The last time you went out to dinner or had food catered to a party, you probably didn’t put much consideration into just how much goes into getting, preparing, and serving your food. There is an entire ecosystem within the service and hospitality industry; a world unto itself that involves more people that you probably realised at first.
For example, the servers and chefs are easy enough to notice and recognise as part of this system, but what about bartenders? Manufacturers? Managers? All of these people are part of this world, because “catering” covers everything from the local coffee shops to swanky hotel restaurants. It even encompasses school lunchrooms, and there are organisations that hold yearly awards ceremonies (the Cost Sector Catering awards, to name one) with categories like the “Health Award,” the “Social Care Award” and the “Corporate Responsibility Award.”
A quick Google search for “UK Catering” will turn up a directory of thousands of establishments, with names like “Ham and Pickle,” “Moon Spice Catering,” and “The Golden Whisk” just to name a few. As of October 2011, according to the British Hospitality Organisation, there were eighty-six thousand, four hundred people in Westminster alone employed in some aspect of the catering industry. That accounts for roughly seventeen percent of direct employment for that area. Just about two out of every ten employees in both Chelsea and Kensington are employed by hospitality companies. In 2009, there were over one billion meals served by the over sixteen thousand companies in the contract catering industry.
So, now that you’ve an idea of the vastness of the industry, what if you’d like to get started in it? You will definitely need to know where to find things like glassware, bar equipment, professional catering equipment like chafing dishes and serving dishes, and other implements of professional cookware. Do you want to go with a brushed or polished stainless steel for your sinks and silverware? One will cost you more than the other. Are the rods used to weld your stainless steel kitchen sinks the same grade as the rest of the sink? If not, the welds may be weak and cause problems in the future. Which would be a more costly place to get your ceramic from, Schonwald or Revol? There are a thousand details to attend to.
All said and done, it takes a business savvy mind as well as people skills and determination to make it in the catering game, so you’d better be prepared.
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