Catering for 150 to 200

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I have been ask to prepare food for a 50th Anniversary dinner. They want potato salad, baked beans and cole slaw. How much should I charge. I figured the food alone will be $250.00. Help!!!
 
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It won't be anywhere near 250, go to a restaurant supply store (we have Chef Smart here) for #10 cans of baked beans to Doctor up, cabbage heads, large sacks of potatoes and large jars of mayo. Everything else is small quantities and can be found at Aldi or wherever. It's not as daunting as it seems, be sure to charge appropriately for your time and travel.
 
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I have been ask to prepare food for a 50th Anniversary dinner. They want potato salad, baked beans and cole slaw. How much should I charge. I figured the food alone will be $250.00. Help!!!
Who is doing the meat?

mimi
 
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Once upon a time there was a brilliant chef on this site.

He always answered questions like yours with great math as well as advice to back it up.

Sometimes he made the OP angry as he assumed if said OP was REALLY a hospitality pro the OP would have developed a thick skin (something that can make or break  you).

His name was Pete McCracken and sadly he was called home (followed that brite white light to the great kitchen in the sky).

He is sorely missed...not only for his great PROFESSIONAL advice but also his dry sense of humor.

Pete left a legacy of great advice on Chef Talk.

My best advice to you is to stop the childish panic attack and search out his advice.

Use the advanced search feature and everything you need to know will be there.

mimi

Here's to ya, Pete  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/drinkbeer.gif.
 
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Forgive me but you sound like you've never taken on anything like this before in your life.
Further, how can you expect to get accurate advice when you offered basically no facts about the event,the most important being the number of people attending?
Besides the late great Pete's posts, as our own wise and wonderful Mimi
has suggested, there is a wealth of posts on this site about that very subject. A simple search in the archives for catering pricing will return many useful discussions on it.
 
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Forgive me but you sound like you've never taken on anything like this before in your life.
Further, how can you expect to get accurate advice when you offered basically no facts about the event,the most important being the number of people attending?
Besides the late great Pete's posts, as our own wise and wonderful Mimi
has suggested, there is a wealth of posts on this site about that very subject. A simple search in the archives for catering pricing will return many useful discussions on it.
I'm sure he's not the only one who knows how to figure that out. 

Why not ask them a few questions?

How many people are going to be at the party?

Are you going to have it completed before you get there?

Are you going to have to set anything up? Or are you just bringing your product?

I wouldn't worry about how much you charge, worry about how tasty your product is, and how well its organized. 

if this is your first time doing something like this, go in there with your product complete, and be confident everyone is going to enjoy your food. 

The quality of your product and the value it provides for your customer is what will decide what its worth for them to pay. 

They'll ask you how much you want for your services, and I'd suggest basing your profit off the perceived value. If they didn't really eat it and its not that great, i'd ask for the price you paid for the food, and work on your recipes. 

If they loved it and its all gone, charge 2x - 4x what you paid, because you won't seem greedy for doing so, especially if they loved it, it'll be worth it for them to accommodate your services. 

I hope i've helped a little bit. Please feel free to ask questions. I currently run a small catering business. 
 
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Alex.
By the time you walk into the venue for an event the quotes have been accepted and the contract is signed and the check has cleared the bank.
No way would I refund one dime unless there was some sort of disaster concerning my services.
Plus I require all the money up front ... half when the contract is signed and the rest 2 weeks before the date.

Do you really believe that the financials are NBD?
Unless I make a nice profit I won't accept a job and I would not accept a job unless my food and service are up to par.
To run this type of biz without a solid knowledge of how and why we figure the quote is just begging for failure.

mimi
 
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One more comment and I will shut up (maybe;-)

A private chef deals with quotes routinely as part of the job.
Of course everyone has questions now and again and being helpful is what we do on this site.
Service with a smile.

Just sayin' ya know?

mimi
 
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Alex.
By the time you walk into the venue for an event the quotes have been accepted and the contract is signed and the check has cleared the bank.
No way would I refund one dime unless there was some sort of disaster concerning my services.
Plus I require all the money up front ... half when the contract is signed and the rest 2 weeks before the date.

Do you really believe that the financials are NBD?
Unless I make a nice profit I won't accept a job and I would not accept a job unless my food and service are up to par.
To run this type of biz without a solid knowledge of how and why we figure the quote is just begging for failure.

mimi
For me, its not about the profit. That will come if the customer enjoys the service and the product enough. I'd rather have a customer loving my food and what I do for a living and pay what he thinks its worth, then over charge, because me personally I don't run a catering business, so I wouldn't know exactly how much to charge at this point, but eventually I would think that I could figure out a formula for how much I feel each person eating is worth, or each plate that I serve etc.

finances are important, without them, I couldn't do anything, but I feel they aren't the MOST important part of the business. Correct me if I'm wrong please! I'd love to see what you think because I feel you have more experience in this field than I do.

Maybe for a returning customer I would require money up front and half etc because I know that they already are in favor of what I can do.

But a new customer, I feel that I should be able to show them what I can do, because I know my service is the best and more enjoyable for the customer than others, therefor bringing up my value, allowing me to charge more possibly than I originally would have could be an option after they are happy with my products.

