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Feeding Frenzy

This boot camp makes starting a catering company a little easier.

If you dream about putting hors d'oeuvres on little toothpicks for large parties, you might want to check out your local Catering Boot Camp seminar. Produced by Bill Hansen, founder of Bill Hansen Catering and LeadingCaterers.com, a website for caterers and consumers searching for catering services, the boot camps are one-day seminars held all around the country, detailing the ins and outs of the catering business. "We walk [participants] through a step-by-step pro-cess," says Hansen. "It's not a cooking school--we talk about how to start, menu ideas, where to buy insurance. Cooking is only about 20 percent of the catering job."

Hansen's workshops give aspiring caterers the skinny on how to staff an event and gauge how much food to order, as well as the logistics of serving a large group of people at once. Topics like selecting linens, knowing your on-site facilities and timing an event are discussed. Hansen even touches on the legalities of serving alcohol at events and discusses developing a marketing plan and website. The bevy of information offered at the Catering Boot Camp should help dispel the most common catering myth: "That [catering] is an easy way to make a living," notes Hansen. "It's hard work, and [people] overlook the number of details involved."

The cost runs $295 for one person, and $200 for a second or third person in your company. For the dates and registration information for your nearest Catering Boot Camp, check out LeadingCaterers.com. While catering's still a tough gig, Hansen says, "It's a great time to be a caterer, [with] the amount of business that's out there. People are booking events on a shorter and shorter fuse . . . and they're shopping [for caterers] 24/7."

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This article was originally published in the August 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Feeding Frenzy.

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