Segments in this Video

Michelle Talarico's Start in Catering (02:59)


Tom Duening interviews Michelle Talarico, a 20 year catering veteran and co-owner, Picnic Basket, Cravings and Buffalo Gals Catering companies. Talarico explains how she got into the catering business and bought her first company.

Entrepreneurial Potential (02:50)

Michelle Talarico was an English major at Colorado College when she began her food service career. She found out that she was good at managing people, staying calm in a crisis and organizing. She especially enjoys being part of the celebrations of people's lives.

Passion (01:49)

Michelle Talarico explains that one must have a true passion for the food business. For a person to survive in such a challenging occupation, he or she must love the work.

Timing and Dumb Luck (02:18)

Michelle Talarico bought her business in 1989 for $4,000. She explains that the economic downturn of the time made this opportunity possible.

What's In A Name? (01:31)

Michelle Talarico bought The Picnic Basket, an existing catering company, in 1989. Although their was little business, she agrees that buying an existing business have her an advantage over a from-scratch start-up catering company.

Marketing a New Business (03:32)

Michelle Talarico explains how she and her partner marketed the Picnic Basket when they took over as new owners. They changed little at first, and listened to what their customers wanted. She was reluctant at first to spend money on marketing, but it has paid off.

Hard Decisions (01:42)

After 10 years in business, Talarico made the difficult decision to close the deli side of their food operation. It accounted for 80% of their labor dollars without generating much profit. Customers pushed back, but Talarico thinks it was the right choice.

Expansion - Capturing a Broader Market (02:54)

Talarico explains how Cravings Five Star Events and Buffalo Gals were born. Each was a specialization and each was successful in appealing to a larger market.

Personality Traits Essential for Catering (02:35)

Successful catering company owner Michelle Talarico says essential personality traits for catering are a love of people, the ability to thrive under pressure and manage crises, and energy and perseverance.

Lessons Learned from the Journey (02:52)

Tom Duening recaps Michelle Talarico's journey from student to successful entrepreneur, emphasising key points for success.

The Entrepreneur's Advice (02:49)

In preparation for the advice segment, Tom Duening reminds viewers of the progression of events leading up to Michelle Talarico's current position as owner and CEO of the Picnic Basket, Cravings and Buffalo Gals Catering companies.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Early Challenges & Opportunities (03:06)

Caterer Michelle Talarico says as a new business owner with no experience, she was fortunate to have contacts from her job and existing customers. Her contacts made certain opportunities possible, and the company turned those opportunities into growth.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Service (02:03)

Caterer Michelle Talarico talks about the importance of the culture of respect, which includes employees and vendors.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Reality Check (03:17)

Caterer Michelle Talarico worked long hours to build her business. Talarico emphasises the importance of setting aside money and paying taxes on time.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Get Experience (01:44)

Caterer Michelle Talarico says a person going into the catering business might be in for some unpleasant surprises if they did not have experience or a background in hospitality.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Making a Profit (01:05)

Caterer Michelle Talarico says it takes 3-5 years to start to see a profit. Entrepreneurs should expect to see fluctuations in this industry.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Deadline Driven Industry (02:16)

Caterer Michelle Talarico talks about the stress of meeting customers expectations. She explains the effects of having a time intensive career on personal time and family life.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Licensing (02:10)

Caterer Michelle Talarico explains some of the regulatory requirements of the catering industry, including licenses and liability insurance.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Facilities & Staff (01:24)

Caterer Michelle Talarico outlines facilities, vehicles and staffing numbers for her multiple operations.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Expansion (02:01)

Caterer Michelle Talarico describes the progression and decision making that went into expansion of her catering business. Branding was an important aspect of growth.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Branding (02:56)

Caterer Michelle Talarico explains how marketing became important as she sought to expand her market and go upscale. She explains how sensitivity to her 'downscale' brand became important.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Building on Current Strengths (03:10)

Caterer Michelle Talarico explains the role of the country's economic downturn in the success of her third brand. She talks about trial and error in the process of growing the business.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Equipment (02:39)

Caterer Michelle Talarico explains the progression from a small kitchen to her current facilities. She and her partner could not borrow money in the beginning, and now she sees that as a good thing. Talarico talks about making do with the bare minimum at first, and adding equipment as it becomes financially feasible.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Staff (04:36)

Caterer Michelle Talarico summarizes the staff needed to run her businesses, including human resources, operations, service staff and more. She spends some time explaining the role of captains in service staff.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Training (01:40)

Caterer Michelle Talarico says a well trained staff is vital. She is personally involved with training and leads by example.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Industry Support (01:33)

Caterer Michelle Talarico explains resources that support the industry. Trade associations and seminars help keep caterers up to date on industry trends. The Internet has become an important communications tool. is a good resource.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Advertising (02:40)

Michelle Talarico spends a great deal of money on marketing her catering companies. She talks about the reasoning behind this. is the company's umbrella website. Advertising is done via email blasts and includes coupons.

The Entrepreneur's Advice: Final Thoughts (01:38)

Michelle Talarico is highly involved in the community; she is the "face" of her catering company. She advises aspiring caterers: be a good listener; be patient; retain your passion; stay "hands- on" and keep realistic expectations. She says she is available online for information and mentoring.

Summary of the Entrepreneur's Advice (04:12)

Dr. Tom Duening offers a summary of the discussion with catering company owner Michelle Talarico, highlighting important points for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Starting a Catering Business: The StartUp Experience

Part of the Series : The StartUp Experience
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $129.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $194.93
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Picnic Basket Catering began in 1989 when Michelle Talarico and Kathy Dreiling combined their passion for food and quest for adventure and opened the doors to an innovative yet affordable catering alternative. Eleven years later they launched a sister company called Cravings to address the need for upscale social catering for everything from weddings to galas. And then they expanded again in 2005 with Buffalo Gals. Each company offers something a little different, but they are all successful because each focuses on pleasing and retaining customers. In this program, Michelle discusses the three most important things every caterer should do; how to expand using your strengths; valuable online sources of education and networking; why you should treat vendors like customers; why spending half of every dollar earned on marketing can be very wise in the beginning; why listening is one of the most important skills needed to succeed; and more. (72 minutes)

Length: 73 minutes

Item#: BVL47869

ISBN: 978-1-62102-484-2

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.