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What Does A Caterer Do?

When it comes to planning an event, you have many questions to answer… Where will the event be? Have you set a date? Is there a theme? One of the most important questions you’ll answer is what to do about food. That’s where a caterer comes in.

Caterers save you the stress of preparing the food yourself and they also make sure everyone is satisfied and happy. Oftentimes, they also help with the setup and cleanup of the food. In addition, there’s a lot of coordination that happens behind the scenes with caterers.

So what does a caterer do exactly? Keep reading below to find out!

Cooking & Preparation

Chefs often prepare a special menu for each event. After all, everyone has different tastes in food. Once a menu has been determined, caterers procure and gather the necessary ingredients. Then, they work with their team to make sure everything is prepared freshly and on time. This is usually done away from the event venue in a commercial kitchen.

After cooking and preparing the meal, they’ll even plate the meal and get them ready for transportation. This might include enclosing the meals in boxes or special food warmers.


If the meal is prepared away from the venue, the caterer will also often transport the food to the venue to be set up by either the caterer or the event venue. Sometimes they use special refrigerated vans for transporting meals served cold. 

Set Up & Plating

If they didn’t plate the food before transportation then the plating will often occur during set up for the event. 

Behind the Scenes Administrative Work

Behind the scenes of catering, a lot happens on an administrative level. 


Caterers also have to do a lot of coordination for every event that they do. One of the most common tasks is meeting with clients to choose a menu. During this meeting, they’ll discuss how many courses, food sensitivities, and flavor profiles. They will also discuss the cost of food and the cost of labor for each event. Generally, a caterer will calculate these figures beforehand on a per-person basis, and then discuss it with the event planner or host.

The caterer will also usually visit an event site or venue to plan where the food will be set up and the layout. For example, if a caterer is hosting a buffet, visiting the venue allows them to determine how they will set up various stations and tables.

Caterers also have to communicate and work with vendors for procuring ingredients, menu items, equipment, and even decor in some cases. During weddings and corporate events, caterers will also chat with vendors about the setup and takedown of certain food and beverage equipment.

When the event is over and everything is complete, the caterer will also bill their services by sending an invoice to the event planner or host. 


It may come as a surprise but the caterers have to deal with laws and legal codes to run their catering business. At the beginning of every catering project, caterers work with a client to write and sign event contracts. Additionally, they must also make sure they comply with their contracts throughout the preparation, duration, and conclusion of the event.

Caterers also must coordinate contracts and agreements with vendors to make sure food is prepared safely and timely.

Compliance is also a major issue for restaurants and caterers as a whole. They must comply with the local state and national food safety regulations as well as labor laws.

Catering in Hawaii

As a full-service catering and event planning company, Hale ‘Aina Caterers has been providing the best in Pacific Rim cuisine and Hawaiian hospitality services since 2005. 

Our network of partners includes wedding coordinators, rental companies, property managers, DJ’s and florists. Led by Executive Chef, Kanani Lincoln, Hale ‘Aina Caterers offers sushi and sashimi fresh off the Honolulu auction block to Latin, Mediterranean, and Asian Fusion or even traditional Hawaiian luau buffets. Some of Chef Kanani’s past clients have included Dave Matthews, Steve Case, Rihanna, Hale Irwin, Ellis Short, Jack Giarraputo, and Brett Hull. Looking for a caterer on Oahu? Contact Hale ‘Aina Caterers today!

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