Your Catering Supplies Checklist

28 Things Every Catering Company Needs

A good catering business needs the right types of catering supplies and equipment to really shine during those fast-paced food service events. If you’ve decided to take the leap and expand your restaurant or bar by catering off-site events, or you’re starting out with just catering, congratulations! This is a promising industry with a lot of opportunity for expansion in many communities, and if you’re set up well, you’re able to compete well, too!

When you’re considering catering as an element of event planning, the amount of organization and preparation required might seem a little overwhelming. But when you understand all of the upfront costs of supplies and equipment, you’re better able to plan ahead and get what you need, without a lot of extras that you don’t.

We’ve done the heavy lifting here, and listed every major item you need for your new catering venture to succeed. Grab a pen, or copy and paste this handy checklist to your Notes app. Here are some of the most important items to source for your new catering business.

Cooking Equipment

If you require chef stations at your event, invest in cooking equipment that is transportable and optimal for outdoor use. The goal of launching your catering business is to attract more customers to your full-service restaurant. To turn prospects into loyal fans, you need to cook your catering offerings with precision.

The trick to effective catering equipment is reduced size and transportability. Expect outlets and water lines to be in short supply. With this in mind, the following equipment purchases will ensure attendees enjoy every item on your menu the way you intend.

  • Induction Ranges — Induction ranges are a dream for caterers. These countertop cookers are portable, compact, and don’t create ambient heat. They’re a winning choice for your omelet or crepe station.
  • Portable Gas Ranges — Portable grills and ranges allow for mobile, easy cooking, whether you’re searing burgers or putting the finishing touches on a veggie skewer.
  • Outdoor Burners — Cook and fry your most popular menu items at your next catering location by using outdoor gas stoves and burners.
  • Holding Cabinets — Catering a lengthy event? Holding cabinets regulate both temperature and humidity to create the ideal space to keep your food warm for hours.
  • Deep Fryers – One of the great things about catering deep fryers is that you’re using them outside! Also, they can help to create a fresh, crispy taste sensation on-site, with on-demand hot food that satisfies. Get the right size and type (tube-type or hot pot) fryer for your apps and more.

Serving Equipment

In many scenarios, guests at a catering event will first see your food when presented on a platter or served at their table. Enable your staff to fulfill your vision with heavy-duty serving equipment. Put your best foot forward with equipment that will maintain its quality throughout the year.

  • Serving Trays — Add functionality to your catered event, whether for indoor or outdoor use. Serving trays showcase your food and withstand the demands of a high-paced event.
  • Serving Utensils — Be sure to pack enough serving tongs, spoons, forks, and other utensils so attendees can help themselves to your mouth-watering spread.
  • Tray Stands — Optimize the food delivery process with portable tray stands designed to fold up for space-saving storage.
  • Food Pans — Ensure that you adequately organize and contain your catering options with our selection of plastic food pans with corresponding lids and accessories.
  • Chef Aprons — Every member of your staff should look professional and presentable. Update your selection of chef aprons with our range of comfortable and durable chef wear.
  • Foil Pans – Sometimes, you need your containers to be disposable or “to go” – foil pans are handy for keeping extras, or putting hot foods on a table where they can be grabbed for.
  • Utensil Holders – These are some of the newer types of accessories that caterers use for venue service. Some are built into platters; others get placed near a serving tray or dish. Essentially, these holders keep the food-laden part of a serving spoon or fork from getting the table dirty in between uses as diners file by in a buffet-style setting.

Display and Décor

After you have put together the best catering menu, you’ll need a way to present it to guests.

  • Serving Platters – These come in all styles, shapes, and sizes. Figure out which ones will best complement your menu and the aesthetic of your operation.
  • Cake Stands – For baked goods and more, cake stands and similar covered platforms are ideal.
  • Covered Presentation Trays – These clear-covered trays keep the insects off of the food and seal in some of the ambient temperatures, but they do not control temperature. They’re good for the less perishable items you put out for diners.
  • Napkin Holders – again, these can be adorned or branded to show off your catering business in its own style.

Beverage Supplies

Most catering functions will require some selection of beverages to quench the thirst of attendees. The items below help you transport, dispense, and temperature control beverages like water, tea, and coffee. Browse our selection to choose between dispensers that are elegant or more casual.

  • Beverage Dispensers — Insulated beverage dispensers regulate temperature, while uninsulated dispensers are more portable and easy to assemble. We offer specialized dispensers for your catering business, including iced tea brewers and frozen beverage dispensers.
  • Ice and Water Dispensers — Keep guests cool and refreshed with accessible ice and water dispensers at your beverage station.
  • Coffee Dispensers — A breakfast or business spread wouldn’t be complete without a portable coffee dispenser.
  • Cold and Frozen Drink Machines – Classy events can sometimes use a shaved ice machine to mass-manufacture tasty frozen treats on-site.

Disposable Supplies

Spare your clients extra fees by using disposable cutlery, plates, and other dinnerware. Eliminate the risk of broken dishes and reduce cleanup time with these handy disposable supplies.

  • Plastic Cutlery — Casual events with a high guest count benefit from the ease of disposable cutlery and plates, especially when you’re looking for ways to cut costs.
  • Picks — Cocktail picks assist in assembling drinks, and food picks can identify allergies and dietary lifestyles like vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
  • Packaging Supplies — Tin foil, plastic wrap, disposable bags, and other packaging supplies maintain food quality and help you efficiently take leftover food off-site after an event.


An upstart catering company’s first priority is to secure transportation equipment to bring the supplies necessary to prepare, store, and serve food on-location.

To transport your meals to their destination without a drop in temperature, you will need the following items:

  • Vehicle — Secure a commercial vehicle that is large enough for all of your catering equipment and all of the food you will serve. License these vehicles for commercial use and hire someone on staff who has a commercial driving license and experience with these types of vehicles.
  • Insulated Food Pan Carriers — Ensure your food and beverages arrive at a safe temperature with an insulated food pan carrier. A food pan carrier allows you to keep your food hot or cold during transport or service preparation.
  • Outdoor Coolers — Keep your drinks and other chilled items frosty and cold with a transportable cooler.
  • Food Storage Containers and Boxes — Keep ingredients, appetizers, and meals fresh and away from contamination with food storage boxes and containers
  • Glass Racks — Safely transport drinkware with glass racks featuring external walls to keep contaminants out.
  • Dollies/Carts – When you need to really get on the ball and get food, equipment, supplies and more from one area of your venue to another, having a good versatile dolly is a big help. Even better, a properly designed cart can work wonders. As long as you have a reasonably flat surface, like a concrete or asphalt pathway, you can do setup without straining your back lugging heavy items around.

Launch Your Catering Company With Chefs’ Toys

After you’ve acquired the basics, consider the table settings and furniture your restaurant or bar will need to execute memorable events. These finishing touches can propel your catering arm to success in your community.

Folding tables, chairs, benches, table cloths, napkins, dinnerware, flatware, and glassware should also make your list of necessary catering items. When you order equipment like induction cookers and beverage dispensers from Chefs’ Toys, you know that each item is hand-selected by chefs and catering experts with decades of experience in the foodservice industry.

Talk to one of our chefs today to determine what transportable restaurant equipment will provide the most impact as part of your catering strategy.