Catering for 400

Joined Sep 8, 2016
A friend wants me to cater an event for 400.
The menu is a summer salad, garlic herb roasted chicken breast with fresh green beans, and mashed potatoes.

How much food do i need and how much should I charge? Also, what formulas can i rm readily user to come up with these numbers? Help. ..
Joined Jun 23, 2015
Per Pete McCracken,


COSTS = Labor (including your own, if applicable) + Food + Utilities + Rent + Licenses + Tax reserve + Insurance + any other costs of doing business, including interest, depreciation, and all the hidden costs.

PROFIT DESIRED is up to you, what return on your investment do you want?

I would suggest you turn the job down. The questions you are asking indicate your over your head. There are many threads on this site, do a search on costing a catering job and pay attention. There is a lot of good advice.
Joined Jan 31, 2012
I tend to agree with Jimyra........let me put it another way: by the time a person gets enough hands on experience in event catering to actually bid, contract, shop, cook, and cater an event themselves, they already know how to shop for and price the event.

So to get the gig, THEN figure out how to price and estimate amounts is putting the cart before the horse.
Also a good way to lose money, if not go broke.
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Pretend this is a blackboard special and you are expecting 400 diners (don't forget % cushion "just in case" the band expects to be fed or Uncle Robert's newest arm candy threw a fit and gave him the cold shoulder until he agreed to take her ;-)

Assuming you always tack a cost of doing business figure to all menu items you have answered your own question.

Take that number and then tack on travel expenses and rentals and you should be good to go.

Almost forgot the wait staff....and the tip.

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Joined Oct 15, 2015
400 people is a lot if you haven't done a lot of large events.  As cold as it sounded, the previous replier was correct in saying that if you had the experience to do this job, you would know how much to charge.  When I first started I jumped out there and bid on jobs with 100 people and later learned how much I under charged and how difficult it was to pull off an event that size.  Almost a disaster (almost).  However, based on the menu, it doesn't sound like it's a major gala where people are expecting to be full or wowed by the caterer.  400 people with only 1 protein kinda says it's a very casual event and it's for a friend, so I'm assuming he / she knows your capabilities.  Point being, please consider all the facts when taking or not taking the job.  With that said I almost always charge per person and that price depends on where you are.  I'm in DC and the pricing here is a lot higher than many other areas.  It should be easy enough to find the median rate in your area.  And please don't forget to factor in the cost of staff, which you will need a lot of.

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