Hospitality is probably the most diverse but specialized industry in the world. It is certainly one of the largest, employing millions of people in a bewildering array of jobs around the globe. Sectors range from the glamorous five-star resort to the less fashionable, but arguably more specialized, institutional areas such as hospitals, industrial outfits, schools and colleges. Yet of these many different sectors, catering has to be the most challenging.
The food service industry encompasses those places, institutions and companies that provide meals eaten away from home. This industry includes restaurants, schools and hospital cafeterias, catering operations, and many other formats, including ‘on-premises’ and ‘off-premises’ caterings.
Catering is a multifaceted segment of the food service industry. There is a niche for all types of catering businesses within the segment of catering. The food service industry is divided into three general classifications: commercial segment, noncommercial segment, and military segment. Catering management may be defined as the task of planning, organizing, controlling and executing. Each activity influences the preparation and delivery of food, beverage, and related services at a competitive, yet profitable price. These activities work together to meet and exceed the customer’s perception of value for his money.
Types of catering
There are two main types of catering on-premises and off premises catering that may be a concern to a large and small caterer. On-premise catering for any function - banquet, reception, or event - that is held on the physical premises of the establishment or facility that is organizing/sponsoring the function. On-premise catering differs from off-premise catering, whereby the function takes place in a remote location, such as a client’s home, a park, an art gallery, or even a parking lot, and the staff, food, and decor must be transported to that location. Off-premise catering often involves producing food at a central kitchen, with delivery to and service provided at the client’s location. Part or all of the production of food may be executed or finished at the location of the event.
1 On-Premise Catering
All of the required functions and services that the caterers execute are done exclusively at their own facility. For instance, a caterer within a hotel or banquet hall will prepare and cater all of the requirements without taking any service or food outside the facility. Many restaurants have specialized rooms on-premise to cater to the private-party niche. A restaurant may have a layout strategically designed with three separate dining rooms attached to a centralized commercial food production kitchen. These separate dining rooms are available at the same time to support the restaurant’s operation and for reservation and overflow seating. In addition, any of the three dining rooms may be contracted out for private-event celebrations and may require their own specialized service and menu options. Other examples of on-premise catering include hospital catering, school, University/ college catering.
2 Off-Premise Catering
Off-premise catering is serving food at a location away from the caterer’s food production facility. One example of a food production facility is a freestanding commissary, which is a kitchen facility used exclusively for the preparation of foods to be served at other locations. Other examples of production facilities include, but are not limited to, hotel, restaurant, and club kitchens. In most cases there is no existing kitchen facility at the location where the food is served. Caterers provide single-event food service, but not all caterers are created equal. They generally fall into one of three categories:
Party food caterers
Hot buffet caterers
full buffet caterers