Tricks of the Trade: Catering

By Alec Horvath
June 20, 2016

[fusion_text]There’s all different kinds of catered events, from barbecues to festivals to weddings. And as a member of a catering staff, you’ll probably have to fulfill a variety of roles tailored to each individual event. It’s a job that often requires ad-hoc solutions and quick thinking; no two events are the same. But if you like variety in your work—or maybe you like being a fly on the wall at cool events—then catering might be something to check out.

Find your “guy.” Hustling for tips at a catered event can be trickier than at a restaurant because the guests typically aren’t paying for their food and drinks. So if you’re serving tables at a wedding, you need to work a little bit harder. Find your “guy” (or “gal”)—that one guest who will slip you money if you bring them their drinks for the rest of the night. Once you find them (often, they’ll find you) keep hitting ‘em. People will tip you surprisingly well when you help them skip the line at the open bar!

Passing Hor d’oeuvres. Passing can be awkward. You don’t want to intrude on peoples conversations; you don’t want to interrupt. A simple “would you like an hor d’oeuvres?” is usually enough. Make sure you know exactly what it is that you’re passing out (especially if there’s a chance of an allergy), and don’t be afraid to return to the kitchen with a full tray if your hor d’oeuvres don’t “sell”—it probably means that people simply didn’t like them.

Setting up a buffet. You may be tasked with setting up a buffet or other type of station at a catered event. These will each have different requirements depending on space, type of food, and concept, but there’s some general rules that you can keep in mind. You want to set up the station with the guest in mind—where will they start? Where will they end? You want to avoid “traffic jams,” so make sure the buffet line starts in the place that people will intuitively flock to. You can indicate this by, for example, placing the plates and/or dinnerware where you want the line to begin, and human nature will do the rest.

The truck. Often, you or your team will have to load up the truck and go off premises for an event. Loading a truck can be a bit like a game of Tetris. It rewards people who have good spatial intelligence, or who understand shapes. Just make sure that nothing is likely to fall or spill in transit, and try to group like things with like things so that everyone can find stuff when they need it. When the event is winding down, start loading the truck with whatever is no longer needed so that there’s less to break down when the party is over.





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