A co-worker wedding...HELP! Need advice

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Joined Jul 6, 2021
I need some advice. I am a amateur cook. Basically I am in culinary for my AAS degree. Anyways a co worker ask me the other day of I would cook for his wedding. And asking how much would I charge for me to do it myself. I never done it. (Cater)before it will 30 personal I have cooked for large groups before . I told would need a team and kitchen and its depend on what you for you want me prepare. I don't want to under cut myself but I want to make sure I do it properly. The Co worker have tried a dish is prepared before. Which is a reason why he asked. What should I Do?
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
Best advice? Turn down the job and wait until you have acquired sufficient experience to handle such a job. Even then, I would highly recommend that you work for a caterer for at least a few months so you will have a ball park understanding of what's involved. Even pro caterers with years of experience can have trouble handling any one of the countless problems that come with even the simplest of catering jobs.

Its been a while since I offered catering but, here's a short list of the things you will need in order to cater a wedding, even a small-ish wedding.

- Access to a commercial kitchen, including commercial grade storage, especially refrigeration. You cannot and should not do this out of a home kitchen or use residential appliances;
- At least 1 person to assist who knows their way around a commercial kitchen and knows food prep etc;
- Two people who know how to wait tables and/or properly run a buffet, if that's the format;
- Table cloths, utensils, glassware, napkins, place settings, champagne glasses etc;
- Service items such as hotel pans, sterno burners, serving utensils,
- A transportation plan from where the food is prepared to the venue where its served. This includes any on-site preparation i.e. gas operated hot plates/burners/grills for any items prepared on site. Remember, there are a lot of food items that do not travel well or keep well even for short periods of time after they're made. Point in fact, Alfredo, mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes. chicken breast, fish etc. You will need an effective plan if any such food is planned to be offered.

There are few other members who have more catering experience that me. I'm sure they'd be willing to fill in the details that I've missed here.

Good luck. :)
 
4
1
Joined Jul 6, 2021
Best advice? Turn down the job and wait until you have acquired sufficient experience to handle such a job. Even then, I would highly recommend that you work for a caterer for at least a few months so you will have a ball park understanding of what's involved. Even pro caterers with years of experience can have trouble handling any one of the countless problems that come with even the simplest of catering jobs.

Its been a while since I offered catering but, here's a short list of the things you will need in order to cater a wedding, even a small-ish wedding.

- Access to a commercial kitchen, including commercial grade storage, especially refrigeration. You cannot and should not do this out of a home kitchen or use residential appliances;
- At least 1 person to assist who knows their way around a commercial kitchen and knows food prep etc;
- Two people who know how to wait tables and/or properly run a buffet, if that's the format;
- Table cloths, utensils, glassware, napkins, place settings, champagne glasses etc;
- Service items such as hotel pans, sterno burners, serving utensils,
- A transportation plan from where the food is prepared to the venue where its served. This includes any on-site preparation i.e. gas operated hot plates/burners/grills for any items prepared on site. Remember, there are a lot of food items that do not travel well or keep well even for short periods of time after they're made. Point in fact, Alfredo, mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes. chicken breast, fish etc. You will need an effective plan if any such food is planned to be offered.

There are few other members who have more catering experience that me. I'm sure they'd be willing to fill in the details that I've missed here.

Good luck. :)
Thank you for the advice and knowledge. I explained to him at more to it then just me cooking. Which I don't have a issue with. But this is different than cooking in a barracks or for a company
 
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Joined Jun 11, 2013
Thank you for the advice and knowledge. I explained to him at more to it then just me cooking. Which I don't have a issue with. But this is different than cooking in a barracks or for a company
I cannot agree more with sgsvirgil.

I've seen too many people try to cut their teeth on something by doing friends a favor at a wedding. This included catering, photography, etc. It's one of the most emotionally charged events in a person's life. It's also one of the most expensive and sometimes people want to save money and ask for favors . . . but, they still expect everything to be perfect. And, there will be at least one person continually insisting It's the most important of day of their lives!. It often ends up ruining friendships. Plus, there are the issues of liability and this can be dangerous when it comes down to food poisoning, food allergies, and worst of all . . . alcohol consumption.

While I was in graduate school, I worked on a catering staff for over a year and 95% of what we did were wedding receptions . . . often 2-3 a weekend. Sometimes more. When they go bad, they go REALLY BAD! I cannot recall how many times we were screamed at . . . including the guests. People would even demand that we make them a special meal (Uh. This reception is a buffet.). I even got roughed up a couple of times while bartending when I had to cut people off that had already had too much to drink.

Your friend may be the nicest person in the world, but wait until parents get involved . . . especially the mothers. They can make your life . . . well . . . I'm too polite to post the comment. The planning for the last wedding reception I did was initiated with the bridal couple, but they ended up abdicating everything to her mother (you would be surprised how often that happens) . . . and the woman was a nightmare. She demanded more and more. At the reception, she screamed at us about the wedding cake . . . which had been made, delivered, and assembled by a bakery and we had nothing to do with it. She insisted we fix it. We didn't do wedding cakes. At the end of the wedding reception, she announced that she didn't feel obligated to pay for anything she 'the whole thing was such a disaster."

Nancy Reagan was not talking about drugs with her "Just say 'No.'" . . . it was weddings.
 
4
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Joined Jul 6, 2021
I cannot agree more with sgsvirgil.

I've seen too many people try to cut their teeth on something by doing friends a favor at a wedding. This included catering, photography, etc. It's one of the most emotionally charged events in a person's life. It's also one of the most expensive and sometimes people want to save money and ask for favors . . . but, they still expect everything to be perfect. And, there will be at least one person continually insisting It's the most important of day of their lives!. It often ends up ruining friendships. Plus, there are the issues of liability and this can be dangerous when it comes down to food poisoning, food allergies, and worst of all . . . alcohol consumption.

