How to start a catering business

Reap some culinary and business rewards with our guide to starting and running a catering service

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What is a catering business?

We’ve all been to wedding receptions, business meetings or hospitality events, and the one thing they have in common, apart from the buzz of small talk, is the array of food that always accompanies them.

While most people will simply ponder the varying culinary standards on offer, the more entrepreneurial of you may have wondered what business opportunities lie beneath the silver serving trays.

The catering at these events is more often than not provided by outside caterers. The catering company usually prepares the food at its premises and delivers it to the event when needed. An outside caterer will sometimes also provide drinks, crockery, cutlery and glassware, decorations and serving staff.

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Broadly speaking there tends to be two sizes of company involved in catering in the UK, according to Miles Quest of the British Hospitality Association (BHA).

“There are some big contractors who deal with the major events, such as Ascot for example. But locally, you have a whole string of independent caterers who serve the local market.”

As an independent there are two main sectors you can target – private and corporate events. The former category will consist of family occasions such as weddings, birthday parties, dinner parties and funerals. Whereas serving the corporate world you would be more likely to provide food for business breakfasts, business lunches, board meetings and evening receptions. Some caterers specialise in one or the other, while others try to cover both.

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.


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