A day in the life of a professional caterer!

As an amateur home cook, I have always enjoyed the serenity of stirring, chopping and slicing in my own kitchen, at my own pace. But I have always wondered what is involved in professional catering and whether I would be able to hold my own in a high-intensity professional environment…

Well, I found out when I was lucky enough to tag along with my friend, Lyn from Gourmet Tarts Catering and experience what is involved in the life of a professional caterer! Gourmet Tarts provides catering for all private and corporate events, including weddings, Christmas parties, work functions, birthdays and wakes. Earlier in the year, I attended a private birthday function to lend a hand.

Here is what I learnt…

What struck me from the first instance was the extent of preparation and hard work that was done before the event began. I’m sure it is not surprising that catering for an event of over 100 people requires hours of work to be done beforehand, behind the scenes. I was really impressed by the routine and familiarity with which Lyn ensured everything was prepared in advance to save time on the night. For example, meats were marinated ahead of time, which not only saves time but also makes meat such as lamb and beef incredibly succulent and delicious.

Another crucial part of the work done in advance was packing the car full of all the food, as well as utensils, trays and serving platters. Upon arrival, we all pitched in to transfer the cargo from the car into the client’s kitchen for service. On top of days worth of preparation in advance, a massive part of the catering gig is shipping the food and equipment to different locations. I can only imagine how laborious this is, especially on a night like I was involved in, where there was heavy rain…

sanchoi boa spoons
Mouthfuls of pork san choi bao were the perfect finger food

Once the car was unloaded, the kitchen was organised for plating and service to begin straight away. This involved lots of cutting, plating, arranging, garnishing and seasoning. For example, hundreds of mini burger buns needed to be cut and dressed, the foundations of tarts needed to be built upon and marinated meat needed to be cooked and served. Food was transferred from containers to platters and garnished elegantly to catch the eye of hungry guests.

There is a lot of client interaction on the night of the events when food is handed around. My favourite part of the experience was seeing the joy and pleasure people received from the food. The prawns marinated in chilli and lime, as well as the beef sliders,  were the standouts based on the guests’ exultations of delight. Even though I was a relatively insignificant cog in the wheel of the catering team, I still felt like a part of a bigger process and I loved the comments from guests about the amazing food they were eating.

I learnt so much from my night as an imposter of Gourmet Tarts. The biggest thought I took away with me was my renewed respect for Lyn and her team at the hours of dedication, thought and love that went into the preparation and delivery of the catering for this event. After all, I don’t know how they manage to produce exceptional food and service, night after night with smiles and laughter.

I love to cook, especially during times of stress or unrest because the physical motions and repetitive actions allow me to drift away. Above all, I love feeding my friends and family with thoughtful and satisfying food which brings joy and togetherness. However, I don’t think I have mastered the expert precision demonstrated by Lyn and her team (yet) and so I will continue to cook in my happy little kitchen and leave the big jobs to the big guns.

I cannot recommend Lyn and her team at Gourmet Tarts highly enough. Follow the link to book for your next party or function. 

lyn prepping 2
Lovely Lyn always wears a smile during service


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