New head Chef seeking advice!

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Joined Oct 6, 2017
Hey everyone a little about my background im 26 years old cooked at many sit down resteraunts for years, quit the field because of low pay offered to line cooks in my area and started working with a good sales company getting paid pretty decent. Banquet Chef buddy of mine called me out of the blue asking if I wanted to be his sous chef I accepted as the pay was great and my passion for food is strong. Long story short I worked there with him for awhile and he moved out of state and gave me his position which was a dream of mine! I've been running a banquet kitchen for almost a year now and I love it and I'm doing good but I'm in need of advice from persons with experience in the banquet field because I learned it's a far difference from working at a sit down resteraunt! I'm seeking your advice as far as food equations go per person, your method of costing out dishes, and your methods and timing as far as service comes. New to these forums feel free to message me I can get more onto detail thanks!!
 
3,200
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Joined May 5, 2010
So....let me get this right....you took a job as a banquet Sous, worked with the Chef until he moved away. You are now banquet Chef but you don't know how to cost out plates.
I know you do.
 
4,474
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
You worked under a banquet chef (buddy of yours) then assumed his duties when he left.
Are we to believe that you have stumbled around in the dark for an entire year and still cannot bid an event (and still have a job???).
I am having a hard time wrapping my head around this...
There are dozens of threads dealing with your problems on this site... a simple search will call up everything you need to know and then some.
Welcome to CT.

mimi
 
9
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Joined Oct 6, 2017
So....let me get this right....you took a job as a banquet Sous, worked with the Chef until he moved away. You are now banquet Chef but you don't know how to cost out plates.
I know you do.
I do know how to cost plates I use chef tech program Iam just seeing if people had different methods of doing so is all. If there is more efficient ways then others
 
9
0
Joined Oct 6, 2017
You worked under a banquet chef (buddy of yours) then assumed his duties when he left.
Are we to believe that you have stumbled around in the dark for an entire year and still cannot bid an event (and still have a job???).
I am having a hard time wrapping my head around this...
There are dozens of threads dealing with your problems on this site... a simple search will call up everything you need to know and then some.
Welcome to CT.

mimi
Hard time wrapping your head around it? Iam just seeking council from more experienced chefs is all lady...i deffinelty know what I'm doing but want to improve my knowledge about the industry banquets are far different then resteraunt
 
9
0
Joined Oct 6, 2017
You worked under a banquet chef (buddy of yours) then assumed his duties when he left.
Are we to believe that you have stumbled around in the dark for an entire year and still cannot bid an event (and still have a job???).
I am having a hard time wrapping my head around this...
There are dozens of threads dealing with your problems on this site... a simple search will call up everything you need to know and then some.
Welcome to CT.

mimi
Hard time wrapping your head around it? Iam just seeking council from more experienced chefs is all lady...i deffinelty know what I'm doing but want to improve my knowledge about the industry banquets are far different then resteraunt
 
9
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Joined Oct 6, 2017
I should just re post this just asking for advice to clear confusion. I just want other chefs input on how they go about things and you say search forums I see nothing about food equations for large numbers for example
 
Last edited:
3,200
648
Joined May 5, 2010
I should just re post this just asking for advice to clear confusion. I just want other chefs input on how they go about things and you say search forums I see nothing about food equations for large numbers for example


Perhaps it was a miscommunication.

We are very nice people but we are also seasoned professionals who read in between the lines when someone such as yourself comes on here to ask questions, that, while seem innocent to you, are taken by us as lack of knowledge.

So we all collectively wonder why you are a banquet Chef at this place if you are not confident of your abilities to control costs.
If you knew what you were doing, there'd be no need for you to come here to ask. To us...you've given yourself away that you are in over your head.

Perhaps re-phrasing the question.
 
3,200
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Joined May 5, 2010
I should just re post this just asking for advice to clear confusion. I just want other chefs input on how they go about things and you say search forums I see nothing about food equations for large numbers for example

I just typed in banquet cost control and up came a couple hundred threads......
 
9
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Joined Oct 6, 2017
Perhaps it was a miscommunication.

We are very nice people but we are also seasoned professionals who read in between the lines when someone such as yourself comes on here to ask questions, that, while seem innocent to you, are taken by us as lack of knowledge.

So we all collectively wonder why you are a banquet Chef at this place if you are not confident of your abilities to control costs.
If you knew what you were doing, there'd be no need for you to come here to ask. To us...you've given yourself away that you are in over your head.

Perhaps re-phrasing the question.
Yes chef I do actually feel in over my head and I don't know what I'm doing on occasions but I always get thru it. I haven't had great mentors besides the buddy who gave me the job I'm basically self taught was thrown into a dirty kitchen(which is now spotless) and out of date equipment and bad staff. I'm maintaining my food cost and recipes on out of date software and I'm new to the whole banquet thing I just want advice from seasoned professionals like yourself.
 
