Catering for a NYE Charity Event

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by chefalice, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. chefalice

    chefalice

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Hello All,
    I am a first time poster. Great site! I was asked to cater a party for 150 on New Year's Eve at a hotel for St Jude's Children's Hospital. Event time is 9:00PM - 1:30 AM. They are getting $100.00 pp for each ticket. The caterer they usually use is asking $45.00 pp which includes staff, however, they made it clear they won't spend more than $35.00 pp as they are donating much of the proceeds to the charity. They are taking care of all beverages, bar and desserts. I have one assistant and will have to pay two banquet staff. I'd like to get my foot in the door with the hotel as they have no in-house caterer, however, I do want to make some profit. This is the menu; I would love your thoughts on it. Thank you.
    2 Passed Hot Hodos
    Hummus or Crostini Station w/ trio of
    2 Displayed Cold Hodos
    Pork Loin
    Roasted Garlic Mashed
    Haricot Vert with Gremolata
    Vegetarian Pasta Dish
    Rolls, butter
     
  2. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

    Messages:
    7,375
    Likes Received:
    69
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    150 x 35=5250

    who's providing eqiupment? decorations? table clothes?

    Is it buffet or plated? Do you have enough staff to pick up plates, pour water, clean spills, refill buffet......4 for 150 is not a lot? Who's setting tables? If there is confetti who cleans up that MESS?

    Who's doing the dishes? Are they using real glassware for everything?

    I'd throw in a green salad.

    Have you catered hi-end ($100pp) events before, your signiture says culinary instructor?
    Welcome to Cheftalk!
     
  3. chefalice

    chefalice

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    I am an instructor and a caterer, and have mainly done small events, but worked for large catering co. Here is the breakdown:
    Hotel is supplying all chafers, china, glassware, silverware, decorations, linens, flowers and two staff; one to oversee the bar and one for emptying trash, etc.
    I am hiring two banquet staff at $20.00 hr to refill and do passarounds. Do you not think that's enough staff? If I have to hire additional, do you think it's worth my while??
     
  4. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

    Messages:
    7,375
    Likes Received:
    69
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    absolutely worth your while, and yes I would add more staff.....

    150 and one bartender? 2-3 would be more like it.....is it full bar or beer, wine, soda?

    emptying trash, etc? what's included with that?

    150 guests, appetizers & dinner without knowing your staff....closer to 8 staff....
    dishwasher, 2 kitchen, 5-6 waitstaff.....especially before and during dinner, some can be cut loose after plates are clearred.
    $20 an hour, is there a minimum time? Do you need to use their staff or can you fill in with some of yours? Actually $20 an hour on a holiday is pretty good....grab the good ones ASAP.
     
  5. chefalice

    chefalice

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    I have to supply my own staff. They are supplying a dishwasher. They will have a full bar; the wine and beer are included in the ticket price and cash bar for mixzed drinks. I was told I will have nothing to do with the bar.They are doing a balloon drop and will be responsible for the clean up in that respect. They have a combi oven in their "kitchen area. So, you think even with hiring a total of four staff, it is still doable as far as price? As mentioned previously, their caterer that they always use would not come down in hios quote of $45.00 per person with fewer hodos; he was offering a bruschetta station, a pasta station, prime rib w/carving station, mashed potato bar, no veg, no salad and no vegetarian offering.
     
  6. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

    Messages:
    7,375
    Likes Received:
    69
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    do the math....

    staff, 4 for 6-8 hours $500-650
    food less than $1000, probably much less if you are buying commodity wholesale food.

    Other caterer possibly has more options.
    Stations mean more staffing.
     
  7. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

    Messages:
    3,355
    Likes Received:
    44
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Depends on how desperate you are to secure this hotel account. For 150 not enough staff.
    You are talking the most expensive night of the year, Charity begins at home. Their executive are knocking down big salaries to run charity. How about you. If you cant make yourself at least $1000,00 for the night in New York City on New Years Eve forget it.:chef: 1 person at bar for 150 is suicide.

    P/S I taught in New York for years, what school are you affiliated with .
     
