An Insider’s Update on Outdoor Catering

Discover the latest ideas in outdoor catering strategies to meet demand.

Great news for caterers! With the popularity of cafes, casual restaurants, and outdoor dining on the rise, there could not be a better time to be in the foodservice business. Whether you already work in the industry, are embarking on a new career as a professional caterer, or whether you want to expand your restaurant operation by going mobile, now is the time to be in-the-know and learn how you can capitalize on the opportunities to seize the market.

The Proliferation of Catering Venues

If you are looking for a lucrative opportunity in the competitive food-and-beverage space, this is it! Over the past few years, the range of events being catered has exploded, including adult and children’s birthday parties, sweet 16 celebrations, corporate catering, sporting events, art exhibits, music festivals, street food events, beach parties, and more. Moreover, in addition to craving new culinary experiences, consumers are hungry for unusual locations that stand out from the crowd, leave an indelible memory, and that are Instagrammable to boot. While terraces, patios, gardens, and parks remain popular outdoor catering picks, some of the new kids on the block include the likes of famous art museums, landmark historical buildings, private yachts, and even the zoo!

Catering Headline News

To give you a taste for what’s been cooking on the grand-scale, elite side of catering, check out the following headline news items. Then sink your teeth into some more practical, down-to-earth tools and strategies that you can use to promote your small business or local catering company.

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How To Tailor Your Food Truck Service To Cater A Variety of Wedding Styles

Last updated on January 28th, 2019

Wedding food trucks offer exciting options - way beyond the traditional.

How to Cater a Food Truck Wedding

Food truck wedding catering is all the rage, presenting a lucrative business opportunity for caterers and catering services who know the how’s, what’s, and where’s of the biz and how to sell it. With a growing number of brides and grooms seeking fresh options on their big day that go beyond tradition and that create an unforgettable experience for their guests, food truck wedding catering has become a modern-day phenomenon with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Remain Competitive with Your Food Truck

If you have decided to branch into this line of business, you will be competing in what is now a highly sought-after food industry service. To help you stand out from the crowd and gain an edge over the competition, it will be critical to know how to showcase your wedding food truck and what it offers. This guide for foodservice professionals will do just that, providing you with key selling points to present to customers who approach you to plan and host their upcoming nuptials.

Using Food Trucks to Help Tie the Knot

There are multiple reasons why food truck wedding catering is trending strong. Some factors contributing to its popularity include the ability to be mobile, the flexible and customizable menu selection, the relatively cheap price, and the allure of a ‘gourmet meal on wheels.’ Couples wishing to express their individuality or to be creative with their wedding day menus are likewise drawn to this novel alternative to traditional catering.

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How To Adapt Your Menu To Include Plant-Based Foods

How adding plant-based foods to your menu will grow sales as demand increases.

Plant-Based Foods Take the Market by Storm

Plant-based food sales continue to skyrocket as consumers clamor for more nutritious options that protect their health and the health of the environment. With sales of meat declining and the popularity of meat alternatives growing, restaurants big and small, as well as major corporations and leading food brands, are rising to the occasion and adding entire lines of plant-based products to their menus. Read on for practical and tasty ideas on how to satisfy your customers’ cravings and cash in on this lucrative opportunity.

New in Plant-Based Alternatives

While the trend towards vegan, low-calorie, low-fat, non-dairy foods has been around for a while, the plant-based food market has recently picked up steam. On top of being strictly vegetarian, gluten-free, and lactose-free, new additions to this group include protein-friendly alternatives such as grass-fed beef, natural chicken, sustainable salmon, quinoa, non-genetically modified (non-GMO) tofu, and other new products which fall under the categories of meat and dairy alternatives.

Depending on the type of restaurant or food establishment you manage, consider expanding your lunch or dinner offerings with some of the latest plant-based selections appearing in restaurant menus across the industry:

  • Wheat, Rice, and Corn Tortillas
  • Tofu Crepes
  • Black Bean Salad, Chickpea Salad, Corn Salad
  • Sweet Potato Ravioli
  • Cornmeal-Coated Oyster Mushrooms
  • Gluten-Free Zucchini Shepherd’s Pie
  • Chips, Dips, Salsas, and Guacamoles

As for pizza lovers, you can tantalize their taste buds and attract their business with palate-pleasing gluten-free pizza topped with meat-free pepperoni. In doing so, your restaurant will in fact be following in the footsteps of some of the biggest names in the biz who now offer vegan pizza alternatives. These include Dominos, Papa John, Pizza Hut, and more.