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
Well.
I'm not really sure what to say here. You seem to be looking for some "forumula" that will make you understand this business, and make the lights come on. I don't know of any. Not to sound cliche'd, but experience is the best teacher.
And if you've headed this thing actively for a year, I'd think you'd have worked a hell of a lot of bugs out by now.
Software and such doesn't run the business, it just reduces some of the time consuming tasks.

I was 6 years as a high-end banquet Sous Chef. You're right, its way different than restaurants.
It's much more similar to event catering, which I did previous to that, and concurrently as well.
In the banquet room, I created menus, shopped, ordered, prepped/cooked, serve etc. We accomadated from 30 to 80 people in a serving, plating and serving "live", from 4 to 7 courses. We always offered at least 2 Main dishes, usually poultry and beef or pork or lamb, etc.

Lets take your 1st two requests:

Food equations per person.
Costing dishes.
I can see two reasons you are asking about these.
One, you feel you need these formulas to do the job right. Perhaps you're experiencing shortages, or overages. Or maybe you're constantly confused, and are looking for clarification.
The second reason would be that whoever you're working FOR, i.e., owner of the facility, wants to see your "numbers". Or perhaps you're on a limited cost budget.

Personally, I used equations and cost formulas only for a short time. Once you learn what you're doing, the time spent on all that, was better spent on the creative side, like creating new plates, sides, improving presentation etc.
The exception was doing an initial analysis of a new offering and presenting it to the owner for approval. Which was never a problem. Just a breakdown of the final cost of a dish, to confirm profit feasibility. Which is always pretty good anyway in a high end banquet room. But this was not an ongoing process- once done, if Boss wanted to check "numbers" I had only to do a quick calculation or two.

Your last one, timing:
Since everything varies- what you're serving, what I was serving, there's no magic formula here. My boss was exceptionally good at timing even a seven course service. It boils down to experience, and the ability to keep 1.3 kazillion things in your head at once. The more you do it, especially with any given item over and over, the more precise you get at it. Once you develop that clock in your head, it gets easier. And more fun. But there ARE general guidelines that keep you out of trouble.
First and foremost would be Mise En Place! The more "ready to go" you are, the smoother it goes, and the easier it is to handle unexpected problems. This applies not only to prep and cooking but very much to service--plating and expediting.

Another thing is just competent help. Ive seen inexperienced people thrown on the plating line or even to the pass
and boy did they screw things up quick! Which means, you put people at stations they're good at, not on the pass cuz they're tired of loading ovens. In this regard, getting the food out, it happens to be similar to short order cooking. The timing of both
cooking and service is a matter of practice and experience.

Thats all I can think of to tell you without more specific questions to answer.
 
3,200
648
Joined May 5, 2010
Well.
I'm not really sure what to say here. You seem to be looking for some "forumula" that will make you understand this business, and make the lights come on. I don't know of any. Not to sound cliche'd, but experience is the best teacher.
And if you've headed this thing actively for a year, I'd think you'd have worked a hell of a lot of bugs out by now.
Software and such doesn't run the business, it just reduces some of the time consuming tasks.

I was 6 years as a high-end banquet Sous Chef. You're right, its way different than restaurants.
It's much more similar to event catering, which I did previous to that, and concurrently as well.
In the banquet room, I created menus, shopped, ordered, prepped/cooked, serve etc. We accomadated from 30 to 80 people in a serving, plating and serving "live", from 4 to 7 courses. We always offered at least 2 Main dishes, usually poultry and beef or pork or lamb, etc.

Lets take your 1st two requests:

Food equations per person.
Costing dishes.
I can see two reasons you are asking about these.
One, you feel you need these formulas to do the job right. Perhaps you're experiencing shortages, or overages. Or maybe you're constantly confused, and are looking for clarification.
The second reason would be that whoever you're working FOR, i.e., owner of the facility, wants to see your "numbers". Or perhaps you're on a limited cost budget.

Personally, I used equations and cost formulas only for a short time. Once you learn what you're doing, the time spent on all that, was better spent on the creative side, like creating new plates, sides, improving presentation etc.
The exception was doing an initial analysis of a new offering and presenting it to the owner for approval. Which was never a problem. Just a breakdown of the final cost of a dish, to confirm profit feasibility. Which is always pretty good anyway in a high end banquet room. But this was not an ongoing process- once done, if Boss wanted to check "numbers" I had only to do a quick calculation or two.

Your last one, timing:
Since everything varies- what you're serving, what I was serving, there's no magic formula here. My boss was exceptionally good at timing even a seven course service. It boils down to experience, and the ability to keep 1.3 kazillion things in your head at once. The more you do it, especially with any given item over and over, the more precise you get at it. Once you develop that clock in your head, it gets easier. And more fun. But there ARE general guidelines that keep you out of trouble.
First and foremost would be Mise En Place! The more "ready to go" you are, the smoother it goes, and the easier it is to handle unexpected problems. This applies not only to prep and cooking but very much to service--plating and expediting.

Another thing is just competent help. Ive seen inexperienced people thrown on the plating line or even to the pass
and boy did they screw things up quick! Which means, you put people at stations they're good at, not on the pass cuz they're tired of loading ovens. In this regard, getting the food out, it happens to be similar to short order cooking. The timing of both
cooking and service is a matter of practice and experience.

