Formula for determining catering help?

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by n00bchef, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. n00bchef

    n00bchef

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    Hey there, I was just curious about how all you caterers out there figure in hired help? Is there a common rule of thumb to follow in determining when to hiring someone to help with an event?

    Do alot of caterers work solo most of the time? some of the time?

    Any feedback would be great, thanks!

    -Jason
     
  2. foodpump

    foodpump

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    We have a list of "hired guns". People we have worked with, and use occasionally. This is pick-up work, usually 6-8 hr shifts, flexible, but the work has to be done. That being said you have to "feed" the hired guns too. You have to give them enough shifts to keep them interested, and not too many to interfere with their other jobs. It's a delicate balancing act, and you're constantly getting new people in and trying them out
     
  3. n00bchef

    n00bchef

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    Ya but how do you determine how many people you need for a job? I mean if I am doing a catering job for 30 people, how many hired hands would I expect to employ for that one job? Same question would go for 100 people... I am sure the answer would vary depending on the needs of the clients, but I was just curious as to how you make the decision to give those hired guns a call?
     
  4. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    last party for 200 was offsite bad locale....no kitchen, I had 11 staff in all, not including bar.

    Passed aps, buffet dinner with carving station, wedding and grooms cake

    2 in the kitchen 15 minutes away, one with the van, 2 had to take off to pick up chicken fingers from a hotel 8 blks away, 2 on grill cheese station......
    it's working out a production schedule.

    I've got another coming up with stationary aps and an easy 1 entree buffet...
    plated serviced dessert. 100-150 guests. Rental dishes. white/red wine, tea

    So, staff wise.....2 in kitchen area 4-6 on floor 2 on the bar.
    kitchen will start earlier and end earlier, if there are 6 on the floor some will have a shortened schedule...4 hours. The bar will breeze in and breeze out.
    We've got set-up and breakdown so that's part of the timing too.

    30 guests, depends on the menu.....plated, # of courses, what's prepped ahead....I've done it with 4-5....5 works better generally.....2 kitchen, 1 bar, 2 waitstaff with bar helping inbetween.....what's hard with some parties is that you NEED a certain number of staff for crunch time, my guys are paid for 4 hours minimum so I make sure they are showing up when I need them the most.
     
  5. foodpump

    foodpump

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    How many? What, cooks? Waiters? Bartenders? "Grunts" who load and unload heavy equipment from the van to the site? 8 Hrs before any function starts, 90% of the food is done. Period. It has to be, or I wouldn't sleep, and I'd be holy terror to whomever stands in my kitchen. Yeah sure, meat is cooked/roasted just before the event, but all the prep is done loong in advance. Same with the packing. Everything is packed a day before: Chafers, sterno, cutting station stuff, chinaware, and a checklist with "loaded" and "returned" columns. Oh, and CLEAR plastic bags for the soiled linens.......

    A Chef has got to work with his "gas gauge" and his "speedometer", that is, his labour cost and his food cost. By the time any Chef has finished reading through a new-never seen-before-function sheet, his brain is already ticking like a time bomb: What to order, what to piggyback with other orders, what to pull from the freezer, what cooks to call, what menu items are similar and can be done in conjuction with other events, what projects to put on hold, or what projects to expedite. Usually done in 1/100th of second.

    Time: If you have enough of it, it's your best friend, better than a gift of a free Porsche with a supermodel in the passenger seat and the glove compartment full of unmarked $100.00's. Time, your worst enemy if you don't have enough of it, worse than being chained to the couch with your eyelids taped open and Bawbwa Streisand's "Yentl" video torturing you....
     
  6. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Foodpump obviously does this day in day out. We work in two different scenerios.
     
  7. tigerwoman

    tigerwoman

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    Ask around and everyone has different formulas but here are some more common ones we loosely use for off prem events for waitstaff and bartenders.


    Cocktail Passed h-d only: 1 waiter per 25-50 guests
    I have gone as high as one waiter per 75-100 but that's for very light hodos where its mostly a drinking crowd and the guests are coming and going. Plus floor captain

    Kitchen staff - depends on complexcity of h-ds (and we use our waitstaff to help put the h-ds together/finishing touches on site)

    Sit down 1 waiter per table of 8-10 guests with 1 busser per every two tables Plus at least one floor captain per 100 guests

    H-D for an hour with buffet to follow 1 waiter per 25 guests or less - need to get those hodos circulating faster and more effeciently.

    Continuous h-d and stations - one chef or waiter per station that is manned with a runner taking care of 1-2 stations as backup.

    Bartenders 1 per 75 -100 guests - my main bartender can do over 100 by himself but its nice to have people around to lug.

    Now of course you need help for setup and breakdown, but a wise catererer friend gave me a suggestion that I have since implemented. If you are hiring 4 waitstaff - have 2 come in for setup and service and two come in for service and breakdown. More effecient, less costly to you and client and you have the bodies there for the crunch time when guests are there!

    These numbers work for me for parties of up to about 300 after that I find I need more staff because I have less control.

    Hope this helps. As for kitchen that depends entirely on menu and type of service. We don't do much sitdown especially for larger groups so not really much help there.

    We can do a small sitdown of 30 with two staff - both are trained for kitchen and waiting so help each other.

    that being said we have a high end intensive wedding for 60 guests in June with continious hors d'oeuvres, short plates and various stations: here's the staff list

    Position/# of hours
    Exec chef15
    Kitchen chef10

    Quesadilla chef10

    Captain15
    4 Waiters @ 8 hours each
    2 Runners @8 hours each
    this includes setup, service and breakdown of course but only on site - not back at the shop or travel time. Some caterers charge for travel time, some don't - and some pay for travel time to staff some don't. I was advised that if you pay and they get into an accident, then you may have some liability???



    hope this helps you.
     
  8. n00bchef

    n00bchef

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    Thats exactly the info I was looking for... thanks a ton! It's a while out before I start my catering business, but I am taking LOTS of notes between now and then.

    Thanks again!

    -Jason
     
  9. chef mike

    chef mike

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    Very excellent advice has already been given, particulary Tigerwoman's discourse.

    I'd just add that it's cheap insurance, to overstaff a little, even though the dough's coming straight out of your pocket.

    You absolutely never know when someone's gonna have a traffic accident, relative with one unimaginable emergency or another, acts of God, acts of terror, acts of lunacy.
    You never know when the client is gonna come up with some off-the-wall need or demand.

    Yes, there's science, formula and order, and yes there's luck. But there's also full moons, errors and chaos, and plenty of bad luck. Much as I hate to do it myself, I often congratulate myself on the practice of sacrificing a little profit margin to keep my reputation on the safe side.

    Mike

    www.lasvegascatering.com