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Develop a Shrewd Marketing Strategy to Highlight Your Catering Company

Learn about Five Key Ways to Market Your Catering Business

Five Key Ways to Market Your Catering Business

Let’s start with an understatement – catering is a competitive business. In reality, it’s among the most competitive industries that one can enter. Starting a catering business means going head to head with dozens of other caterers in your area (and many who are farther afield), all of whom are trying to get a slice of the catering pie. As we’ve said before, in order to stand out from the crowd, you have to put in hours of effort not only to make your food and service rise to the top of the crowded field, but to market your business so that your name and reputation will precede you. Here, then, are some ideas that can help you sell your business in the best and most effective way possible.

1. Get Up Close and Personal

A good cater needs to be a people person, and making a personal connection is a vital way to keep your name active and well known. Networking in a hands-on way – and not only through the virtual relationships of social media – is of vital importance. The trick is to stay in touch with everyone who can help you and your business – wedding planners, managers of local country clubs, bridal-shop owners, etc. Putting yourself “out there” is an essential component of your marketing strategy in a business where shyness and reticence is a serious hindrance to success.

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Put the Spotlight on Your Buffet Table and Draw Attention to Your Food

Add Dimension and Style to Your Catered Buffet to Stay Current

Fabulous Buffet Design Ideas

Many catering trends come and go, but some are here to stay. Buffets, for instance, never go out of style and they are, simply put, every caterer’s bread-and-butter. In a recent survey, the International Caterer’s Association (ICA) reported that over 40% of caterers said that their most popular service style was the buffet. But because buffets have become so popular and ubiquitous, caterers have to be as creative as possible when designing their buffet tables. Even if your food is fabulous, if you don’t present it with flair and panache, it won’t get the attention it deserves. If you view the buffet as not just an efficient way to feed people but also as a great opportunity to have some fun decorating, you’ll be more likely to get the positive response and feedback you want. Just think of the food as the star of the show (but don’t tell the guest of honor) and view the table as a stage. With the right set design, lighting, backdrop, and decoration, you’ll have a sure hit on your hands!

Leveling: How to Stand Out in a Crowded Catering Field

After you’ve agreed on a menu with your client, think about how you want to display the fabulous offerings. Interesting trays, platters, bowls, and vessels will upgrade your buffet from ordinary to extraordinary. Make sure to use display items in different shapes and different heights. One of the easiest ways to create interest at your next catered buffet is to use risers and platforms of varying heights. A buffet, say many leading caterers, is more attractive and exciting if guests’ eyes are drawn to different levels. A dynamic presentation captures the imagination and, almost magically, causes guests to gravitate to the buffet table.

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The Revival of Pâté is a Welcome Trend for Caterers and Guests Alike

Pâté: The Catering Trend that is Making a Splash

Pâté: The Next Best Thing is Here

When it comes to catering trends, the phrase, “what goes around comes around,” is particularly meaningful and relevant. The culinary pendulum is in constant swing and what goes out of style one year is bound to become the trend of the moment a decade or two later. Wait long enough and tried-and-true buffet staples, like pâté, start showing up again at catered events, with a few twists and turns that make them a dish so right for our times. The classic French favorite, pâté, as well as various modern interpretations, are now a trendy item that can showcase a caterer’s skills.

What is Pâté?

Pâté (pronounced pah-TAY) is French for “pie,” but we tend to refer to anything that is ground into a spreadable topping for crackers, or molded into a terrine, as pâté. It is often served baked in a crust (en croûte) but it is easier to simply serve the pâté mounded in a decorative way, so that guests can easily partake.

