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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Creating a Wow Factor With The Hottest Trends in Catering and Food Presentation Styles

Innovative styles of food presentation and catering take center stage.

Food Presentation Gets a Modern Facelift

Attention Caterers and Restaurant Owners: Did you know that the catering industry is now a $1.7 billion/year business? Given these National Association of Catering Executives statistics, it is no wonder that new methods of catering and diversified styles of food presentation are on the rise. In this dynamic, competitive milieu, you have a unique opportunity to rise to top of your foodservice game. Stay up-to-date with the latest service styles and keep your ear to the ground – and your eyes on the prize – for food presentation sensations that are turning heads in 2019.

Creating a Wow Factor

The success of your business, as always, depends in large part upon your understanding of the costs, efficiencies, and logistics of planning a catered affair and how to orchestrate each event to resounding success. How you plate your menu offerings and decorate your tables are another known success strategy in the biz.

In recent years, however, food presentation has experienced a modern-day facelift, and it is creating a ‘wow factor’ that has now become the point of differentiation between services. Standing out from the crowd by presenting classic dishes in novel ways or by concocting tomorrow’s next pièce de résistance is the recipe for culinary stardom, as well as a key to customer satisfaction.

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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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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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How a Legal Catering Contract Can Keep You and Your Client Safe and Protected

How to Write a Contract to Protect Your Catering Business

Effective Catering Contracting

Catering is a challenging business. Running a successful and busy catering business is akin to juggling and keeping a lot of balls in the air: finding and keeping dependable labor; contending with ever-rising food costs; and fighting the competition in a marketplace that is close to saturated. We gave you advice about starting a catering business and we hope you’re making a go of it. Now we’re going to explore an often overlooked area of catering – the contract, without which every job can become way more trouble than it’s worth.

Clients Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Caterers have to be great cooks, shrewd business people, skilled diplomats, and sympathetic listeners, as they deal with clients who are faced with what is usually a major event in their lives. Most of these people will be reasonable and pleasant clients who are good to work with and who are happy with the result. However, along the way, you may also meet difficult and indecisive customers who cancel events with no warning; are argumentative and penny-pinching; who fight about every dime and nickel when it comes time to paying the bill; who are demanding, who expect an instant response whenever they try to contact you; and capricious patrons who change plans on a whim. These types of customers are part of the challenge of running a busy catering company, which is why caterers need two things to succeed: a thick skin and an iron-clad written contract.

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Understand Veganism to Cater a Fabulous Plant-Based Event

Catering Events for Vegans Can Enhance Your Reputation

Keep Vegan Guests in Mind

As a caterer, you’ve probably found yourself having to prepare food for all types of clients, including vegetarians, glucose- and lactose-intolerant customers, those with nut allergies, and clients who adhere to sugar-free or low-fat diets. Veganism is just one more fad in a long line of trends for which you must bend over backwards to please your customers. Special requests are part of the business, and to make it in the dog-eat-dog catering arena you need to be flexible and know how to accede – with grace and generosity – to a range of requirements (even those that lead to extra work). However, when you do go that extra mile, it’s worth it, as your reputation as an accommodating and professional caterer will precede you.

What is Veganism?

Veganism isn’t a new concept, but it has been receiving more and more attention lately. The term “vegan” was coined in 1944 by a group of vegetarians who then formed the Vegan Society. In addition to not eating meat (like vegetarians), vegans choose not to consume dairy, eggs or any other products of animal origin. According to the Vegan Society website, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.” The term vegan was created by combining the first and last letters of the word vegetarian.

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Use These Experiential Catering Ideas to Create a Memorable Event

Experiential Catering Can Transform an Event into Theater

Hop Aboard the Experiential Catering Train

In today’s modern world of catering, it’s a mad race to find the one (or two or three) original approaches that will put you ahead of the pack. In this age of constant change, it is less about the food and drink that you serve and more about latching onto the latest trends or – better yet – predicting what the next great trend will be. With that in mind, you should be keeping an eye on the steady rise of the experiential catering trend. Because, in addition to serving your guests the finest culinary options, you now have to incorporate them into an overall experience that will leave a lasting impression on everyone present.

The Experience is Everything

Driven by a sense of exploration, or perhaps a dire fear of missing out, Americans today are always on the lookout for new experiences. Restaurants are offering novel, fun and memorable meals through pop-up venues and entertainment-themed locales. At the same time, while restaurants are offering unique experiences through their food and beverage options, venues that typically place experience over food and drink, such as sporting events and music festivals, are upgrading their menus to complement the experience. In other words, the experiential dining trend is on the rise and caterers have to join the fray or be left behind.

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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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Tips for Opening a Catering Business and Making it a Reality

Starting a Catering Business is a Multi-Step Process

So… You Want to Open a Catering Business

Even if your muffins are divine and your tempura chicken is to die for, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got what it takes to run a successful catering company. By following a step-by-step, pre-launch plan, however, you can determine in advance how likely it is that you’ll be able to pursue your dream of starting your catering business and making it work.

Research is Your First Step

The first step in launching a catering company is to assess who else is offering catering in your area. Check out your competitors’ menus, their list of services, prices, and – if possible – their customer base. Visit their website and see if you can quickly find their unique selling points. Successful caterers sell more than just food; they also sell the reasons that customers buy food from them instead of somewhere else. To be a successful caterer, you’ll need to promote convenience, affordability, unique menus, and a specific style; food is just part of what you’ll be offering.

Find a Niche for Your Catering Business

Chances are you’re going to start your business by offering “off-premises catering”: serving food at a location away from your food production facility. There are three major markets for off-premises caterers:

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