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Creating Your Catering Menu

Catering is a great way to pursue a love of cooking and entertaining without requiring the cost of a permanent establishment. Many chefs have a desire to cook for a living, but they live in an area that simply cannot accommodate a restaurant. Others may want to start a small business that utilizes their cooking skills, but they may not have the initial capital necessary to start a restaurant from the ground up. Catering offers a unique solution to these problems. When you offer your services as a caterer, you bring food to the customers at the establishment of their choice. The initial costs are low, but the benefits and satisfaction are high.

Before you begin offering your catering services to the public, it is important to create a specific catering menu that you will show to prospective clients. Caterers that offer to make whatever the customer wants may feel like they are doing the customer a service. In fact, however, a caterer without a menu may appear unprofessional or unprepared. Give your customers specific choices by creating a set menu from which they can choose.

What is Your Style or Cuisine?

First, determine what your catering style or cuisine may be. Different caterers specialize in different types of food. You may interested in high quality catering with multiple course dinner menus and extravagant dessert options, or you might be more inclined to develop a menu that features casual options such as finger foods, sandwich platters, party platters and appetizers. Some caterers choose a niche cuisine, such as a bbq catering, and then specialize in all the main courses and side dishes that fit that cuisine theme.

What Events will You be Catering?

It's also important to evaluate the types of events that you hope to cater while you are preparing your menu. If, for example, you want to cater children's birthday parties, you won't get a lot of clients if your menu features gourmet dishes and expensive items. On the other hand, if you dream of catering fancy weddings, your menu will have to reflect this.

What is Your Customer's Budget?

When you are creating your menu, you should spend some time evaluating and estimating your customer's budget. Caterers can only survive and thrive if their menus are affordable to the clientele they are trying to attract. If you live in a lower income neighborhood, for example, you will have difficulty finding clients who are willing to pay fifty dollars a plate for your services. Don't limit your creativity, but be reasonable and create affordable options for your customers.

What Ingredients are Available to You?

Finally, you will need to determine which ingredients are realistically available for your catering business. If you live in a rural area and only have access to a local grocery store, a menu that features exotic dishes and caviar garnishes may be unrealistic. Choose dishes that can be prepared using ingredients that you will always have on hand.

The menu for your catering business is the first thing that will attract customers. Spend time creating a varied and customizable menu that is filled with different options and styles to suit different events and customer preferences.