Why Penn Foster?

  • Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Program Overview

Develop your natural talent for cooking in as little as three months with the Penn Foster Career School Caterer Program. You’ll learn to prepare and serve exquisite meals to family, friends, and customers. Did you know that the average salary for Chefs and Head Cooks is $ 42,480?* Learn the skills you need to begin your new career at home and at a pace that’s right for you.

The Caterer Program will teach you the professional skills of catering and gourmet cooking, as well as how to start your own business. You will learn how to prepare everything from appetizers to a ten-course meal. And, you’ll get hands-on practice with the cooking labs and detailed video tutorials included in your program.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

To prepare students to prepare meals for friends, families, and others, while also beginning students on their journey to starting their own catering business.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Know the services commonly offered at catered events and identify a wide range of styles of events
  • Recognize market research, management styles, branding, and how to create written agreements
  • Recognize many types of alcoholic beverages, the history of beer and wine, and the characteristics of the most popular categories of wine
  • Identify the elements of buffet design and setup
  • Understand the basics of food and nutrition and of monitoring food safety and sanitation practices
  • Understand the basic principles of modifying and converting recipes
  • Comprehend what is needed to choose the correct equipment and tools
  • Know how to plan menus, ensure quality of meals, and season and cook food according to recipes
  • Understand preparation, cooking, garnishing, and presentation of food

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.

Objectives:

  • Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
Introduction to Catering

This introductory lesson will introduce you to catered events.

Objectives:

  • Describe the levels of catering.
  • Assess clients’ needs.
  • Create written agreements.

Unit 2

Dynamics of Catering

Catering deals not only with cooking but also with beverages and table service.

Objectives:

  • Learn about wine and beverage service.
  • Identify important etiquette associated with catering.
  • Study fast cleanup techniques.
Food Styles of Catering

Become a food artist!

Objectives:

  • Describe food presentation style and design techniques.
  • Garnish meals.
Alcoholic Beverages

This lesson teaches everything you’ll need to know about serving alcoholic beverages.

Objectives:

  • Create an efficient bar layout and operation.
  • Use marketing strategies to maximize profitability.
  • Identify intoxication warning signs.
  • Describe legal concerns associated with serving alcohol.

Unit 3

The Culinary Professional

Plan your career path by learning about the jobs available to culinary professionals.

Objectives:

  • Learn about the French kitchen brigade.
  • Understand foodborne illnesses.
  • Develop balanced menus.
  • Learn how to develop a foundation of flavor.
  • Understand nutrition and food science.
  • Describe food and kitchen safety.
  • Measure ingredients and convert recipe yields.
  • Calculate edible portion quantity and cost.
  • Identify kitchen equipment and its use.
The Gourmet Kitchen

Learn about the ideal layout and design of a gourmet kitchen.

Objectives:

  • Design, setup and present buffets.
  • Understand the goals of the presentation.
  • Identify simple garnishes.
  • Create basic and advanced food presentations.
Cooking Lab: Seared Beef

In your first cooking lab supplement, you’ll sear beef with arugula and onions to create a delicious dish.

Cooking Lab: Caramelized Onion Frittata

In this cooking lab, you'll caramelize onions to create a caramelized onion frittata, and present your dish with one of the beautiful presentation options in this supplement. You'll slice onions, determine if eggs are fresh, sun dry tomatoes, and learn the difference between an omelet, a quiche, and a frittata.

Additional Unit Materials

Textbook: The Professional Chef

Video: Chef Skills

Unit 4

Stocks, Sauces, and Soups

In this course, you'll learn the fundamental recipes for making stocks, sauces, and soups, and to appreciate subtle nuances of flavor and texture.

Objectives:

  • Identify and use bouquet garni, sachet d’épices, mirepoix, and clarified butter.
  • Prepare stocks and sauces
  • Learn about soup ingredients and preparation.
Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs

This course teaches the essentials about fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and the primary cooking methods.

Objectives:

  • Identify fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
  • Prepare and cook basic vegetables.
  • Understand the effects of herbs in recipes.
Cooking Lab: Stir-Fried Beans

You will stir fry beans in this cooking lab. Stir frying is one of the oldest cooking methods in the world. Choose accompaniments for your dish, and create delicious sauces.

Additional Unit Material

Video: Stir-Fried Beans

Unit 5

Meat

In this course you'll learn to cook remarkable, mouth-watering recipes for beef, veal, lamb, and pork.

Objectives:

  • Learn about mise en place for beef.
  • Understand the elements of beef and lamb fabrication.
  • Identify cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork.
  • Cook, plate, and serve beef, pork, lamb, and veal.
  • Learn how to braise meat.
  • Understand the principles of curing pork.
Cooking Lab: Chateaubriand

Create a creamy, delicious layer of béarnaise sauce with thin, carefully placed slices of filet—seared to perfection—accompanied by olive-shaped château potatos.

