How Do I Become a Catering Manager?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

A catering manager is in charge of designing and managing the catering wing of a restaurant, event rental, or food supply business. In order to become a catering manager, a person may need an equal blend of food and hospitality education, work experience, and passion for a difficult job. Since a catering manager job description may change on a daily basis, the ability to adapt core catering management skills into new settings can often be indispensable.

Often, a catering manager will work with the chefs and food suppliers to craft a variety of catering menus for different events.
Often, a catering manager will work with the chefs and food suppliers to craft a variety of catering menus for different events.

Education is one of the most important steps needed to become a catering manager. Many catering professionals study hospitality, catering, or other related areas through a college or trade school. A certificate in catering management can sometimes be obtained through a catering school or community college, often over a course of two years. While a formal education is not absolutely required to become a catering manager, it can help a professional enter the career pool quickly and with a good measure of preparation.

Catering managers often have experience with food preparation.
Catering managers often have experience with food preparation.

Though education in hospitality and food preparation is often key for a catering manager, it is also important to learn about the business side of catering manager qualifications. Classes in basic finance, accounting, staff management, and business theory can help a person become a catering manager who can be trusted both with the food and the payroll. Putting together customized, delicious, and smooth events is important to creating a great professional reputation, but having the training to ensure that events are profitable and legal will help keep a catering company in business.

Catering managers may oversee food safety, ensuring that workers avoid preparing or handling food in ways that are unsanitary.
Catering managers may oversee food safety, ensuring that workers avoid preparing or handling food in ways that are unsanitary.

Work experience is another critical step necessary to become a catering manager. In order to be efficient and realistic about catering abilities, it is important to understand the business from the inside. Working as a waiter, bartender, or prep chef for a catering company can be a great way to learn about the business from the bottom up, with many opportunities to carefully observe and learn from both successful and disastrous events. It is sometimes possible to become a catering manager through work experience only, though this may take several years.

Performing well in personal interactions, such as interviews, may be the final key that helps a person become a catering manager. Catering professionals need to be able to attract clients, handle stress well, listen carefully. During interviews, employers will often look for personable qualities that will help customers feel safe, welcome, and excited about the food. Since a catering manager is often a visible representation of the company, looking and behaving in a professional manner can also help a newly qualified manager land a great first job.

Catering managers may have different cocktail recipes.
Catering managers may have different cocktail recipes.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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