since everything was done on-site my overhead was really low. At that time, several others got into the dutch oven catering gig and it got to the point that you couldn't make a decent profit.  From there I moved into the Personal Chef arena cooking for 4-5 families a month. Several of my clients would hire my services and they would host large holiday parties with 50-75 guests.

 

I have a friend that runs car shows just about every weekend from May through the middle of October.  Some shows are sponsored by fast food joints but most are held in large parking lots. He has asked me to provide BBQ at these events. The draw back of doing this is not knowing how many people are going to be there, so he has been keeping a count of how many sign up for the shows and his wife is going over last years shows so we can get a general idea of overall numbers and make up a plan for the 2011 season. 

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squirrel View Post

Back in the early '90's I did alot of catering. I rented kitchen space from a local restaurant that was only open for breakfast and lunch. I did alot of weddings, corporate type events. My stuff back then were things like beef wellington, chicken cordon bleu, crepes, pate choux. Some fancy shmancy stuff mostly. I really enjoyed all the little details for setting up tables and fountains and stuff. Did some neat carvings on food. Prissy, girly stuff. Then I grew a "pair". I got out of it when my landlord got greedy and wanted twice the rent after he attended one of my events. And also, the demanding pain in the butt snobs that I was catering for were calling me all hours of the night. No consideration what so ever. So I said see ya. I just quit, said to hell with greedy/needy people and went back into the photography/advertising business. Been there ever since. I do a few things here and there with pulled pork and ribs. That's more my style anyway.


I am sure that one of these will most likely ring a bell with you

 Gary with Ice Bowl.jpg

 

We made the icebowl adn that is champagne vinegar, garlic, rosemary and olive oil shrimp
 

post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Princess View Post

None YET... But I am trying to find a commercial kitchen that I can rent by the hour so that I can sell my sausages legitamately without violating my state's food laws. My basement kitchen is fine for Friends and Family, but if I want to be "responsible" I need to do it Indiana's Way...



Check w/ any church in your area that has a commercial kitchen .sometimes you can rent it . I use one here once a year for a (donation) to the church.

post #8 of 16

Nice Gary! Ice bowls are fun to do! That shrimp looks amazing on the skewers like that, woohoo! I would love to do a few fun things like that again, but gosh, I so remember the headaches that go along with it and it makes you kinda not love cooking so much. But for someone like Princess who wants to make her sausages to sell, I think she should go for it. That was a great idea from Eman about checking with local churches. I've never thought of that.

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Come on I know there are more of you out there that do this

post #10 of 16

Well I never catered but I ran a BBQ joint years ago. I did all the meat prep and smoking. The place had about a dozen tables in the dining area and we did a huge take out business. I smoked about 3 cases each of pork, beef ribs and whole chickens a day. We also had some sort of ovens for the stramis, pork and beef roasts for the sammies. everything from stratch except for the beans, even our chili I made. Best boss and best job I ever had.

post #11 of 16

Been cooking professionally for 34 years now.  Started making sausage in Penna Dutch country, German's and Pollocks, at age 12...been doing curing and smoking every since.  Youngest cook for Philadelphia Summer Camp running kitchen at age 16. then a Pizza Shop, donut shop, Italian restaurant, ice cream shop, hoagie shop, burger joint, barbeque place in Albany Georgia, barbeque place in California, and:

 

Catering with The Cowboy and The Rose Catering since 1996.  Black Tie to Blue Jeans, we do it all.

 

Still love to cook interesting things, still love to cook for crowds, still hate restaurant line work!  Hence catering for so long.

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squirrel View Post

..... I just quit, said to hell with greedy/needy people and went back into the photography/advertising business.........



ain't that like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire................started on a fine arts degree (photo) and couldn't stand the fashon industry. i've slid a few plates down the belt before and pushed boxes the wrong way down the center of a one way street but the biggest party that i was a part of was a plated function for bill gates for 6500pp.........that's a crap load of veal chopps.

post #13 of 16

So I have ZERO training.  I learned how to cook because my mother said "if you don't learn you don't eat".  Funny thing is she didn't teach me.  I learned what I could from my Aunt Betty...you know Betty Crocker. 

 

Ruined a lot of food but learned to make some good stuff.  Worked for years to come up with a cheesecake that I liked.  Then low and behold I catered a Wedding that the bride wanted my cheesecake. 