While I was in graduate school, I worked on a catering staff for over a year and 95% of what we did were wedding receptions . . . often 2-3 a weekend. Sometimes more. When they go bad, they go REALLY BAD! I cannot recall how many times we were screamed at . . . including the guests. People would even demand that we make them a special meal (Uh. This reception is a buffet.). I even got roughed up a couple of times while bartending when I had to cut people off that had already had too much to drink.

Your friend may be the nicest person in the world, but wait until parents get involved . . . especially the mothers. They can make your life . . . well . . . I'm too polite to post the comment. The planning for the last wedding reception I did was initiated with the bridal couple, but they ended up abdicating everything to her mother (you would be surprised how often that happens) . . . and the woman was a nightmare. She demanded more and more. At the reception, she screamed at us about the wedding cake . . . which had been made, delivered, and assembled by a bakery and we had nothing to do with it. She insisted we fix it. We didn't do wedding cakes. At the end of the wedding reception, she announced that she didn't feel obligated to pay for anything she 'the whole thing was such a disaster."

Nancy Reagan was not talking about drugs with her "Just say 'No.'" . . . it was weddings.
Thank you.. Wow people are rude. He asked me to cook but I have him a 101 question. But he kept asking me how much would I charge. Your advice was very helpful.
 
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
Did you say this was for 30 people?
Im with others here and especially Loomchick. Of ALL the types of catering events you can do--high school sports or formal events, backyard get togethers, birthdays, funerals, corporate meetings, etc, weddings are by FAR the most challenging. Because even when the planning and timing and cuisine are perfect, because of the invariably high emotional factor, things can go south in a hurry, and as an inexperienced carerer (notice i said caterer, not cook) you can get in over your head pretty quickly. So I agree, youre no where near ready to handle a wedding, let alone a FRIENDS wedding, and let alone charging for it. And I think if you work for a caterer for a few events youll be very glad you didnt try the wedding.
 
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4
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Joined Jul 6, 2021
Did you say this was for 30 people?
Im with others here and especially Loomchick. Of ALL the types of catering events you can do--high school sports or formal events, backyard get togethers, birthdays, funerals, corporate meetings, etc, weddings are by FAR the most challenging. Because even when the planning and timing and cuisine are perfect, because of the invariably high emotional factor, things can go south in a hurry, and as an inexperienced carerer (notice i said caterer, not cook) you can get in over your head pretty quickly. So I agree, youre no where near ready to handle a wedding, let alone a FRIENDS wedding, and let alone charging for it. And I think if you work for a caterer for a few events youll be very glad you didnt try the wedding.
Thank you very much. I kept saying cook because that what he saying what he wanted me to do. I understand that when he kept saying that my mind automatically went to cater. Thank you again for your honesty.
 
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Joined Jun 7, 2021
I catered both of my daughter's weddings, on with savory dishes, one with all deserts. I had access to a approved commercial kitchen, and their refrigerators. Even with that, the desert reception theme took 3 days of me making, and storing pastries, cookies, cakes, pies, eclairs, muffins... It was done properly, and met code for safe food handling. Nothing required on-site heating.

The savory themed reception was for just thirty people. For that, I prepared thee, 22 lb smoked turkeys, mashed potatoes, dressing, corn on the cob, and apple pies for desert. To serve, I picked up disposable, aluminum chafing sets from GFS, with cans of Sterno. The sides went into the chafing dishes, with an instant read thermometer to keep the sides at safe temps, The turkey was carved immediately after smoking, and placed into electric turkey roasting pan inserts, and stored in the refrigerator, after rapidly cooling the inserts in ice water. The meat was divided into dark, and white meat portions in the pans, and heated to 145' F in the turkey juices for service. Keeping the turkey in its own broth insures moist, tender turkey. A trick for maintaining mashed potatoes is to keep 145' half N half, with butter added, to add to the spuds if they begin to dry out. Both receptions went off without a hitch, and were a huge success. But it was a ton of work, and I was fortunate to have an approved kitchen, with walk-in coolers available.

One thing I did that may be unusual: Though I made sure all of the food was well prepared, i made special dishes for the bride and groom,. While the guests ate turkey at that reception, daughter and son in law had roasted quail, with asparagus, riced potatoes with garlic butter and chives, with flan for desert. At the desert themed reception, daughter and son in law got Spaghetti, with seafood marinara that ha mussels, clams, seared scallops, calamari, and the meat from king crab. It turned out, unknown to me while I was making it, that the dish was my new son in law's favorite dish. He was from Tacoma Wa. and loved his seafood. Ham sandwiches were made onsite for helpers, A good spiral cut ham, and honey mustard was all that was needed for that.


This can be done, especially with a crowd of thirty. However, you need to dictate the meal, and service. And you need to plan everything ahead of time, as stated by the others. Hit up you friend for any table settings, and let someone else make the party favors. He will be paying for everything anyways, so task his fancily, and friends to get things up. You will the just need to provide good, and safe food, within his budget. And don't sell yourself short. Charge fair price for your labor, and shipping cost. You might suggest to him that M&M candies can be purchased online with personalized lettering.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
 
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Joined Jun 7, 2021
I apologize. I clicked on this thread under most recent threads. After posting, I though that this might be under professional catering. If the mods want to delete my post, I'll understand. Strike 2. I'll figure out how to navigate on this site yet.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
 
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Joined Dec 29, 2019
Thank you.. Wow people are rude. He asked me to cook but I have him a 101 question. But he kept asking me how much would I charge. Your advice was very helpful.
he thinks you are the cheapest option.
walk away or you will pay.
There is no job so great that you cannot afford to walk away from.
 

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