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Learn About the Hottest Wedding Food Trends of 2018

Keep on Top of Wedding Food Trends to Stay Current

Wedding Food Trends for 2018

With 2017 drawing to a close and 2018 upon us, it’s time to explore the upcoming trends in wedding food. Successful caterers and event planners have to be at least one step ahead of the crowd when it comes to trends since before you know it, the next best thing will become the trend that everybody must have. The last thing you want is to be left behind when it comes to keeping up with the latest wedding culinary ideas and innovations.

Weddings Are Multi-Faceted Events

Wedding trends cover all the elements of a special event – from décor to flowers to attire; but, as a caterer you want to focus on food trends because that’s what affects your business. Food trends cover the entire meal – from hors d’oeuvres for the reception, to drinks at the bar… onto the main meal and, of course, the dessert buffet. Wedding food trends tend to sweep the industry like a brushfire, and only those who don’t have their fingers on the pulse will get caught unawares.

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Why the Right Chafing Dish is Essential to Every Catered Buffet

Quality Chafing Dishes: A Must for All Caterers

All About Chafing Dishes

A chafing dish (from the French word, chauffer, which means “to make warm”) is a portable and essential piece of equipment in the food industry. For catering businesses, the chafing dish is the foundation of any food presentation. They are also essential in restaurants that specialize in buffets with hot dishes. Chafing dishes (a.k.a. chafers) are made to keep food warm – from two to six hours – and they are the most affordable and convenient way to heat your delicious buffet items.

What is a Chafing Dish?

A chafing dish is a multi-layered apparatus: it uses chafing fuel to heat a large, shallow pan of water, which in turn heats a pan of food above it. The food in the pan stays hot, and the indirect heat, along with the water, keeps it from scorching or drying out. Electric chafers and induction chafers are other types of chafing dishes that don’t use fuel, but still use water as a medium to transfer heat, and are great for permanent buffets (like in restaurants).

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More Advice for Launching a Successful Catering Business

More Essential Points About Starting Your Catering Business

Opening a Catering Business – Part II

Earlier, we discussed the first steps you should undertake before launching a new catering business. These steps included researching the local competition, finding a niche for your business, identifying potential customers, and writing a business plan. In addition, we discussed contacting your state’s occupation licensing authorities and health department to find out exactly what you need (the National Federation of Independent Businesses website can help you in that regard). With those preliminary actions under your belt, you’re ready to move on to the next and more enjoyable stages: planning your enterprise.

Creating a Catering Menu with Pricing

Creating a catering menu will help you figure out how much kitchen space you’ll need, what appliances you should buy and install, and how much you can expect to bring in financially. Base the menu on your specialties and what your targeted market niche wants on its plate. Price the items so that you stay competitive but still make a profit.

Pricing, always a challenge, is especially difficult for those just starting out. In general, prices are determined by the time it takes to prepare the dish, plus the cost of the ingredients, plus the profit margin you’re aiming for. Keeping your menu a manageable size, with foods you’re comfortable cooking and items that are made with ingredients you know you can source, are your best options for creating a realistic menu with fair pricing.

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Help Your Client Choose Between DIY and Professional Event Planning

DIY vs Professional Event Planning: How to Help Your Client Decide

Help Your Client Choose Between DIY and Professional Event Planning

As a caterer/event planner you have to balance your skills as a chef with your business acumen. Booking new business is obviously an important aspect of developing your company, but it’s particularly complicated in today’s event industry where costs are rising and clients are often looking for ways to cut back on expenses. Do-it-yourself (DIY) events are becoming a popular route for budget-conscious people, but it’s up to the business-savvy party planner to convince potential clients that some things are better left to the professionals.

Let the Client Arrive at the Right Decision

In the Harvard Business Review, author Michael Schrage explains how you can guide clients in the direction of a smart decision by allowing them to persuade themselves. Professional service firms, he says, should look for ways not just to better communicate the value of their work, but to give people the tools that let them sell themselves on the firm’s value. When a potential client is on the fence regarding professional services vs DIY, the hard sell is not the way to go. Don’t shower the customer with ominous warnings and bleak scenarios. Present all the angles of the upcoming event, along with something as simple as a colorful, well-organized, self-explanatory cost-comparison chart, and watch your clients draw the right conclusions by themselves.

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