Fingerfood cost and pricing

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by ibeacco, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. ibeacco


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    Professional Chef
    Hi all,
    I'm an italian chef working in nyc. I've been managing kitchens for the past 10 years and i've always been on top of menus crafting, food cost and organizing parties, but there is one thing that always leaves me guessing. I have a bit of a hard time calculating food cost and thereby pricing for fingerfood intended for cocktail parties.Since it's basically a 10, 12 items pass around engagement, mostly i try to stay on the safe side in term of quantities and portioning wise, keeping the purchasing within the realm of decent food cost, but i constantly end up with leftovers and i try to find a formula to optimize the portions, food cost and expenditure. Also, since i seldom have a reliable guideline about guests preference and taste (besides allergies and intolerance) i constantly end up with one or two bestsellers that finish early and at least one dead item that goes almost untouched. How do you cope with this kind of issues? What's your take on this very particular branch of hospitality?
    Thanks and keep cooking!!
  2. chefwriter


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    Professional Cook
    I have no professional experience with this but there is a book about buffets and catering that addresses this exact subject. I believe it is put out by the CIA. I have not seen it in years but I think it is called something obvious like "Buffets and Catering". If I can find it I"ll post back with the actual title. I remember it tells you exactly how many of each finger food/appetizer to prepare and all your other concerns as well. Wish I bought it when I had the chance.
    ibeacco likes this.
  3. brandon odell

    brandon odell

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    By the way you ask your question, I can tell you are pricing parties "by the person". When you get into selling finger foods, this gets to be a problem. There are many factors which affect how much food the party will go through and pricing by the person doesn't account for any of them. For example, the time of day can greatly affect how much people are going to eat. If it's a post work cocktail party that ends before the dinner hour, people are going to eat light, but if the party goes through the dinner hour, people are going to eat like they are having dinner. Whether the party is predominantly men or women will greatly affect consumption as well, along with many other factors.

    Rather than pricing "per person" on cocktail parties, I suggest creating your prices based on food quantities. Sell things by the dozen, quart, or some other measurement that guarantees you get paid for everything you make. At that point, it doesn't matter if you have leftovers or not, you've already gotten paid for what you made. You then must work with the host of the party to suggest purchase quantities that are right for their party. If they want more food during the party, they simply order more by the quantity and pay for it. This also puts some of the honus on the host to order the right type of foods for their guests. Afterall, you can't accurately guess what items people are going to eat when you don't know the people. The host must accept some of the responsibility for doing that.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012
    ibeacco likes this.