  8. chefalice

    chefalice

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    I am not located in NYC. I'm in rural PA. Just to be clear, the hotel is supplying the bar staff, linens, chafers, china, flatware and all glasses. You are right about the charity issue. As it was explained (and stressed over and over) to me by the hotel owner and G.M, since they are planning on donating a large portion of ticket sales to St Jude's, they need to keep the cost below $35.00. They were already quoted $45.00 by a frequently-used caterer and he couldn't go any lower. So, yes, it is probably desperate on my part. If I impress them, I'll likely get more work, as well as promoting my business to their guests. I appreciate your expert opinion.
     
  9. just jim

    just jim

    Messages:
    1,317
    Likes Received:
    58
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    As shroom laid out, very doable.
    And as you have zero concerns over the bar, even better.
    Do not let them abuse you in a panic when they realize the one bartender cannot keep up, or your own service will suffer.
     
  10. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    If I understand it, you're only responsible for food and food-related staff.

    The hot hors d'ouvres service alone will require 5 wait staff (including you) as a bare minimum, with 4 to pass and a fifth to service the cold stations.

    The pork, if it's plated, will require at least 6 to pass.

    During apps and mains, you need to keep three people in the kitchen. Two to feed the "hot plate," both of whom are quick and competent carvers; and one, presumably you, to plate.

    If service is buffet, you'll need the same 3 people in the kitchen, although the duties will be divided differently. But, you can keep the floor staff down to four or five.

    That's just plating, cooking is a separate issue. It goes without saying, that the more you do in advance, the less pressure there will be during the crush and the fewer kitchen staff you'll need.

    While $100 is NOT high end, for New Years Eve with beer and wine included, it's NOT cheap either. Competent wait staff can handle a ratio of about 1 : 25 reasonably well, but it's not going to be de luxe treatment.

    Once the pork is on the floor, you can send a couple of people home; and with desserts out -- obviously you only need whatever it takes to clean and wrap up your equipment. It's good for both parties that the venue is providing the plongeur.

    If your still "negotiating," I'd suggest that the venue add an extra two bucks per cover, i.e., $37, in exchange for you "adding three more staff" to what $35 would buy them. The idea being they pay for two, and you take the third out of your end.

    Even if they don't have room to kick an extra $300 your way, you're going to have to cover the necessary staff. Otherwise, the inevitable screwups which can't be resolved because you're shortstaffed will leave you looking like a fool. The anxiety alone would kill me.

    Shroom's a lot more current than I am, but she thinks in St. Louis prices rather than Big City. My very rough guess for the menu you describe is around $1400isn for staff, $1400ish for food, $1000ish for other expenses (transportation, cost of prep at another venue, normal overhead (which is a lot!) etc.), leaving $1400ish for you. Decent for the three or four days work it will take, if not exactly a windfall. But you have to value the shot at landing the hotel as a semi-regular or regular account. IMO, that sweetener makes it worth the unspectacular profit margin and budget menu.

    What were your New Year's Eve plans, anyway? Watch the ball on TV?

    BDL
    __________________
    Ex owner/operator Predominantly French catering; ex cook at a couple of decent joints.
     
  11. chefalice

    chefalice

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Thank you for your suggestions. Yes, the bulk of the cooking will be done ahead. The main is brined center cut pork loin that will be sliced a la minute to eliminate a carver. The venue has two combi ovens for heating/steaming, if needed. It is all buffet service. There are only two hot passed hodos, two cold displayed hodos, a hummus and crostini bar that is self-serve. The hotel is supplying three staff; two for the bar, one for clean-up, etc. That is why I was thinking along with my other chef, two servers would suffice. After totaling up my numbers, I am close to your estimate of almost 1500 for food. I think if it were not for the event being for St Jude's, the cost for the hotel would not really be an issue.
     
  12. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Alice, I think eliminating the carving station is probably a good thing -- because you'd need at least two to handle 150 people and a single entree. That said, you're not saving the work just moving it into the kitchen. My point was that your kitchen staff will have to very good carvers.

    No stove top burners? Oy.

    Ask yourself how many trays you want on the floor at any give time during appetizer service. I'd want at least three, plus a fourth tray going in or out of the kitchen.

    They're going to need replenishing and , straightening during the app service. That's another person.

