Catering Essentials: A Comprehensive Checklist for Success

Hands picking up food from buffet catering table at the party
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Do you own a catering company and are looking to take your events to the next level? Whether you’re catering an outdoor wedding or an indoor corporate event, having the right catering supplies is essential for success. From transportation to food storage and presentation, every aspect of your catering operation needs to be well-equipped.

In this comprehensive catering checklist, you will find the most essential catering equipment to keep on hand, ensuring that you’re ready for any event.

1. Catering Vehicle

A reliable and spacious catering vehicle is the backbone of any catering operation. When it comes to choosing the right vehicle, cargo vans are a popular choice due to their ample space for kitchen equipment, tables, and food storage. The size of your vehicle will depend on the equipment you need to transport and whether you require space for staff. Before making a purchase, it’s crucial to research the permits and regulations associated with operating a commercial catering vehicle.

2. Insulated Food Pan Carriers

Transporting ready-to-eat dishes to off-site events can be a challenge, especially when it comes to maintaining the ideal temperature. Insulated food pan carriers are a lifesaver in such situations, as they guarantee that your food stays hot or cold for several hours. These carriers come in various sizes and can accommodate pans of different sizes. The ability to stack them on top of each other makes it easy to transport numerous meals to events without compromising on quality.

3. Countertop Induction Cookers

In the world of catering, creating a memorable experience for your guests is paramount. One way to achieve this is by setting up chef action stations where guests can see their food being prepared. Countertop induction cookers are a must-have for such stations, as they allow you to set up a cooking area quickly and efficiently. These cookers are not only convenient when your venue doesn’t have a kitchen but also enable you to prepare food at lightning speed. So, don’t forget to put it on your catering list of necessary equipment.

4. Chafers and Chafing Dishes

When it comes to serving and presenting prepared food, chafers and chafing dishes are the go-to containers for caterers and should definitely have their place on your catering buffet equipment list. These dishes are essential for keeping hot foods at the right temperature throughout the event. Stainless steel chafing dishes are reusable and offer a touch of elegance, while disposable chafing dishes made from aluminium foil are ideal for informal events. They come in various sizes and are stackable, making them easy to transport.

5. Tables, Chairs, and Tablecloths

Creating the perfect table setting is an art form in itself. As a caterer, you’ll likely need to provide clients with tables, chairs, and tablecloths to complete the ambiance of their event. The type of table setting you choose should be functional and match the theme of the event. Factors such as the number of guests and whether the event is indoors or outdoors will influence the type of tables and chairs you need to provide.

6. Serving Equipment

Efficiently serving guests is crucial in the catering industry. Equipping your staff with the right serving tools will enhance their ability to provide excellent service. Here are some examples of essential serving equipment that all caterers should include on their catering checklists:

  • Serving trays: Ideal for carrying multiple plates or glasses at once.
  • Serving utensils: Ensure you have a variety of spoons, tongs, and ladles for different types of dishes.
  • Beverage dispensers: Make it easy for guests to help themselves to drinks by providing self-serve beverage stations.

7. Dinnerware

Selecting the appropriate dinnerware for an event is crucial for creating the desired atmosphere. The design of the dinnerware should align with the theme of the event, and it’s important to choose high-quality plates and utensils that won’t easily crack or chip. For informal or large events, disposable dinnerware can be a convenient option, making cleanup a breeze. At CMJJ Gourmet, you can request a free sample kit of your chosen products to see for yourself which ones would be the most useful for your event.

8. Outdoor Coolers

When catering an event, access to refrigeration may not always be possible. In such cases, having outdoor coolers is essential to keep the food fresh. Industrial outdoor coolers are heavily insulated and designed to keep ice frozen for extended periods. They provide ample space for keeping beverages cooled or storing premade foods, ensuring that they remain fresh in any weather condition.

9. Insulated Beverage Dispensers

What else is missing on your caterer’s checklist? Insulated beverage dispensers.

Keeping beverages at the right temperature is crucial for ensuring guest satisfaction. These dispensers are a must-have for transporting and serving hot or cold drinks. They simplify the setup of beverage stations and make it easier to serve guests. The type of dispenser you choose will depend on the specific drink you’re serving. Coffee pots or coffee chafer urns, for example, are ideal for serving coffee at events.

The Bottom Line

With this comprehensive catering equipment list, you’re ready to take on any catering event with confidence. From your commercial catering vehicle to your dinnerware and beverage dispensers, each item plays a vital role in ensuring the success of your catering operation. By investing in the right supplies and equipment, you’ll be able to provide exceptional service and create unforgettable experiences for your clients and their guests. So, gear up and get ready to elevate your catering game to new heights with our catering event checklist!


  • Dacia Flowers

    Dacia Flowers is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) with a major in Cultural Anthropology. Since graduating in 2019, she has expanded her expertise and applied her anthropological background in the practical domain. As the Administration Manager at CMJJ Gourmet since August 2022, Dacia handles crucial day-to-day operations, ensuring the warehouse's optimal functionality, timely delivery of orders, and managing invoices. Her commitment to excellence and in-depth understanding of organizational dynamics stem not just from her academic prowess but also her personal passion. Beyond her professional responsibilities, Dacia has a keen interest in reading, loves to travel, and stays active through regular exercise.

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