Who was your first caterer? Well, Mom of course.
When you were young you just expected your food to be there at the right sort of times of day, every day, without asking odd sorts of questions like “how did you cook this?” or “what’s in this?”, (a question that one does not, in any event, ask in Thailand, where I live some of the time, for fear of the answer). My English mother’s cooking I can always remember as particularly gruesome on the occasions when she was “experimenting”.
When you are young you just eat what is put in front of you because there is no choice. Greens as well, if you have stricter, or possibly more sensible parents, who are adept at obfuscating the “offending articles of necessary vegetable enrichment for growing children”, such as cabbage, sprouts, carrots and parsnip, by disguising them among the more palatable (for the young) rubbish food surrounding them, or, if absolutely vital, smothering them with some sort of sauce. In Thailand its chilli, in England or America it could be Tomato or ‘mayo’, in Canada it’s sometimes maple syrup.
When you stop being a little child and go to you’re first ‘grown-up’ parties, you will find that the food is different from what you are used to at home. It is possible, at a family wedding, that you come across caterers and catering for the very first time, conveniently forgetting your school food “caterers”. These guys at the wedding really do their bit. As a youngster you are likely to be awe-inspired by the food and drink set out in front of you, and it may take you a little while to realise that it is actually for you to eat and not just for show.
Choices are very difficult if you’ve never really had one before. Shall I go straight for the hot roast beef? Those jellies look rather nice. The potatoes over there dripping with butter are just like Mom cooks. “I don’t like fish” but you’re told it’s smoked salmon and very grown-up.
If you are lucky you will have an elder cousin to pull or put you out of your predicament. Suddenly your elder and wiser cousin of the other sex will summon one of the caterers to you, (a frightening prospect at the age of 6), demand of you exactly what you want, and the whole lot comes back in a couple of minutes with the hot things hot and the cold things cold.
I fell in love that day, not only with my cousin (who was a real ‘cracker’ for a 6 year old), but in catering and people who can give me ‘good’ food. The caterers on that day gave me inspiration to learn how to cook properly when I was older, so that I could give to people the very best of what I could produce from my own stove. I only cook for good friends, but the caterers see me OK for the rest of the time.
At the end of the day, every caterer wants to please. Whether you are in Dubrovnik or Denver, you have to give your guests, and particularly you’re paying guests, what they want.
I still remember the food at that wedding even now.
If you are thinking of a catering career….. go for it. You will make a lot of people happy.
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