A Glimpse of the Action Behind Outdoor Catering Services
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A Glimpse of the Action Behind Outdoor Catering Services

25 February 2014

Outdoor catering involves immense creativity, planning, coordination and organizational skills. For a caterer,  every outdoor event is a big day with the entire team loading equipment, supplies, foodstuff and then lots of preparation at the event venue.

An extensive packing list governs every service order. The catering team takes time to double check every item including linen, glass, chafing dishes, trays, pots, pans and silverware. Even tiny items like aluminum foil, cling film and garbage bags are accounted for.

Shuttling the supplies will usually be with a 14-foot truck moving the equipment and supplies from the company premises to the event site. Heavy items move first in the order of ovens, fryers, dishwashers and hot boxes followed by pots, glassware, chinaware, pans, tables and serving utencils. Be sure that everything is on board before the food is loaded.


At the catering site the transported supplies are unloaded by the crew. If the site has cooking facilities the crew unloads the cooking equipment such as pots, pans and serving dishes etc and the food right away. Tables and chairs are set up precisely according to the floor plan.

Setting up is the task of the client services representative or coordinator who plans the event. On certain occasions, the catering firm also takes that job and does front of house setup in conjunction with other vendors accompanied by a detailed schedule, floor plan and layout. The plan ensures that the florist will know where to place arrangements and where the musicians can position their instruments.

 Catering Party Setup

Kitchen Set Up

If an outdoor event lacks cooking facilities the crew sets up a make shift kitchen immediately. The tent is divided where one section will be used for presentation and the other for cooking.  The crew also sets up the ovens and hotboxes insulated with steel booths and racks capable of holding 40 to 50 sheet pans of food. The kitchen staff makes use of sterno cups comprising of inflammable gel to keep the hot boxes warm.

catering plates


If the food is buffet style the crew will set up stations of serving platters and chafing dishes. The kitchen staff prepares the food and buffet attendants and runners make sure the stations are always stocked. While sterno cups keep the hot food hot,  dry ice keeps desserts cool.

The Service

In outdoor catering  the service required depends on the type of function. For example cocktail buffet staffing will be something like below:

  • 1 Coordinator per event
  • 1 Supervisor per event
  • 1 Waiter for 30 – 40 people
  • 1 Bartender for 75 people
  • 1 Kitchen Manager per buffet station

Catering staff

The Clean-up

Once the function is over, it is cleaning up time. The team breaks down the equipment and tables and start the packing up. The crew brings out the original packaging and verifies the list for the return trip.

At the end of the action, the message is out loud and clear; that is:  Outdoor Catering Services are exciting and a venture of passion, creativity and excellence.

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