Alex
 
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First you need to know the number of guests within five percent.  Then Pete's formula for costing that you can find in other threads.  Sorry to find out about Pete, he knew what he was talking about.
 
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@AlexTheChef  .... I see by your pix (and a few of your previous posts) that you work the BOH someplace.

Just one question.

Assuming you are employed in a kitchen owned by someone else (otherwise you would be Alex the homeless guy  ;-) ....who keeps their eye on the P&L ?

Because I am of the school that considers a chef only a cook until he/she can run a kitchen to make a profit.

And since you don't seem to care about profit when it comes down to your side jobs.... who is minding the money at your FT job?

Just wondering....

mimi
 
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Yes I am wandering OT and want to apologize to the OP for doing so.

@Emmielhayes  ... have you had a chance to search out and read re your question about costing out a job?

mimi
 
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@AlexTheChef  .... I see by your pix (and a few of your previous posts) that you work the BOH someplace.

Just one question.

Assuming you are employed in a kitchen owned by someone else (otherwise you would be Alex the homeless guy  ;-) ....who keeps their eye on the P&L ?

Because I am of the school that considers a chef only a cook until he/she can run a kitchen to make a profit.

And since you don't seem to care about profit when it comes down to your side jobs.... who is minding the money at your FT job?

Just wondering....

mimi
I am pretty much homeless yeah, but that doesn't change my skill level. I do work BOH yes, and i'm not sure what your acronyms stand for. P&L? FT? Not sure what your intentions of those questions are, as you never answered mine.

And everyone's definition of a chef is different, however I agree to some degree that your definition is relatively close, but not exactly correct.

Alex.
 
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I am pretty much homeless yeah, but that doesn't change my skill level. I do work BOH yes, and i'm not sure what your acronyms stand for. P&L? FT? Not sure what your intentions of those questions are, as you never answered mine.
And everyone's definition of a chef is different, however I agree to some degree that your definition is relatively close, but not exactly correct.
Alex.
I just spit up my Special K
 
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....Please feel free to ask questions. I currently run a small catering business. 
 
 ....because me personally I don't run a catering business, so I wouldn't know exactly how much to charge at this point...
Uhhhhhh? What? 
 
And everyone's definition of a chef is different
Nope. A Chef is just a boss of other cooks. AKA Sous-Chef, Chef de Cuisine, Executive Chef, etc... 

Pretty standard definition across the board but many americans use the term incorrectly to describe a cook who works in finer cuisine. IMO, this is mostly because of reality TV shows from recent years and their misuse of the term and TV "Chefs" who call themselves "Chefs" even if they have no crew to run nor have ever supervised a crew of cooks. Americans also have some sort of aversion to the term "cook" as if it is only used as a job title for fast food cooks. 
 
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To answer the question at hand. The simplest answer is to determine how much of a portion each person is estimated at eating and multiply that amount by the amount of guests are attending. Find the weight of each type of food you are preparing that the average person will put on their plate and when you multiply that number with your guests, the amount of food you will need will be apparent. Add an extra 5-10% to be safe. You will also need to know your cost by weight of each ingredient used. If you want to determine how much you should charge your client, the simplest way (but not always the best way due to obvious complications) would be to find your total food cost based on those numbers and times that by 3 to set a price. 

I'm sure if you do search for Pete's posts, as was advised, you will find many more eloquently and more detailed answers, as Pete's posts were basically some of the best education I have received on the subject. That's the simplest way to answer OP's question though. 
 
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"If you want to determine how much you should charge your client, the simplest way (but not always the best way due to obvious complications) would be to find your total food cost based on those numbers and times that by 3 to set a price. 

I'm sure if you do search for Pete's posts, as was advised, you will find many more eloquently and more detailed answers,

as Pete's posts were basically some of the best education I have received on the subject. That's the simplest way to answer

OP's question though. "

Umm....not to put too fine a point on it but PeteM was not in the times-3 camp as I recall and in fact thought it a

good way to go broke. He believed, as I and several great chefs/caterers in here do also, that the only effective way to price an 

event is to list out all your costs, starting with food costs, then adding in your fixed expenses, variable expenses such 

as rentals, disposable ware, mileage etc, then your labor help, your own labor and finally your desired (for the business) 

profit. (usually a percentage) You then divide by the number of people to get price per person, if you are presenting it that way. 

The problem with ball-parking, times 3 and other thumbnail methods,  is that food costs can vary widely-- for example if you

are serving some expensive cuts, multiplying by a factor can put your price too high. But it can also end up too low, depending on....

your other expenses. 

Having to rent a bunch of stuff for instance, will put your variable costs much higher than normal, in which case multiplying by 2.5 

or 3 may not even cover your actual expenses, let alone any profit. In other words, it would lose you money. 

Conversely, if you're serving hot dogs and potato salad for 4 hours, at dinner time, the event is 45 miles away and you're providing

all disposable paper and utensils, I can almost guarantee if you multiply food cost times 3 you're gonna paint yourself into a red corner.

The bottom line is that what your food is costing has no direct relation on any other aspects of delivering the event. 

It wouldn't be unlike saying that to estimate your food costs, simply multiply your labor times 4, or sommat.

Just doesn't make sense, as they have little to nothing  to do with each other. 
 

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