Appetizer catering pricing

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Joined Jun 7, 2008
I was hired to cater for an event and the client wants 3 appetizers, served family style. The items will be grilled veggies, stuffed mushrooms and a couscous salad, There won't be any crazy expensive ingredients, I thing the most expensive will be cheese for the stuffed mushrooms and sundried tomatoes for the cous cous salad, Probably asparagus if that is one of the grilled veggies. I might do a white wine sauce for the mushrooms that call for mascarpone and a bit of truffle oil. The party is for 50 ppl but she asked that each appetizer should serve around 25ppl. I believe my food cost will be around $90-100.

Initially I thought about setting my food cost at 25%, which would set my price at $360-400 ($7.20 - $8/person). Not sure if she'll agree as she is making the entrees herself and hired me because she wanted some different appetizers other than cheese/cracker trays, dips, etc.

Thought about charging $250 for the whole thing (flat $5 per person), since family style is a lot less labor than making individual hors d'ouvres. What is your opinion on that? I am in Charlotte, NC.
 
375
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
Well for one, I think you could get away with a lower food cost on your end. $100 seems a bit high for what you have to prepare. Also, the labor factor is only slightly less, considering the stuffed mushrooms are basically a passed item style and the other two may be less labor plating and serving but require the same prep and cooking times. $5/per person for three appetizers is a good deal, even more so if you are solid on the $100 product cost for you. That's only $150 profit to include labor, travel, ect. Also I'm assuming that is the price without taxes added. A lot of restaurants and catering venues will charge much more per piece per person than your rates.
 
5
10
Joined Jun 7, 2008
Well for one, I think you could get away with a lower food cost on your end. $100 seems a bit high for what you have to prepare. Also, the labor factor is only slightly less, considering the stuffed mushrooms are basically a passed item style and the other two may be less labor plating and serving but require the same prep and cooking times. $5/per person for three appetizers is a good deal, even more so if you are solid on the $100 product cost for you. That's only $150 profit to include labor, travel, ect. Also I'm assuming that is the price without taxes added. A lot of restaurants and catering venues will charge much more per piece per person than your rates.
Hey Seoul Food, thanks for replying. Yes, $100 seems high, I have a tendency to over estimate quantities, but I think I'll spend less at the end, probably around $70 or so. Veggies will be marked on a grill and finished in the oven, cous cous salad involves some chopping work. The most labor intensive will be the mushrooms. I think I can have everything done in about 3 hours, working by myself.
 
2,311
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
This is a caterer's nightmare. They want enough food for 25 people while 50 people will be at the party. I would love to see their face when you tell them the price. I wouldn't touch this with a ten foot pole.
 
3,000
538
Joined May 5, 2010
This is a caterer's nightmare. They want enough food for 25 people while 50 people will be at the party. I would love to see their face when you tell them the price. I wouldn't touch this with a ten foot pole.

...and the client's face when halfway through the event the appetizers runs out.
 
900
529
Joined Mar 1, 2017
This is a caterer's nightmare. They want enough food for 25 people while 50 people will be at the party. I would love to see their face when you tell them the price. I wouldn't touch this with a ten foot pole.
...and the client's face when halfway through the event the appetizers runs out.
Hello Safeway, Deli Dept please. I have told people, in some cases it's really not worth using a Caterer.
I was waiting for some responses like these. I'm glad I'm not the only one who saw it this way.

I think the OP needs to have a very frank and fact-specific conversation with the client, especially in regards to the quantity of apps.

Good luck. :)
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
A percentage less than 1 per person may not be out of the question for the apps depending on what else they are serving. In a passed situation, yeah you would probably want to count for at least one per person but it sounds like these are supplemental family style foods. If the host is doing another set of sides/apps themselves than that may be cause for the lowered amount.
 
1,452
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
Well with apps its all about quantities to fit the needs of the group, which in turn is firstly about the setting. Like time of day, are the apps standing alone, or are they accompanying a full meal, how long before eating will they be served, etc. Theres a difference between accompany a meal, apps a few hours after main meal hour, and apps served at dinner time.
In this instance if these apps are served at 5 or 6 pm, by them selves, IMO youre way under the need and will likely run out of apps. Clients are rarely capable of telling the caterer how many of something they need, thats your job.
They also think they know setups-- so many times Ive walked in to a venue thats " all set up for you" only to have to take the client aside and say "umm, this setup wont work."
As far as apps in this case, im visualizing a price range of 6.50 to 7..50 per person, assuming youre a bit high on your food cost estimate, and for sake of argument, around 150 apps, not 75.
Making more isnt that much more work once you get going, but you WILL have to reestimate food cost.
If your apps are good, they'll get devoured. Even more so if there is to be alcohol present. :)
 
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