Qualities of a Successful Caterer

by Bruce Mattel and The Culinary Institute of America

  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Time-management skills
  • The ability to multitask
  • A friendly, hospitable personality
  • The ability to manage stress
  • An extensive knowledge of ingredients
  • A high level of written and verbal communication skills
  • Natural leadership and motivational skills
  • A knowledge of social and religious cultures and customs
  • Excellent networking skills
  • Proficiency in basic accounting principles
  • Basic mechanical skills
  • Good negotiating skills
  • Quick thinking and problem-solving skills

Some of these qualifications could be a natural part of your personality or education; you might have to learn others. Or you could hire a person or company to handle a part of the business that is not your strong suit. Here are several examples:

  • If your culinary creativity soars, but your spelling and grammar are not the best, contract with a high school English teacher or a professional food writer to proofread your letters, contracts, and menus on a case-by-case basis. You may have the best-looking and best-tasting food in your city, but if your contracts, letters, and menus have spelling mistakes, that tells your customers that you aren't top-notch.
  • If you're a talented chef with a sense of style but you don't have a clue about accounting practices, take a noncredit adult education class at your local community college, hire an accountant, or shadow a restaurant or catering manager to see how the book work is done.
  • If your food and business skills are terrific but your style sense suffers, either concentrate on an area of catering in which this doesn't matter as much—institutional or outdoor barbecue catering—or hire an assistant or catering manager with a sense of style.
  • If your food sense, style, and business skills are all great, but you can't fix anything, offer a retainer to a full-time (more expensive) or retired (less expensive) handyman or refrigerator and appliance repairperson to be on call. Then pay the hourly rate for any service call. For a major function, include the cost of this person's services as an insurance policy against culinary disaster. If you can't get the blowtorch to work and you need to make crème brûlée for three hundred, his or her services will be worth the extra money—especially if you have already figured the cost into your per person price.

The bottom line: a successful caterer has all the bases covered.

  • from:
  • A Guide to Managing a Successful Business Operation
  • by Bruce Mattel and The Culinary Institute of America
  • Wiley 2008
  • Hardcover, 368 pages, $45.00
  • ISBN-10: 076455798X
  • ISBN 978-0-7645-5798-9
  • Information provided by the publisher.

Buy Catering



Read the full chapter in PDF format on the Wiley.com site.

Culinary School Information
Chef Books

This page created October 2008

The Global Gourmet
The Global Gourmet®
Main Page


Irish Recipes for
St. Patrick's Day

   Clip to Evernote

Bookmark and Share


Twitter: @KateHeyhoe

Search this site:

Advanced Search
Recent Searches


Kate's Global Kitchen
Kate's Books
Cookbook Profiles
Global Destinations
Holiday & Party Recipes
I Love Desserts
On Wine

Caffeine and You Caffeine and You
cooking kids Cooking with Kids
new green basics New Green Basics

Conversions, Charts
   & Substitutions

About the
Global Gourmet®
   Contact Info
   Privacy Statement

Recent Cookbooks

Cooking Italian
175 Home Recipes
4-Hour Chef
Bakery Cookbook
Barefoot Contessa
Bouchon Bakery
Burma: Rivers of Flavor
Cake Mix Doctor
Comfort Food
Craft of Coffee
Crazy Sexy Kitchen
Daily Cookie
Fifty Shades Chicken
French Slow Cooker
Frontera - Rick Bayless
Gluten-Free Quick & Easy
Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Kitchen Science
Lidia's Favorite Recipes
Make-Ahead and Freeze
Modern Milkshakes
Modernist Cuisine
Mystic Cookbook
Paleo Slow Cooking
Picky Palate
Pop Bakery
Practical Paleo
Quick Family Cookbook
Sensational Cookies
Smitten Kitchen
Southern Living Recipes
Sweet Life in Paris
Trader Joe's Vegetarian
True Food
Whole Larder

More Cookbooks


Kitchen & Home


Copyright © 1994-2013,
Forkmedia LLC



cat toysCatnip Toys

Kitchen & Home