Caterers provide food and refreshments and, in most cases, the necessary cutlery and related catering equipment for luncheons, wedding receptions and other large gatherings.
Catering managers are responsible for planning, administering and supvervising the organisation's catering operations and services.
More importantly, they often help clients to plan these social gatherings, choose the colour scheme and sometimes a particular theme, set reasonable limits on the guest lists and plan the details of the menus, while making every effort to stay within budget.
Caterers give directions to, and supervise, assistants who prepare and serve the food and refreshments, and they may also be involved with the food preparation themselves.
Caterers plan the arrangement of tables so that guests will not be crowded as they serve themselves (at buffets) or sit down to enjoy their meal. They ensure the tables are well laid and decorated. Caterers may also arrange flowers, candles, other table decorations and organise the hiring of bartenders and entertainment for these gatherings.
Some caterers own and often manage a mobile catering service or dining rooms, cafeterias or restaurants, in hotels, department stores, factories, schools, hospitals and private country clubs.
Catering managers lead teams of chefs and catering assistants. They are responsible for running the day-to-day catering operations and services in restaurants, hotels and resorts. They monitor the quality of the food and service and make sure that their outlets perform well. The most important part of the job is achieving good quality at low cost and maintaining high standards of hygiene and customer satisfaction. Typical activities include:
Travel is not normally part of the working day of a catering manager, apart from those working in location, catering such as the media industry or event catering (e.g. conferences, weddings and sports events). Opportunities to work abroad are possible, including in cruise liners.
Shift work and unsocial long hours are most common in hotels, restaurants and resorts. Catering service operations within business, industry and institutions are more likely to work normal office hours.
Promotion prospects are generally good for those with strong interpersonal skills and a high level of motivation, although much will depend on the individual and the organisation. There are opportunities for self-employment; catering managers can work toward managing their own restaurant.