Food inspires passion in many of us. Thus, it’s not a surprise many would want to work in food-related industries like catering.
Caterers typically work for companies that organise special events, such as weddings, birthday celebrations, engagement parties, etc. Therefore, working in this industry means you must communicate well with clients to determine the type of food they prefer, how much they need and how to present these. Of course, you must also have background and knowledge in food preparation.
Although it’s not necessary to have a formal education, having a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts or hospitality management can set you apart from your competitors.
Here’s how to start a career in catering.
- Get a Relevant Qualification
If you want your career path to be in the catering industry, consider acquiring a relevant qualification under your belt. Check with your local university if they offer courses in catering, hospitality, and leisure that can support your application for future job roles in catering. You will also find organisations offering food and beverage certifications to prove that you qualify in certain aspects of food handling and management. Acquiring one or more certifications relating to food management shows you are well-qualified for the catering industry, giving you an edge over others.
Getting a relevant qualification is the best way to advance your career in the food industry. Qualifying will make you more qualified because you have additional training and education. For instance, if you want to work as a catering manager, you must have a food and beverage certification. You can also take up certification programs teaching you how to oversee catering operations, an essential managerial skill.
You can also acquire a food safety and hygiene certification, requiring you to undergo Food Hygiene & Safety Training. Anyone who aims to work in a setting where food is cooked, handled, and prepared should obtain this certification.
- Get Some Experience in Catering
Getting some experience in catering is another sure-fire way to stand out from your competitors in the field. So, take a few hours of your week to work with someone working in catering, perhaps a friend or a relative. You can also look for establishments near you that need more staff during busy periods and see if you can lend a helping hand while acquiring experience in exchange. Having experience in catering can boost your confidence once you begin applying for catering roles.
One of the best ways to develop your food service and catering skills is to work at a restaurant or other food-service establishments. Most employers prefer applicants with a few years of relevant experience, especially for full-time positions. For instance, you can work for a few years as a server in a restaurant, allowing you to gain exposure to the industry.
- Learn about the Rules and Regulations
As already mentioned, those starting a career in catering should look into taking food hygiene and safety courses to ensure they remain compliant. The Food Standards Agency requires those working in the food industry to be aware of the food hygiene and safety standards, which apply to all companies in the food industry, from food factories to retail, restaurants, and catering.
The costs associated with poor food handling can be significant, affecting not only the establishment’s financial aspect but also its reputation. Thus, catering companies would prefer to hire those aware of the rules and regulations in food handling, from storage to preparation, cooking, and serving. Proper standards on food safety are necessary to prevent spoilage and contamination, which are the most common causes of food poisoning.
Under the Food Safety Act, food establishments must ensure the food they prepare will not pose a safety risk to the consumers health. In addition, they must correctly label the food, indicating the ingredients and highlighting the allergens. The regulations require all food establishments, including those in catering, to implement proper food safety management procedures. To increase your chances of getting a career in catering, you must educate yourself on these regulations.
- Pick the Right Career Route for You
The catering industry offers a variety of career routes for you to take based on your qualifications and interests. Knowing the right path to take can help you be more successful in your job search. Perhaps, you can work behind the scenes of a Michelin-starred restaurant or manage the catering of wedding parties and other celebrations. Indeed, many route options are waiting for you in catering. Depending on the career route you wish to take, you can obtain the relevant qualifications to lead you on the right path.
If you love interacting with guests, you can work as a banquet server, where you attend to guests at catering events. Aside from greeting guests and serving food and beverages, your job requires preparing and arranging tables for dining.
You can work as a catering assistant if you prefer to work behind the scenes. You will help kitchen staff with various duties, from preparing food to cleaning the kitchen and auditing food stock. In some cases, catering assistants may also need to unload deliveries, wash dishes, and prepare food ingredients.
- Look into Apprenticeships
An apprenticeship is the best option if you want to work while gaining catering skills and qualifications. Apprenticeships in the catering industry can cover anything, from bakery to butchery. The experiences and skills you can gain from an apprenticeship can lead you towards becoming an Event Assistant or Head Chef, depending on the career route you wish to take. Aside from learning some skills, an apprenticeship will give you hands-on experience and qualifications that can be vital for this industry.
An apprenticeship in the catering industry is a practical and work-based route that can open you up to various career opportunities, where you could manage catering staff or cook for world-renowned events.
You will find organisations offering apprenticeships that allow you to work and study at the same time. While you will spend most of your time performing on-the-job training, you can spend the rest working towards a qualification. Aside from receiving a salary, you will get dedicated study time throughout the week.
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