Thats all I can think of to tell you without more specific questions to answer.


Thanks Meez.......great read.

On any given Saturday night I had 5,000 guests, in 4 different rooms, with 4 different menus. I had a staff of 38 cooks, stewards, and service staff. Talk about controlled chaos.
I had no computer software because it was still in its infancy and cost too much. Everything was done on an Excel spreadsheet that I created.
If I may add to the above, one of the most important things you need to follow is portion size, and consistency. In a restaurant you can use todays leftovers tomorrow. Not so in a banquet. If you make too much soup there is no venue with which to use it again (unless you're lucky enough to have another banquet with the same soup).
Same goes for proteins, vegetables, and sauces.
In my place, if I did have some leftovers, it went to feed employees.
As Meez said above...timing is everything.

The OP does not tell us what kind of banquets the place does. There are many different kinds of banquet styles, and food.
 
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Joined Sep 26, 2017
I gave my friend this book when he got a job as a banquet manager and he said it helped him a lot. Maybe you should look into it. It's called "Catering: A Guide to Managing a Successful Business Operation" by Bruce Mattel.

"Off-Premise Catering Management" by Chris Thomas is also very good. You can easily adapt the information to your situation. It even has a section on dealing with the leftovers that you just mentioned.
 
4,474
419
Joined Jun 27, 2012
It took me three times rereading your OP to figure out that you are not in the banquet office selling and booking events.
Lots of great info from the Chefs and I will add .... you would be well served to sit in on a few meetings and see exactly how it works.
They will talk menus and portions and price per guest.
Simple fix.

mimi
 
9
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Joined Oct 6, 2017
I gave my friend this book when he got a job as a banquet manager and he said it helped him a lot. Maybe you should look into it. It's called "Catering: A Guide to Managing a Successful Business Operation" by Bruce Mattel.

"Off-Premise Catering Management" by Chris Thomas is also very good. You can easily adapt the information to your situation. It even has a section on dealing with the leftovers that you just mentioned.
Thanks so much!
 
9
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Joined Oct 6, 2017
Thanks Meez.......great read.

On any given Saturday night I had 5,000 guests, in 4 different rooms, with 4 different menus. I had a staff of 38 cooks, stewards, and service staff. Talk about controlled chaos.
I had no computer software because it was still in its infancy and cost too much. Everything was done on an Excel spreadsheet that I created.
If I may add to the above, one of the most important things you need to follow is portion size, and consistency. In a restaurant you can use todays leftovers tomorrow. Not so in a banquet. If you make too much soup there is no venue with which to use it again (unless you're lucky enough to have another banquet with the same soup).
Same goes for proteins, vegetables, and sauces.
In my place, if I did have some leftovers, it went to feed employees.
As Meez said above...timing is everything.

The OP does not tell us what kind of banquets the place does. There are many different kinds of banquet styles, and food.[/QUOTE
Chef I do many different banquet styles we do family style, sit down dinners, as well as buffet style. I have 4 others cooks besides myself. On average 500-800 per weeks we feed I do weddings business events u name it. We are an Italian American building so we do mainly Italian food. I'm in the process of changing our out dated menu. Unfortunately our front of house staff isn't great so that puts alot of stress on me lol...
 
9
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Joined Oct 6, 2017
Thanks Meez.......great read.

On any given Saturday night I had 5,000 guests, in 4 different rooms, with 4 different menus. I had a staff of 38 cooks, stewards, and service staff. Talk about controlled chaos.
I had no computer software because it was still in its infancy and cost too much. Everything was done on an Excel spreadsheet that I created.
If I may add to the above, one of the most important things you need to follow is portion size, and consistency. In a restaurant you can use todays leftovers tomorrow. Not so in a banquet. If you make too much soup there is no venue with which to use it again (unless you're lucky enough to have another banquet with the same soup).
Same goes for proteins, vegetables, and sauces.
In my place, if I did have some leftovers, it went to feed employees.
As Meez said above...timing is everything.

The OP does not tell us what kind of banquets the place does. There are many different kinds of banquet styles, and food.

Chef I do buffets sit downs as wells as family style and we do Italian food for the most part and I'm trying to update our boring old menu lol.
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
I've been there (as in Italian banquets). Family style and buffet are difficult to price out. Most of the time you have to make large yields and you end up with leftovers, but that's the name of the game with those styles of banquets. The price per person must reflect the extra food prepared.
 
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Joined Mar 25, 2017
There is a book out there that is called "Food For 50." Its dated, but still relevant. Whether you like the menus or not, there are excellent charts, portion charts, conversion charts etc. I still refer to it from time to time.
 
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Joined Mar 6, 2015
Equation?

Do you mean 4oz side per person × #guests ÷ 16oz per # = #'s needed of side ×.05 + #'s needed of side in case you need extras = 1 item on plate?

Or how about standard .05 (5%) × #guests so you have extra in hand?

To me that is the margin especially on buffets most important to keep in mind when it comes to maximum profit.

Good luck.
 

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