What is a Production Caterer

What is a Production Caterer & What’s Their Role on Set?

The production caterer is responsible for delivering the food that keeps the film crew satisfied and fed. Otherwise, with long work hours, the film crew would not be able to eat or they would have to take lengthy amounts of time off to leave the production and obtain breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. The production caterer is responsible for ensuring that meals are ready and served to all members at an appropriate time that works within the schedule of the crew.

These individuals drive catering trucks that are packed full of food and the necessary equipment involved with the storage and transportation or production of the food. Stoves, ovens, refrigerators, fans and other necessary appliances are located in the unit base to allow for food catering just about anywhere the crew is located.

The caterer is generally hired in the early phase of production to ensure they are prepared and on site when shooting takes place. Catering companies are usually brought in by the production managers and contracted to prepare food for the crew throughout the film shoot.

Production Caterer

Production Caterer Responsibilities

The responsibilities of the production caterer range depending on the shoot time and the budget. They generally bring food to and from the location or set to ensure that all cast and crew members have essential meals, snacks, coffee and other beverages that allow them to continue working on set without having to take extensive time out for meals.

The production caterer agrees to a budget that they use to prepare meals and menus that are appropriate to the film crew. They note any allergies or other dietary needs on the set and do their best to prepare meals that are enjoyed by the staff and crew.

The production caterer offers sample menus in advance as a means to help the production company determine whether they wish to hire them or not. This is a freelance business that employs several people including cooks, salad chefs, dish washers, unit leaders and others that come together to cater the meal.

Catering is a demanding job that takes a lot of long work hours in a very physical environment. Standing over a hot stove, chopping food for hours, or otherwise working extensive hours in a kitchen environment make this an extremely physically demanding role that is not ideal for everyone. However, the role is rewarding to those that enjoy pleasing others and have fun making meals.

Production Caterer Skills

The skills required to be a successful production caterer range from ability to cook to ability to organize and budget. The job generally begins several days prior to the principal photography start when leaders begin to organize and pack the catering truck with essential equipment and food. When shoot day comes, the caterer will head to the location or set very early in the morning to set up and begin preparing food for the crew. Often times long distance travel is required.

The caterer must cook meals that please production members. They must prepare properly approved menus, with dietary restrictions considered, and they should be able to cater to the needs of a diverse group of crew and staff. Additional skills include:

  • Ability to prepare food well in advance of the need to use.
  • Ability to plan and prepare budgets and menus.
  • Ability to lead a team of catering crew.
  • Ability to recognize needs and make adjustments to ensure needs are met.
  • Ability to work well under pressure.
  • Food handling and safety skills.
  • Understanding of food production and health hazards.

Here’s a video relating to corporate catering, but can definitely apply to catering on a large film set


film crew positions

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