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How to Become a Backstage Caterer

Backstage catering is a small niche in the world of chef jobs, but only a few of us are up for the exciting and demanding task of providing food and drink for famous and up-and-coming musicians, comedians and actors. This can be before, during and after their performances. If you have stars in your eyes just thinking about it, consider preparing for a one-of-a-kind career as a backstage caterer with training from a campus-based or online culinary school.

Catering

Backstage catering job description

As a backstage caterer, you may be cooking for as little as three people, or as many as 300. You may work from a home base kitchen, providing food locally for all the performers that have contracts with a singular production company. You may also work for a set venue, making food for whomever performs there. You could also travel on the road, catering for particular artists as they tour the country or the world for days, weeks or months at a time.

Regardless of the circumstances and facilities, as a backstage caterer you must be able to prepare exactly the kind of food that each client requests. That could be comfort food, special diet or allergy-free food, ethnic dishes and even gourmet delicacies. You also need to have a broad repertoire, as well as the ability to work hard and be flexible, discreet, and professional.

Backstage catering education requirements

Many backstage caterers learn the fundamentals of their trade through culinary degree programs. If you choose this path, your culinary instructors can help you expand your recipe base, but also teach you the ins and outs of catering with traditional and online culinary classes in subjects like:

  • Event planning
  • Finances
  • Marketing
  • Menu planning
  • Nutrition

With a culinary diploma, certificate or degree, your resume will speak for itself when you start looking for work as a backstage caterer.

Backstage caterer salary and job outlook

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have specific information for backstage caterers, here is what to expect in terms of salary for some common food and beverage positions. These are average nationwide salaries from the BLS in May of 2014:

  • Food Servers, Non-Restaurant: $22,510
  • Food Service Managers: $53,500
  • Chefs and Head Cooks: $45,880
  • Meeting, Convention and Event Planners: $50,910

Backstage caterer salaries depend on experience, location, and the scope of each job. For example, according to BLS data there are more jobs available on average for non-restaurant food service workers in California, New York, Ohio, Florida and Texas, compared to the rest of the U.S. The BLS also encourages workers to earn some type of culinary degree or certification to help increase your chances of success in this industry.

Sources:

  • Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, United States, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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            • Online Courses
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            • Gives students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in the culinary arts field in less than 15 months or bachelor’s degree in the food service management field in 2.5 years through their year-round schedule.
            • Located in Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia.
            • Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
            • Hosts regular career fairs for employer recruitment.
            • Has student housing available.
            • Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
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            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
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            • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
            • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
            • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
            • Has campuses in Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, Florida
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            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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