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How to Hire a Qualified Catering Staff Within Days

From the canapes to the cutlery, the dining details at an event impact guest experience. To deliver great food and sparkling service, quality catering staff is a necessity. But finding the right people to join your catering team can be difficult on short notice.

When you’ve got guests to feed and no time to waste, the pressure to find catering staff is on. NACE business partner Qwick offers hiring strategies and tips to help equip you with the tools you need to tackle your staffing challenges.

Keep reading to learn all about finding catering staff in a jiffy!

What Positions Make Up a Full Catering Staff?

Before you set out to hire catering staff, make a list of exactly what positions need filling. This prevents you from having gaps in your staff that can slow down service on the day of the event.

The essential roles for a fully operational catering staff include:

Leadership

Banquet Captain
Who will ensure that the event runs smoothly from start to finish? An experienced and reliable banquet captain delegates responsibility and coordinates with servers, chefs, and other team members to make certain guests enjoy a high-quality experience.

Head Chef
Long before the event, the head chef works with the client to create a menu that pleases palates and fits within the event budget. On the day of, the head chef will prepare meals, direct the kitchen staff, and certify that meals are correctly prepared before they are set in front of diners.

Front of House Team

Servers
Severs are the face of the catering team. These professionals have the most interaction with guests as they record food and drink orders, present meals, and check in on tables, all in a fast-paced environment. Be sure to ask the right banquet server interview questions to ensure you are hiring catering staff that can keep up.

Bussers
To maintain a pristine dining environment, bussers are an indispensable part of any catering staff. These team members are responsible for clearing tables and cleaning any messes that inevitably pop up. Additionally, they can assist in tearing down when the event comes to a close.

Bartenders
Bartenders will whip up cocktails and other drinks to keep the good times flowing. A skilled bartender will serve up beverages while making guests feel taken care of. Depending on the size of the event, you may want to enlist a barback to assist the bartenders you hire.

Back of House Team

Prep Cooks & Food Assemblers
The head chef may be the mastermind behind each course, but they’ll need the help of cooks to bring the meal to life. These cooks will get ingredients ready, make sauces and simple meals and be of assistance to the chef in whatever way is necessary.

Line Cooks
Line cooks are each responsible for a station in the kitchen. These professionals follow the orders of a sous chef and are an integral part of the food preparation process.

Dishwashers
In your quest to find catering staff, don’t forget to bring on a dishwasher or two. To keep the kitchen running smoothly, clean tools are a must.

Of course, the size and makeup of the team you need will depend on the event. There may be a need to expand the positions you are hiring for beyond this list. On the other hand, you might not need to fill all these positions if the event is intimate.

Either way, you can utilize this framework to guide the process of hiring catering staff.

How to Find Catering Staff Quickly

When you’re short on time, hiring wait staff for an event requires a bit of creativity. Fortunately, there’s no need to turn down an event due to understaffing. Instead, consider these quick and effective ways to scout out professionals for your event.

Leverage Your Network

If you’ve been in business for a while, now is the time to call in some favors. Think about the venues where your catering company has worked. Compile a list of contacts that can find catering staff for you on short notice. To start your search, reach out to:

  • The event manager who runs banquets at the nearby hotel
  • The wedding planner who refers clients to you
  • Your contact at a local culinary organization or school

Ideally, you’d hire in the planning stages of an event. However, impromptu bookings can catch even the most prepared caterer off guard. To hire catering staff on short notice, don’t be afraid to ask around. If you do find help, be sure to thank the contact. And remember to return the favor down the road, whether it’s with a referral or in another way.

Seek out Students

If your catering company is in a college town, you’ve got a pool of potential staff to work with. Whether it’s a large university or a modest community college, there are students in the area who are strapped for cash.

To reach them, you can take a digital or in-person approach. If there are certain places that students frequent (coffee shop, library, etc.), consider posting a flyer with your company’s contact information.

Another option is to post on the job on the school’s online job board. If the process of getting approved as an employer to post on the board is too lengthy, take your post to social media. Since many students are strapped for cash, promoting your job to this audience will likely bring some new staff.

Borrow Staff from Restaurants

Finding catering staff for hire might be easier than you imagine. With many restaurants focusing on takeout and delivery services, managers are cutting hours of front and back of house staff.

Take advantage by asking restaurant managers in the area if you can poach some of their additional staff for one event. If employees are looking to pick up more work hours, you can provide this supplemental income and get the services you need.

The biggest benefit of this method is that you know these employees are qualified to work in the food and beverage industry. But, you may have to ask around at multiple locations before getting the answer you’re after. This brings us to the next, more time-efficient way to find catering staff.

Get Qwick

Qwick is a digital platform designed to produce qualified food and beverage professionals at a moment’s notice. For an on-demand approach to hiring catering staff, simply download the app and post the jobs you need to be filled. The job description leaves room for details so you can specify the clothing that professionals should don, where they should go upon arrival, and more.

Think of Qwick as a refreshing palate cleanser after typical catering staff agencies left a bitter impression. With Qwick, there is no waiting around for weeks to fill a position. On top of that, the platform vets each candidate using a thorough selection process. So when a professional accepts your job, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they are the creme de la creme of catering professionals.

Tips for Managing Catering Staff at an Event

Full catering staff? Check. Now take charge by implementing clear communication systems for a smooth run on the big day.

Take Time to Train

It’s not enough to just find catering staff; you need to ensure they’re ready for the event as well. Offer a demonstration of the do’s and don’ts of service for the banquet server hires you bring on. If possible, set aside time for a run-through in which new staff can demonstrate what they have learned.

No time to train? You won’t need to train professionals that you hire from Qwick. The platform only allows top professionals to accept jobs. Each candidate is vetted and tested on their knowledge before they arrive to you. To skip training and save time, build up your catering staff with Qwick.

Establish Clear Leadership

Well before the event, define leadership roles. Depending on the size and formality of the event, you may need to create multiple levels of leadership. Typically, the banquet captain will oversee the catering staff and ensure front and back of house operations are running smoothly. Other leadership roles include the event coordinator and the head chef.

Ensure that each team member understands who they report to and who to contact when an issue arises. Making the leadership hierarchy clear from the start minimizes confusion at all levels.

Prioritize Health and Sanitation

Providing guests with a clean environment and food prepared according to sanitation guidelines is crucial. Make health and hygiene guidelines accessible to all catering staff and require strict adherence to these rules. Additionally, let the staff know that they should not work the event if they are feeling ill. Request that staff notify you as soon as possible when they cannot attend.

Hopefully, all members of the catering staff stay healthy and can work the event. If a last-minute sick callout occurs, you can post a shift to Qwick for a spur-of-the-moment replacement.

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Harlee Mooney

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