Food Cost Question

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by nickcim, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. nickcim

    nickcim

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    I recently started a private chef business in West Michigan (Savory Socials) and am in a whirl wind of decision making and foundation setting. I would like to know what would be an appropriate food cost percentage to run for small 10-14 person party's, 6-7 courses. The dinners will take place at the clients home, some use of their kitchen equipment, flatware, china, and glass wear, food will be provided by myself. I feel like i have most details worked out but am uncertain what to charge the client. What is this skill worth? What can i get away with as far as price goes? My current thought on this topic is the run the same as in the restaurant.... 30-35%

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. durangojo

    durangojo

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    nickcim,

    i would direct your questions to the catering forum as well...there are some pretty knowledgable and savvy people there..also, personal chef biz costs are much closer to catering than restaurants....meanwhile, best of luck to you in your new endeavor....

    joey
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2011
  3. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    As a practicing personal chef as well as a past restaurant owner, IMHO percentage food cost has little, if any relevance for personal chefs, period. And any comparison to restaurant percentages is a foundation for bankruptcy, restaurants deal with 100s of covers, personal chefs deal in 10s of covers.

    For me, the ONLY way to price a small dinner party so that you will have an opportunity to stay in business, is to calculate ALL your costs, i.e. food, rentals, extra labor, travel, insurance. license(s), and anything else that you spend money on, then add on your fee, what YOU expect to earn for the work, and, IMHO, is not $xx/hr, you are a business person, NOT an employee!

    Most of my dinner parties result in a cost of food percentage in the 15-20% range. Why? Because my fee for a dinner party in the client's kitchen starts at $350 and for a 10-14 person, 6-7 course meal, would be in the neighborhood of $500-$700 plus food, rentals, 1-2 servers ($100-200), Sous ($150), and dishwasher ($50). I'd expect food cost to be $175-$250, so, bottom line, for 14 about $1,350 down to, maybe as low as, $975 for 10 people. That results is a food cost percentage of 16.3-17.9%

    BTW, I NEVER quote small dinner parties as $xx/person for a couple of reasons:
    • A. The client WILL compare you to a restaurant
    • B. To save money, the client WILL reduce the number of people AFTER you make the per person quote, remember, the only cost you might avoid with a reduction in guests is food, you will still have to pay your labor.
    To illustrate the pricing per person problem, lets say you, by yourself, can handle a three course meal for up to, oh, 6 people. Food cost is, say, $10 per plate, your fee is, oh, $350 for the night. The per person cost would be:
    • $360/1=$360 for one, food cost is 2.77%
    • $370/2=$185 for 2, food cost is 5.4%
    • $380/3=$126.67 for 3, food cost is 7.9%
    • $390/4=$97.50 for 4, food cost is 10,2%
    • $400/5=$80 for 5, food cost is 12.5%
    • $410/6=$68.33 for 6, food cost is 14.6%
    If you quote $68.33 for six without specifying six and the client drops it to four, you fee is reduced by $172.62

    If you price by multiplying food cost by 3 (33.3% food cost) and food cost is $10/person, you'd be willing to do the same meal for $30/person or $180 for six, which leave you $120 for the night, instead of a reasonable $350.
     
  4. panini

    panini

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    Nick,

     Read and read closely the response from Chef Pete.

    This stuff is not in print. You are getting a very valuble piece of information.

    I have to tell you to ditch the other material on this subject and focus on this responce.

    Priceless
     
  5. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Pete hit it straight on. When I usd to do it  on a per person gig  an example I could give you would be  10 up to 20 guest  lets say $70.00 pp. anything over that 20 to 40  $65.00 pp.  In otherwords my minimum  is    700.00 plus my fee. I would try and give them an incentive to invite more.
     
  6. nickcim

    nickcim

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    Thank You, Sounds like great information. I will need some time to digest it all and construct a plan of attack, so in the mean time may I ask about menu strategies. I will be consulting with the clients before the dinner event to talk about what they would like to see in the meal. As far as example menus, how many is an adequate number. In any regaurds, I know the client is going to want substitutions so I will have to make other recomendations so the meal makes sence. From experience whats a good presentation of menu approach.
     
  7. chefedb

    chefedb

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    The more choices you give them, the more confused they will become. Keep it simple so you can do it correctly.