Starting a Catering Business

This article gives you an overview of the catering business. Learn more about the ins and outs of the catering profession.

The demand for a good catering service is constant which means caterers are needed almost everyday regardless of the season.

catering business

Even to this writing, somewhere out there is a company function or a family event or a social gathering taking place. Trust that whenever occasions such as these transpire, you will find a catering team busily running about the venue.

As a caterer, your main responsibility is to plan, propose and prepare a menu consistent with your client’s preference. You need to put careful thought to this. There are several things to consider when preparing a menu. You should see to it that the food fits the occasion. Usually, events are themed so you need to be creative with your food selection. To keep up with the trend, you need to arm yourself with knowledge. Read, read, read! There are tons of resources available from cookbooks to the internet to magazines.

Another thing to consider is the client’s budget. Naturally, you should work within it. Don’t cook up something that would eat away your profit. It’s easy to get carried away at first. Those new to the business are often compelled to impress their clients to a fault. They go overboard at times, spending way too much on the ingredients and use more than what is required. Don’t get the impression that you need to pull a quick one on your client. You don’t but you do have to be prudent and practical. You must learn the art of preparing food that taste good and looks good but in reality is relatively cheap to make.

Begin at the beginning

The first thing you need to accomplish before putting up your catering business is to find out what are the regulations mandated by your local Health Department. Make sure you acquire all the requisite permits and inspection certificates. If you don’t brace yourself for headaches to come.

Look for an industrial sized kitchen that will fit your requirement. Then if the size of your operation demands it, hire the services of a competent chef. Next, plan a set of menus. Take note, you will be using these menus constantly so avoid dishes that make use of hard to find or seasonal ingredients.

Choose a market niche for your business. This will make life easier for you because it will taper the factors you have to consider. Having a market niche allows you to focus your attention on a refined set of preferences. Remember, the market is vast and varied and you can’t have them all especially if you are just starting out.

Finally, generate clients for your business. Devise a marketing strategy and plan on which mode of advertising you wish to use. You can make avail of the tried and tested no to mention inexpensive “word-of-mouth” advertising. To do this, you have to make it known (initially in the community where you belong to) that you’re in business. You may also want to promote your business through the internet via a website.


  • VERNON ASAGBA said on August 16, 2009
    I would like more info. on home based catering business and on catering trailer. I'm two weeks from graduation on a catering course taken at penn foster and i would like to work for myself.
  • chris said on March 4, 2010
    New England area. I'm looking to start a catering business in New England that is a "tailgate" based catering company. We want to take the bbq and food prep out of the homeowners hands and let them enjoy the game while we do all the work. Getting a ticket to any of the local sports teams in New England is tough to do so we want to bring the tailgate party to them. Trying to figure out where to start. thanks
  • Serena Pillay said on August 7, 2012
    Hi there, please forward me as much information as possible with regards to this. i am looking to start a catering business in Gauteng Johannesburg South Africa
  • Luyanda Sigenu said on January 21, 2013
    I am looking for more information on starting a catering business. I stay in Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa, I need to know how can I get more clients and how do I reach their expectations.
  • Romona said on January 24, 2013
    I opened a catering company in Johannesburg, South Africa & would like more information on how I can better market the business.
  • Bridget said on February 16, 2013
    Hi, I am based in Johannesburg and want to start a catering company. I just want to know if I can get financial help, I already have most equipments.
  • TERESA HERNANDEZ said on March 13, 2013
    Hi I'm planning to open a catering company. I presently own a wedding venue and already offer catering to my costumers, but would like to extend it to the rest of the city. I live in Rosenberg Texas. What equipment would I need?. Please let me know how to price the food and also any ideas about how much a chef should earn?
  • gloria said on March 16, 2013
    hi, i would like to start a home based catering in Johannesburg and bake, please help me, where can i start.
  • Omar Simba Bilal said on May 11, 2013
    My location is Dar es salaam in Tanzania ,i would to start a catering business supplying lunch to some company help me where i can start.
  • hillary said on March 2, 2014
    Is there any body in south africa who do a Booze or Catering business who need a worker or a partner. Plz contact me on my E-mail or call +2348184003152
  • Andiswa said on June 26, 2014
    Hi there, I am Andiswa and would like to start a catering business in Johannesburg for small events like kiddies party's, baby showers etc. I would also like to supply platters and lunches to companies. Where and how do I start?
  • Elzaan said on July 2, 2014
    Hi. I would like to start a catering business in Durban and need as much Info as possible! Please help!
  • Thandeka said on July 15, 2014
    I like to open my own catering company. i will to food to big events, big weddings and many more. i want to know what do i really need to open the company and where will i go to register my company, how mach it cost. can any one call me 076 4454 340 or email me on
  • khanyisile dlamini said on August 14, 2014
    Afternoon, my name is khanyi, I'm very passionate about cooking, I have just registered my company, I need help putting my services on the map
  • siviwe melane said on August 26, 2014
    Morning, I would like to know more on how to start up my own catering company including registration. my name is siviwe and I live in east london, eastern cape. Thank you
  • gloria said on February 26, 2016
    Morning, I would like to start a home based catering company in Johannesburg. Please help me with more information.
  • Mmamotlatsi Moeketsi said on March 24, 2016
    Good day. My name is Mmamotlatsi, I need guidelines to starting a catering business. I'm based in Pretoria, Gauteng.
  • milz said on June 7, 2016
    good day I'm interested in catering business, how do I get started, please send me more information, I'm in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa. thank you looking forward
  • vuvu said on July 6, 2016
    Hi, i'm in elliotdake i'm interested in starting a catering business, can you please help me with. information and your inputs on how to start
  • Mahlatse Hlapa said on June 27, 2017
    I wanna start a catering business. I will appreciated all the info and guides on what to do and where to start. I'm based in Pretoria.


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