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ELLEN'S KITCHEN
how much to charge..??
Kari
11/05/08
Hello Ellen,
I just catered a wedding for a family friend for 200 people.
We're wondering what would be a fair price for my services.
The total cost of the food, 2 table rentals and a few bowls and utensils were just under $1000.
The main entree was soup with salad and bread.
The soup was prepared at a local cafe so I was just in charge of picking it up, making the salad dressing and preparing bread, soup and salad (with mand. oranges and raspberries).
Appetizers were from 4-5 with dinner at 6:30.
I served a bruchetta basket along with pesto dip, herbed cream cheese rolled in salami with crackers, large vegetable tray with basil dip and a herbed snack mix and olives.
There was a lot of planning involved as it was held in a lodge with the capacity of 125 plus it was a Quaker wedding (meaning most is held in silence....thank God we had good weather so the ceremony could be held outside).
We also served the dessert which was made by the brides mother (pumpkin cheesecake...mmm).
What should I charge for my services?
ellen
11/05/08
Hi, Kari,

This is a new one on me; I can't imagine doing a paid event with no prior arrangement about costs. Plus it is not clear- did you pay for the soup, and all the other foods, or did the family already pay for part of the dinner and you paid for only part? Did you have paid helpers? Were you responsible for all the set up and cleanup, or what part?

The usual catering charge is 3-4 times the flat cost of all the food, often with some extra in pass through costs for additional services and rentals.

If it is just your personal time and body presence, that is a different issue.

Generally I don't answer catering questions on this board, as it is for home cooks. If you want to email me, see the udpates/questions contact link at the very bottom of the page.

Kari
11/06/08
Hi Ellen,
for some reason I'm not able to send an email...I tried earlier this morning...???
This was just a one time event for a family friend.
I was given $1000 to start with for food which included 2 table rentals. This did not include the soup. I spent pretty much the entire $1000.
I was in charge of everything that had to do with food as far as purchasing, prep, setting/clean up.
A couple days before the event, I noticed she ordered twice as much soup as we really needed. I worked with the cafe in correcting this and picked up the soup the day of the event.
I had 6 helpers. We were in charge of setting everything up (w/o direction from the wedding party), serving apps, dinner and dessert, then clean up (they did have a couple of family members come in for about 1/2 to help wash dishes.
I know I can't really charge full price due to my inexperience.......but, it went very well.
DONNA ARMSTEAD
11/06/08
i would like to know how much to charge for fixing 60 servings of spaghetti 60servings of salad 60 seting up bread seting up water spoons and the works for a school i have been in the food business for over 23 years some one ask me to cook for them and now i am thinking about starting a catering i am a very good cook i cook all the time for family and friends and a good cook if i say so myself.
ellen
11/06/08
OK. About $2400 total.

$100 per helper gets paid out right away, you pay off the rest of the food costs, and you have a few hundred for your time, which is less than you should have had, had you done all this in advance. AND you don't EVER take on a job like this without a written agreement again, or Escoffier will rise up from the grave and take off your right hand with his cleaver...

David Griggs
11/23/08
Ellen, I agree with your advice 100 percent. BUT, knowing people.... I believe the bride/groom intended ONLY to spend the $1000.00 already aloted, and allow for 'friendship' to carry it out. Any additional 'bill' will only end their relationship permanently. It's not right... but its what will happen.
ellen
11/23/08
Donna, somehow your note posted after I checked this, sorry for the delay.
What wipes out new caterers is the business end of the business, not the cooking end. That you need to ask about these costs is a sign you need more business experience before even thinking about opening your own business. If you are serious, get a job with a caterer for at least a year.

David, nobody can afford "friends" who are willing to cost them a thousand dollars without even any agreement- and that is what this lady is out between paying the help and the extra costs. If this ends the relationship, it is a cheap price to pay for a close shave.

elizabeth
04/20/10
Hi Ellen: I've been asked to do an appetizer only catering for a vineyard. I will make 4 apps (unknown at this time but nothing insanely expensive like seafood/steak etc..) The owner cannot give me a number she says 200-300 people may attend. So I'm going to call it 250. I will travel about 10 miles (rt) prep, set up, and have one helper. I was thinking about 750.00 but would like your opinion. What do you think?
Thanks so much.
E
ellen
04/21/10
The usual charge in the catering world for this would be about $10 per person; yep, $1 per bite, basically. Also, a pro would do 8 appies for 250 people. And you need 6 servers, not one to set up, clean up and serve 250 people.

Maybe you want to rethink this?

eliza
06/03/10
i am thinking of starting a small home business proving family sized casseroles and crock pot meals. how would i go about charging for this in order to make enough profit to be worth my time?
ellen
06/03/10
There are several threads with this type question. In most states it is illegal to sell food prepared in your home kitchen; you can cook in the client's kitchen or a licensed kitchen, In most states you need a food hanfdler's license and a business license. You nee liability insurance, you can be sued and lose your house or money if someone says your food made them sick.
You basicall charge 3-4 times the cost of food, depending on how much work you put in.
Anthony little
06/05/10
Drumette
I just try figure How many cases Drumette chicken wings would feed a 180+ Please help
I'm thinking two cases should feed them at 4-6 wings per serving. Ps not sure on how many Drumette comes in a case. Waiting for your replay thanks
ellen
06/07/10
If it is the only meat at a mealtime function, you need 1/2 -3/4 pound each; if it is the only meat appetizer, allow 6,; if there are other meat appetizers, allow at least 4.
Jon martinez
03/26/11
I would like to knoq how much I should charge for a buffet style catered event for 300 people with a split menu half american and half latin cuisines.
ellen
03/26/11
Jon, if you read this thread, you can see that this question indicates you are not ready to take on this job.

The usual charge is 3-4 times the food costs, depending on whether you are dropping off or also responsible for set up serving and cleaning up. An event this size requires a MINIMUM of 20 people cooking and serving, at least 6 serving lines, etc.

See these pro boards:
chef2chef.com
cheftalk.com

 
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