By Lillian Connors
The equipment you need and the number of items will depend on the type of business you’re looking to operate. A business that specializes in catering for schools will have a different setup from a company catering for parties, where a variety of serving dishes is required. On the other hand, if you’re looking to sell large quantities of cupcakes at local fairs, you’ll need a large number of molds. However, there are some basic items that no catering business can survive without.
Pans, skillets and pots
Although the Teflon versus ceramics versus good old stainless steel debate is not a topic of this article, a silent tip from a pro is to go stainless steel all the way. There’s nothing to scratch off if you get a bit too enthusiastic with the steel wool. Still, whatever your preference, you’ll need frypans, woks, saucepans, crockpots, stock pots, oven trays, etc.
Serving and storage dishes
It goes without saying that you’ll need something to store your culinary delicacies in, and then something to serve them on. The best advice given here is to keep the cost in mind and browse commercial kitchen stores and local supermarkets for the best deals. If you’re catering to on-site events, keep in mind to get some products that help with dishing out plates and collecting them back. A plate stacker is an indispensable addition to your fleet of trolleys which you can use for transporting your crockery for washing.
Replenishable and expendable items
Full-scale catering events require that you not only prepare the food, but to serve it as well. For this reason, when you go out to buy your crockery, cutlery and serviettes, make sure you choose the type that’s easy to replenish when the breakages happen. After a few too many chardonnays, the guests’ caution – and plates drop easily. Your best course of action here is to go with plain, easily replaced items.
Cooktop and oven
If you want to limit yourself to catering to small events and running a business out of your home kitchen, you may be able to close the tab using your current appliances. However, as your business expands, your capacities will need to expand, too. Especially if you move into larger premises, a thoroughbred cooktop like this Bosch dual fuel range is a fine example of a pro-rated item that will see you through even most demanding jobs. With 11 specialized cooking modes and genuine European convection for even baking on multiple racks, such a range is a valuable addition to any catering kitchen.
Most people who haven’t been involved in the catering trade have never heard of this cooking receptacle designed especially for producing large-scale meals. A Bratt pan can braise, sear, boil, steam, poach, roast, and fry, featuring either electric or manual tilting. This piece of equipment might cost you a pretty penny, so make sure you shop around for the best deal.
Unlike a quality cooktop and Bratt pan, a bain-marie is an affordable piece of equipment, but despite the low price, you need to make sure you’re getting a business-grade reliable machine. Shop around and make sure you’re getting the size you need for the price you’re ready to pay. Keeping the food hot for catering events is as important as the preparation itself.
Blenders, mixers, juicers and all those pesky countertop appliances that are crowding your kitchen only to be used around holidays and short outbursts of healthy dieting might finally see some real use. Again, if you’re catering to a small number of people, your home appliances might fill the need, but for larger operations, you’re going to have to upgrade to heavy-duty, chef-grade versions. On the bright side, those items are among the least expensive ones you need to complete your kitchen. Still, make sure you’re investing in quality.
Finally, you’ll need to wash all those dishes. The size and capacity of the dishwasher you need to get depends on the size of events you want to cater for. Keep in mind that a dishwasher needs a larger amount of space to ensure proper ventilation. Other variables include the amount of water it needs to provide the adequate pressure, the maximum water temperature and the length of one wash cycle.
A fully-equipped kitchen will be the base camp of your catering business and the place where your specialties come to life. This means you’ll need high-performance, restaurant equipment that can withstand heavy daily use. These eight essential pieces are something for you to consider as you plan the layout of your new kitchen premises.