    It's your gig and your rep. In my opinion though, too much pressure in the kitchen and too much on the floor. That is, unless you're bringing the chaffers loaded and ready to go. But you're not. You're going a minute -- or at least the buffet equivalent.

    I'd listen most closely to Shroom on this one, the size is right up her alley.

    Ed's specialty is big gigs, and a lot of cost managment. At this very moment he's thinking he could do the whole kitchen by himself, and have everything else done by an undocumented server at minimum wage plus a six pack.

    To the extent I had an expertise, it was for smaller, pricier gatherings. That may be why I'm so willing to spend your money.

    You're undoubtedly right.

    BDL
     
  13. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

    Messages:
    7,375
    Likes Received:
    69
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    2 on bar, with bar back? your staff won't be running for the bar at all will they.....ice, glasses, etc... we all can see "your staff" being pulled in to run for the understaffed hotel bar....?
    Clean up guy.....GOLD. even better....he knows where shtuff goes.

    Easy enough.
    hummos and goo(s) with crostini come in prepped
    Bruschetta bar prepped.....
    Just make sure you have the table designs on paper.

    hot, either ready to heat or squirt and heat....garnish prepped.



    Buffet.
    Pork Loin
    Roasted Garlic Mashed
    Haricot Vert with Gremolata
    Vegetarian Pasta Dish
    Rolls, butter

    Pork ready to go in oven, mashed comes in done ready to heat, HV blanched ready to quick heat and top, pasta ready to heat and go, rolls, butter....they've got dessert. Easy breezy.


    What you need from hotel:
    1) diagram on setup, prior to event so you know what you are working with....

    2) site visit to see shtuff, talk to chef much closer to time about temps/quirks of ovens. Do they have cambros?

    3) This is important...a guaranteed guest count. You quoted $35 pp.....is there final count time frame, or is it just shows up that night.....which is NOT in your best interest. Have a base number, $3500-4000 minimum if 1 person or xxx show up. Make sure you have a deposit to book you, can be minimum amount. Whose in charge of body count? When is balance due?....Can the room fit more than 150....will they accept more than 150? Are they walkins? If this is the case there's bargaining room there.....don't turn down more numbers just have a higher cost per additional guest....put also have a ceiling, ie 150 @$35, 151-180 @$47 for the extra walkin head. What ever works for you.
    ***$$$ is a learning curve, non-refundable deposit, final count, additional guests cost more.....these are standard catering practices.


    4) You need more staff for 150....it's a nominal cost for piece of mind.

    5) None of us asked how long aps are out.....it matters on staffing.

    6) Why you need way more staff.....
    unless you have experienced waitstaff that has worked for you in the past you don't know what your getting. Are you in-servicing prior to them serving?
    You are walking into a kitchen that's not yours, it just takes more time....
    You don't do this regularly, it will take more time/organization...written schedule for staff, going over every logistic in your head....
    Stupid shtuff happens, you get a call from staff that's already supposed to be on site....gee they are stuck somewhere, or worse they don't call....it's happened to most if not all of us. Ice snow ick all happen....it will take more time.....
    I'd rather have too much staff than be short. Even if that extra couple hundred is from my pocket....the stress of working with unknown slow or airheads just makes me nuts.

    Not sure how you guys are figuring $1400 for food.....I'm coming out way below $1000 and that's using good pig albiet I'd be breaking it down and using all the pig.....and a salad. St. Louis food prices especially pig. Do you think raw wholesale prices are that much higher in PA?

    One of the things you need to be concerned about are platters/bowls for stationary aps....decorations which could be fresh fruit/veg greens....
    It's something we accumulate over time.....check out what the hotel already does/has on hand that you can use.

    7) coat check?


    8) they are providing dessert, does that mean they are setting it up or serving it or what does that mean? In several scenerios it means more of your staff's time.
     
