Today we will see what catering is. A dictionary definition would sound like this: the supplying and serving of ready-made food products through specialized companies. Certainly, each of us has at least once turned to the specialized services of a catering company. But did you know that, although so popular today, the term “catering” began to be used quite late (after the first half of the 19th century)?
The history of catering has deep roots in the history of humanity. We can speak of its beginnings somewhere in antiquity when food could be purchased from the street or from specially arranged places, and to be consumed on the spot or at home. Not to mention the famous parties (as they were in ancient Rome), where the culinary offer occupied perhaps the most important place.
Later, in the Middle East, they appeared along the routes of the caravans inns (Caravanserai) where travelers could eat and rest overnight. In the Middle Ages in Western Europe, monasteries also played an important role in feeding and sheltering travelers. With their decline, the inns experienced an important development, considering that more and more people were traveling. After 1826 – with the first railway journey – hotels and canteens began to appear in the train stations, increasingly sought by travelers, some of them being operated by the transport companies themselves.
But the accelerated progress of the last two centuries puts us today in front of extraordinary specialized services, according to a wide range of criteria, among which clients’ preferences and budgets continue to dominate.
We are talking, thus, at present, about basic types of catering:
- industrial (schools, hospitals, army, etc);
- travel (train, plane, ship, etc.);
- commercial (restaurants, specialized catering companies, etc).
Commercial catering implies a direct relationship with the final customer, the interactions with the latter being meant to lead to a great diversification of the gastronomic offer. Also, besides the taste of the food (once unique criterion), today it matters a lot the origin of the ingredients, their way of preparation, the conditions in which the entire process of preparation, preservation, and transport takes place, but also the aesthetic aspect of the final products. In order to offer complete catering services, a company must include in the menu products belonging to both the local and international cuisine, and also niche ones (vegan, salt-free, gluten-free, etc.). It also must have modern technologies and professional chefs, experienced chefs.
Types of catering
There are also in this field, as in any industry, certain terms (technical vocabulary, specific words), whose knowledge is obviously necessary for a fluid and efficient communication between the supplier and the customer.
Therefore, catering is, by definition, a professional service that mainly involves the provision of prepared food, ready to be served, but also related services – logistics, etc. The food is prepared either in the company’s own kitchens or on the spot (during certain events, such as, for example, cooking shows or some outdoor events). It is also considered catering when the food is marketed in a place other than the one where it is prepared, by different companies.
There are several types of catering, including:
With a duration between 15 and 30 minutes, a relatively small fixed number of units of preparations per person is calculated.
The approximate hours of service are from 11.00 to 13.00 or between 19.00 and 21.00. A fixed number of units per person is calculated, with a proportion of 2/3 salted appetizers and 1/3 sweet ones.
It lasts about three hours and is generally organized at 20.00. Also, a fixed number of units per person is calculated, with a proportion of 2/3 salted appetizers and 1/3 sweet ones.
Catering reception buffet
It lasts about three hours and is generally organized at 20.00. A fixed number of units per person is calculated, with a proportion of 2/3 salted appetizers and 1/3 sweet ones. Cold, hot, and side dishes are served.
Catering reception, lunch or banquet
It is the type of catering for events with a longer duration – between six and eight hours – and usually starts at 22:00. There are appetizers, three dishes, desserts, coffee, drinks of different types, cake and champagne (depending on the occasion).
Catering working breakfast
It is calculated between three and five units of preparations per person per hour and can be of several types (continental, American, etc.).
It is a combination between breakfast and lunch and serves, approximately, at 11.00, lasting an hour and a half.
With a small number of units of preparations per person, champagne and wine. This type of catering is generally required when opening exhibitions.
Catering coffee break
Tea coffee, juices, salty and sweet appetizers. It lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, being a break during training sessions, conferences, meetings, etc.