Then the brother in laws wedding. Then it was dinners for small groups, 10-15 people. Then helping cook burgers for the church 500-600. 

Then one day the phone rang and it was a friend on the board of directors at a local Christian school.  it went something like this...

Frank- " Hey Rick, I know you have the best prime rib around and was wondering if you could help out?"

Rick-  "Sure thing whats up?"

F-  "Well the school does this small event every year and they make prime rib and chicken for a small crowd and have an auction.  Our normal cook backed out on us yesterday and we need a replacement. Can you help us?"

R- without thinking..."Sure what do you need me to do?"

F- "Everything, I mean he just left us in a bind? We need it this Saturday."

R- "Ok. No problem, how many people?" 

F- "400"

R- ***gasp*** " Ok, where are we doing this, what is the kitchen like, Do you have any other help?"

F- "Nope, just you so far. Don't know what the kitchen looks like, we just know its at the fairground horse arena."

 

Well, it went well. Blackmailed 6 friends into helping and took two days off to prep. We have done it twice now and were asked again this year.

 

Since then we have done some weddings Christmas Dinners and small events. But the real fun is when my wife posts on Facebook that I am going to fire up the smoker on the weekend. Pork cushions, Pork shoulders, Ribs, ABT's and Chickens. We sell out every time.  I haven't perfected brisket yet. That is the next step.

 

 

The end goal is to stop being a phone guy and just cook what and when I want.  Keep the cost low and sell good food to make people happy.

 

Rick

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokey Mo View Post

So I have ZERO training.  I learned how to cook because my mother said "if you don't learn you don't eat".  Funny thing is she didn't teach me.  I learned what I could from my Aunt Betty...you know Betty Crocker. 

 

Ruined a lot of food but learned to make some good stuff.  Worked for years to come up with a cheesecake that I liked.  Then low and behold I catered a Wedding that the bride wanted my cheesecake. 

Then the brother in laws wedding. Then it was dinners for small groups, 10-15 people. Then helping cook burgers for the church 500-600. 

Then one day the phone rang and it was a friend on the board of directors at a local Christian school.  it went something like this...

Frank- " Hey Rick, I know you have the best prime rib around and was wondering if you could help out?"

Rick-  "Sure thing whats up?"

F-  "Well the school does this small event every year and they make prime rib and chicken for a small crowd and have an auction.  Our normal cook backed out on us yesterday and we need a replacement. Can you help us?"

R- without thinking..."Sure what do you need me to do?"

F- "Everything, I mean he just left us in a bind? We need it this Saturday."

R- "Ok. No problem, how many people?" 

F- "400"

R- ***gasp*** " Ok, where are we doing this, what is the kitchen like, Do you have any other help?"

F- "Nope, just you so far. Don't know what the kitchen looks like, we just know its at the fairground horse arena."

 

Well, it went well. Blackmailed 6 friends into helping and took two days off to prep. We have done it twice now and were asked again this year.

 

Since then we have done some weddings Christmas Dinners and small events. But the real fun is when my wife posts on Facebook that I am going to fire up the smoker on the weekend. Pork cushions, Pork shoulders, Ribs, ABT's and Chickens. We sell out every time.  I haven't perfected brisket yet. That is the next step.

 

 

The end goal is to stop being a phone guy and just cook what and when I want.  Keep the cost low and sell good food to make people happy.

 

Rick


Neat story - that is why I started this thread. There must be a whole lot of us with this kind of experience. Just for the record she was my Aunt Betty first LOL  
 

post #15 of 16

I have a similair story to Smokey Mo.

 

I helped out a friend by making Jambalaya for about 85 people for a graduation party.  At the party 3 people came up to me and asked how much I would charge to do parties for them.  Without thinking, I said expenses plus $100.  Well, they all booked right then and there, because after all....how else can you feed 100 people for $350?  I cooked for those three jobs and had the following thoughts...

 

1.  I am not charging nearly enough.

2.  I like my weekends too much to work every one, especially when football and hunting season come around.

3.  When you are doing a favor for somebody, they are kind and courteous and appreciative.  When you are paid, you are treated like an employee.

 

Now I take an occasional job for friends, or charity.  I usually charge cases of beer instead of money.  If I didn't have this *&%) 40 hour a week job, I think I could really get into it though.  Maybe one day.....

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

I think most of us who did it for a while still have the twinkle in our eye

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