Friday, November 9, 2007

How I Began Catering--or, Am I Crazy!!!???~~~

I have had two people ask me how I got into catering, and so, to save from a LONG email back, I'm going to share it in a post.
I have always, always cooked. I am an oldest child of working parents, and from age 13 on one of my responsibilities was having dinner on the table, or at least begun, when Mom & Dad got home from work. The other was ironing---I am sensational at ironing, but I don't think I want to do that for a second career!!!!
So, my school was the school of "Trial & Error". After I got married, until I went back to work full-time, I would host holiday parties for friends---and I prepared all the food. Sometimes we would have up to 60 people in our house--I cooked for days to feed and entertain these people.
I was also a Blue Bird (Camp Fire) leader, and cooking was one of our strong points!!
Through the years, I would be asked to furnish dinners for people at church (funerals, etc.), for pagent events in town, and for various other things.
After I went back to work full-time I thought my dream job of cooking was over. Not so much! After 10 years at my "day" job, the Wednesday evening hostess for the church retired. I was approached about taking this position, and after talking with my boss, (who knew this was an unfulfilled passion), it was agreed that I could take off on Wednesdays to pursue this. For the past 7 years, I have cooked dinner for 100-150 people each Wednesday, September though May. I plan the menus, do the shopping, and cook the meal. I do have two ladies come in late afternoon and help set up and serve.
Ok, so now I'm working at the school and at the church. One other girl in my office was cooking the school athletic banquets, and people began to approach her about cooking at other events. We attend church together, and she wanted a partner, so viola!!, she & I are catering on week-ends and evenings. After 5 years of working together, she decided this wasn't her cup of tea; plus, her children are nearly out of school (last daughter is a Sr), and her husband travels with work (of course, she wanted to go!!!), and she brought up the thought of getting out. I offered to buy her out, we agreed on a price, and Nov of 2006, I became the sole proprietor of the catering business!!!
Through the years some of my jobs, besides weddings and anniversaries, have been lunches for the Chamber of Commerce monthly (have done this for 4 years), occasional lunches & special events for the Better Business Bureau, receptions for the local banks & city offices, receptions for the Fire Fighters (major city involved), church dinners for other churches, and the Chamber banquet. The most I have prepared for to date is 350.
So, here's where I have ended up!!! Sometimes it's very stressful---such as when the Education Foundation has a Tuesday luncheon, Wednesday church dinner, Chamber luncheon and a reception all in one week!!! Tends to make me busy and cranky!!! The furthest I have traveled for catering has been 1 1/2 hours away--did a dinner wedding reception for 200 PLUS the cake & groom's cake. You guessed it---I have also taken all the Wilton cake courses, and have sold cakes for 5 years!!!!!
Even with all the stress and hurried frenzy, I do love this job---and someday I hope to be doing that ONLY!!! Just a few more things to pay off.
So, that's my story. Maybe not too exciting, but long!!!
Have a good evening!


Inland Empire Girl said...

Very interesting. We have somebody at our school that caters many functions in our community. I hope you can get to the point that it is all you do. How rewarding it must be!

Leah in Iowa said...

Thanks for sharing that story! I love hearing how people "got into the business". I can't imagine the thought and planning that goes into getting a business like that off the ground. Do you have help?

queeniep said...

Yep, girls its true, she juggles everything and when she messes up a receipe, not often, guess who lives across the street and gets it??? yep MOI! Those are not happening as often as they used to, but she did do my son's rehearsal dinner, various cakes and on a birthday, I got my OWN little tiny 3 tier cake. No I did not share it AND, the icing was buttercream. Yep, its a good life living across the street!!!

tommie said...

How neat....It sounds like a dream job!

BTW, a friend of mine that is a caterer started doing a thing called "Wine on Wednesdays"....she has a plate of heavy hors dourves for $15. You got to sample three wines with this plate. She did it with any leftover ingredients from the weekend catering jobs. It is one of the many things I miss from when we lived in Alaska!!

Kari & Kijsa said...

So good to have supportive friends like queeniep.....sounds like you have so much fun with your job!

Have a blessed weekend!
kari and kijsa