Many people dream of becoming chefs and would love to put their culinary skills to better use – as well as make money from their passion. The huge number of cookery programmes on television just shows what ordinary people can achieve with a little help.
But how easy is it start a catering business if you don’t get a major breakthrough on TV?
Nowadays, as dining out is far more casual, it can be relatively easy to get started. You could start small by producing cakes, preserves or smoked fish or meat to sell at a farmers’ market or local exhibition. This will give you an idea of whether there is a market for your culinary creations before you invest a lot of time, money and effort into it.
A growing trend is also for pop-up restaurants, which can be held as a one-off event such as a supper club at home, a festival such as Glastonbury or Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival or by borrowing a restaurant when it is closed. If people are prepared to buy your food and provide glowing reports, you may be on to a good thing.
Small local charity events are also good places to get feedback for your food.
You may want to think about providing niche foods, such as smoking fish or meat with an unusual twist or using different flavours. After all, cakes and jams have been the preserve of the Women’s Institute for many years, and it would be difficult to go head to head with them unless you can provide something a little different.
Before You Give Up the Day Job
But what happens after that if you decide you really want to give up the day job to become a caterer? You may need to share premises or look to rent your own space.
Industrial estates could be a good place to start, as you will need somewhere to prepare all your food and drink like post mix syrups. These will be robust enough to meet the high standards required of Draught soft drink suppliers and catering companies, and you may find good deals by buying these from catering specialists like Empire Drinks and Refrigeration
Dealing with the Red Tape
You will also need to think about the bureaucratic side of your business. As well as taxes, you are going to have to comply with food safety regulations and deal with environmental health or trading standards officers.
You will also need training and to organise collection of your waste.
According to the Food Standards Agency, before starting your catering business, you need to get in touch with your local environmental health department to register it.
On top of this there are a whole host of dos and don’ts when it comes to labelling your food. Trading Standards in the UK has put together a list of labelling requirements to help.
It is worth contacting fellow caterers, trading standards and environmental health officers to talk through your project and to get clear guidance.