  14. chefalice

    chefalice

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Thanks so much for your input; it's appreciated more than you know. I've do catering but not on this scale, thus, I realize there are more variables. The hotel is providing coat check. Although I agree with your idea about the cost, I don't think they will accept paying more for last minute add-on guests, especially since I haven't mentioned it. We visited the venue last week and had a lenghty meeting with the G.M. and owner and made suggestions on the layout of the room as far as tables and stations. They have no Cambros; I'm bringing my own. The crostini and hummus stations will remain throughout the event with staff replenishing ingredients. Hot hodos will be passed around prior to and during, buffet. I was planning on roasting off the pork loins ahead and finishing off at venue. Brining ensures a moist result. The veg. pasta, penne with toasted walnut-arugula peston with grape tomatoes can be served warm or cold with equally good results. I will have to buy most of my product retail with a small discount thus, my cost will inevitably cost more. Really, if not for wanting to get my foot in the door with the hotel, I would be charging $10.00 more pp. As previously stated, the other caterer at $45.00 pp was offering less food; one type of bruschetta and one hummus; no hot hodos, no vegetarian pasta or rolls/butter.
     
  15. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

    Messages:
    7,375
    Likes Received:
    69
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    Alice as you probably already know, it's not what you serve but how and how long you serve it.
     
  16. rsteve

    rsteve

    Messages:
    306
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    I'd be very afraid with your current menu. Carefully, ask about who will be attending this function. It's NYC on New Years' Eve. You may have a significant number of guests who will be insulted that the only meat offered is pork. And, truthfully, pork or beef loin, you've got to carve at service.
     
  17. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Could have been a good point. But with the charity in question being St. Jude's, there probably won't be an abundance of Lubavitschers among the guests. Besides, she mentioned something about vegetarian alternatives.

    BDL
     
  18. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

    Messages:
    7,375
    Likes Received:
    69
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    RSteve,
    I cater many events that have pork as the only meat option...there are certainly enough vegetables/starches so that vegetarians don't feel slighted.....JMPTC....it's ok.
     
  19. chefalice

    chefalice

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Hi All,
    I just wanted to update you all on the latest regarding the New Year's Eve party; I met with the hotel owner and G.M.
    The menu has changed. No longer a buffet. The hotel is supplying three bar staff, one clean-up guy, four servers for passed hodos and one kitchen assistant. I am bringing one chef and one assistant. The event is from 8:00 PM - 1:00 AM. with a kicking live band. Tickets will be going on sale this week, thus, they are hoping for at least 150. I had them give me a deposit based on 100 guests; I'm not sure they'll sell all 200 tickets at $90.00 each. I gave them a 7 day deadline for final guest count with a little wiggle room of up to 20 for last minutes. Here is the confirmed menu. They are buying desserts and setting up coffe/tea service. There is very little seating' a few 48 inch and a few bar tables.They declined any seafood selections. 've already started my lists and like to think on on top of things. I appreciate your input and suggestions on making everything pop as far as presentation and like to think outside of the box while still maintaining elegance; They definitely want the three stations listed. I want to make sure there isn't much empty space. They are ordering a ton of poinsettias. Thanks everyone!

    Passed Hodos
    Vietnamese Caramelized Meatballs with Snow Peas on Bamboo Picks
    Mini Tostadas with Beef, Queso Fresco and Caramelized Onion
    Mango-Curry Chicken Salad Tartlets

    Stationary
    Trio of Mini Fritattas: Spanish Tortilla; potatoes, onion, thyme and pimenton
    Greek w/feta, tomato, Kalamatas and Dill
    Chorizo, Sharp Cheddar, Cilantro and Green Onion

    Rosemary Pork Tenderlioin Sliders with Gorgonzola Butter and Balsamic Onion Jam; assembled on small brioche buns

    Hummus Station - self-serve (all served with crudite)
    Thai Spiced Edamame served with Crispy wonton triangles and rice crackers
    Roasted Red Pepper served with Spiced Pita Triangles
    Black Bean served with assorted tortilla chips

    Crostini Station - self-serve
    Mixed Mediterranean Olive and sundried Tomato Tapenade
    Walnut & Parmesan Pesto
    Pesto Ricotta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes
     
  20. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

    Messages:
    7,375
    Likes Received:
    69
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    Is food being passed for 5 hours?

    When does dessert come out? Is it on plates?

    ***Your crostini station looks like it's got expensive toppings.....especially if it's not manned.

    3 people in kitchen or is that 4 including you?
    4 on floor
    Are they using glass or plastic? China or plastic?

    Think you are still short a couple of staff.