Cooking Lab: Rack of Lamb

In this cooking lab, you'll create a French rack of lamb served with mint chutney.

Additional Unit Material

Video: Filet with Red Wine Mushrooms

Unit 6

Poultry and Game

This course will teach you how to add variety to your diet by preparing different cuts of poultry and cooking it using various methods. 

Objective:

  • Identify various cuts of poultry.
  • Learn about poultry fabrication and trussing.
  • Roast, deep poach, and sauté poultry to experiment with different flavors.
  • Identify types of game.
Cooking Lab: Stuffed Chicken Breast

Prepare a chicken breast stuffed with cheese, olives, and herbs. Then, prepare chicken breasts using the alternative recipes and presentation options presented in this cooking lab.

Additional Unit Material

Video: Stuffed Chicken Breast

Unit 7

Fish and Shellfish

In this course, you’ll learn to take advantage of the wealth of available fish and shellfish by experimenting with the many preparation techniques to create light, healthful fish and shellfish dishes.

Objectives:

  • Identify, clean, and prepare fresh and saltwater fish and shellfish.
  • Boil, broil, and fry fish and shellfish.
Cooking Lab: Striped Sea Bass

In this cooking lab, prepare a whole striped sea bass stuffed with herbs.

Additional Unit Material

Video: Seared Tuna

Unit 8

Grains, Legumes, and Pasta

This course will familiarize you with the many flavors and textures of legumes, grains, and pasta.

Objectives:

  • Identify different types of grains, legumes, and pasta.
  • Cook, simmer, and sort grains.
  • Use dried and fresh legumes.
  • Make your own fresh pasta, and determine what sauce goes best with your fresh, homemade pasta.
  • Cook pasta.
Cooking Lab: Sesame Shiitake Noodles

Cook Sesame Shiitake Noodles, a delicious, robust dish with garlic, ginger, and shiitake mushrooms. Select a grater, and learn about different types of ginger.

Unit 9

Baking and Pastry

This course will teach you how to create delicious baked goods.

Objectives:

  • Identify the ingredients most often used in baking.
  • Identify the differences between yeast breads and quick breads.
  • Cook sugar and whip egg whites.
  • Prepare pastries, cookies, dessert sauces, and creams.
Cooking Lab: Phyllo Pear Tart

In this cooking lab, create a delicious phyllo pear tart with a beautiful presentation and pair it with dessert wine!

Unit 10

Breakfast, Garde Manger, and World Cuisines

In this final course of gourmet cooking, you’ll learn about breakfast delights, tasty sandwiches, appetizers, and hors d’oeuvres, as well as culinary practices around the world.

Objectives:

  • Learn about dairy products and eggs.
  • Make eggs, omelets, soufflés, and quiche.
  • Compare a soft-boiled egg and a poached egg.
  • Describe the primary elements of garde manger.
  • Create charcuterie.
  • Learn about the culinary traditions of the Americas, Asia, and Europe.
Cooking Lab: Preparation of an Entire Meal

In this cooking lab, prepare an entire meal of red cabbage and spinach salad, salmon in parchment with shrimp and peppers, and chartreuse melon with berries. Each piece of the meal will come out on time and delicious!


Computer Specifications
You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows XP® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a Caterer sample lesson, click here.

Caterer Program Details

Penn Foster will help you gain the knowledge and skills you need for a career as a caterer:

  • Kitchen techniques and preparations
  • Food styles and being a culinary professional
  • Types of meat and seafood
  • Baking and pastry
Catering Training Online

Caterers prepare and serve food and beverages for events and banquets in restaurants, hospitals or nursing homes, and even on cruise ships. Here are a few qualities that effective caterers have in common:

  • Communicative: You like to take charge of projects and organize tasks for many people.
  • Organized: Keep food and cooking ingredients in the right places.
  • Flexible: Catering businesses often have irregular hours.
  • Healthy: You are conscious of healthy eating and living habits for you and your loved ones.
  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.

I want to encourage anyone wishing to do a program with Penn Foster. You will get assistance and gain tremendous benefit from Penn Foster.

- Claudia W., Caterer graduate

I just recently graduated, and this program gave me the courage to start my own business. I would definitely recommend Penn Foster to others. Their support was tremendous. Thank you all for the encouragement... Penn Foster rocks!!!

- Dahlia R., Caterer graduate

We make sure you have everything you need:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Books and learning aids, including video tutorials and The Professional Chef textbook
  • Study Planner App to customize your study plans and keep track of your progress
  • Instructional support from our world-class faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online campus, plus immediate membership in the Caterer academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

Do you need previous experience in catering to enroll in Penn Foster’s Caterer Career Diploma Program?

No, you do not need previous experience to enroll in the Caterer Program. This program is designed to teach you the professional skills of catering and gourmet cooking, including using proper kitchen techniques and preparations.

More FAQs >

* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook," 2014-15 Edition, Chefs and Head Cooks, on the Internet here.

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