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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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            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
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            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
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            • Received the 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
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            • Founded in 1979 as the Star Technical Institute school group, offering career training in drafting and design.
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            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
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            • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
            • A private post-secondary institution of higher education serving south-central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland since 1967.
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