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What does a Catering Director do?

By Daphne Mallory
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A catering director is responsible for handling all the tasks related to food services for various events. They often manage a staff to take care of all the aspects of catering, such as food preparation and cleanup. Many directors are employed by corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. Some run their own businesses and work as independent contractors for special events. A director often has education and experience in the hospitality industry, and some may have a sales and marketing background as well.

Planning meals for events and ensuring that enough food is available for attendees is a primary task of a catering director. Directors must be able to coordinate with department heads and event planners in order to plan the best menu possible for events. They also have to know how to cook to serve large crowds and how to organize staff to do the same. Directors are often graduates of culinary schools where they learn those skills, or they major in a hospitality degree from conventional colleges and universities. They may also earn certificates from programs that focus on people and project management skills.

Training and managing a team of caterers is an important aspect of a director’s job. In a corporate or other organizational setting, caterers report to the catering director to get assignments, ask questions, and receive feedback on a daily basis. A self-employed director does the same with independent contractors, but just prior to and during the event. The director often has the power to hire and fire caterers, give job performance reviews, and provide the resources necessary to endure the success of the team. It’s also up to the director to develop strategies to improve the performance of the catering team and the overall catering experience.

Selling is part of the duties and responsibilities of a catering director. Working on selling catering services is often the majority of what a director must do, even more so than planning the events themselves. They must find and maintain accounts on behalf of the companies they work for. For example, a catering director for a hotel may organize tours for potential clients in order to sell them on the catering services available and letting those prospective clients know why the organization they work for is the best. Directors who are comfortable with and have experience selling to clients often thrive and are successful in their careers.

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Discussion Comments
By Bertie68 — On Jul 25, 2011

I wonder if working as a catering director for a company that does weddings may be the most demanding type of assignment?

I just think about when my two daughters were planning their wedding; the time just working with the clients - in this case the bride and groom and the mother - was a lot of time. The couples went back and forth and couldn't decide what to serve. They were also trying to stay within a budget.

My daughters weren't too bad, but some brides are such perfectionist, they probably badger the catering director, wondering if everything is going to be all right. Food is really a big thing at weddings these days.

By FernValley — On Jul 24, 2011

@amysamp- There is always something of a commission aspect in things like director of catering jobs. I knew a family who started a coffee shop, and they didn't even really have base salaries, since at first it was just the parents running things and the kids helping. In that case, everything they made was commission!

By amysamp — On Jul 23, 2011

@saraq90 - You had me curious and I only had to research a little to find a director of catering's salary can most definitely include a base salary with a commission component added to it.

In fact one of the things I read advertised an "aggressive commission" component!

I think then that depending on your cost of living, that makes being a director of catering seem even more worth the sales part of the job. I wonder how many hours a catering director has to work. And since they are doing sales and other jobs do they have to work weekends like other catering jobs often require?

By Saraq90 — On Jul 23, 2011

@amysamp - I was researching the director of catering's salary as well.

The thing I am curious about is that if sales are involved, does that mean you have to sell a ton to make that 40,000 or above or is that your base salary and then you make more on top of that if you gain a lot of catering business through your sales skills.

By amysamp — On Jul 22, 2011

My aunt works for a catering company as a part time job and loves it! Part of the reason she loves this food service job is that she gets to see weddings. She is such a softie she can't get enough of them.

She thought about making it full time and therefore, the idea of trying to eventually become the director of catering came up.

But when she saw that part of the catering director's job description was sales she decided the job may not be for her. But, funny enough, when she researched more she saw that a catering director salary can be in 40,000 or more arena she thought she may just have to learn more about this catering sales business.

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