Did you know that having a culinary background could help prepare you for a career in catering? It's true, catering is a popular option for cooks who want to combine their cooking and hospitality skills to serve clients at various events. If you've got solid cooking skills and an outgoing personality with great attention to detail and the ability to multitask, catering could be the right career path for you.

What exactly is a caterer?

Within the large umbrella of the foodservice industry, a caterer is a person who prepares, cooks, arranges and serves food at various locations outside of a restaurant environment. Caterers are often employed for special events like wedding receptions, corporate luncheons and conferences as well as formal parties.

Hiring a caterer allows a party planner or host to serve good food without all the work involved in shopping, cooking, serving and cleaning up after large groups of people. Some catering professionals work for themselves; others work for event planning companies that offer catering as part of their planning service. Some caterers also cook at restaurants and do catering to supplement their income while others work full-time in the catering field.

Catering is a very personable profession and involves the "front of house" aspects of customer service that traditional kitchen jobs like line cook don't have to address. If working closely with clients and interacting with a variety of personalities is as much a passion as cooking, catering could be the right professional fit for you.

Depending on the catering company, the food may either be prepared on-site or remotely. The caterer is responsible, along with their support staff, to either serve the food to individual tables or maintain a self-serve buffet.

What education does a caterer need?

While a degree is not required to work in catering, many successful caterers have culinary training from a 2 or 4-year university. Other caterers bring restaurant experience along with vocational training in food preparation. If you're interested in culinary training you can find programs from schools like The International Culinary Schools at the Art Institute and the Culinary Institute of America.

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