the low down on film set catering

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by kid creole, Dec 6, 2004.

  1. kid creole

    kid creole

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    hello to all!! i dunno if this this is correct forum for theseQ's?
    hopefully someone knows alittle about catering services for movie productions? my main Q. is pricing. i just received a price list from a co. that sells and leases mobile kitchens. to rent there smallest units (24-28 ft.)cost $3600 a week or $7000 per month. with a $1.50 per mile round trip delivery charge.would this be the amount charged to a client if i owned such a M.K.?i'll be serving 100-300 crew 3 times a day . the length of the shoot is unknown to me now. but there are several productions available to me through this company.what is the method for pricing ?
    i preformed a search on the subject and understand there are diffrent classes of service.and that its not as profiable as other forms of catering.but i'm young and hungrey and look foward to the challenge.but i'm not stupid i realize i'll be working 16-18 hours a day. any light shed on this subject would be greatly appreciated.
    JPO
     
  2. ara gureghian

    ara gureghian

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    The monthly fee is definitly a better one... a little high... depends on the equipment shape...
    you need to pass that cost on to the client (s). It is an added bonus for them to be cooking on the premises... deposits up front... and proper food mark-up... yes... long hours... but if you have the passion and food is above excellent your future is just about insured...
    Where are you located?
    Be well...
    www.personalchefara.com

    ara




    [​IMG]
     
  3. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    At 7k a month you only need to use it for more than 2 weeks in order for it to pay for itself.

    Are you bidding on a contract or do you have it already?

    I think it's better to not invoice them for the rental. That way it's not viewed as their cost. Add the cost into the cost of your meals. Add $0.50 to the cost per person if you have to. This way the company doesn't feel like it's bearing your cost of doing business.

    In general, it's a good idea to price your product without other "excuses" like delivery charges and other odd addon expenses. It feels a little dishonest.
     
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  4. kid creole

    kid creole

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    thanks ARA im in the big easy .
    KUAN really appreciate it . heres the deal. good freind o mine is local producer they can hardley find someone to do this work? i cant understand it? heres some #'s let me know if i'm confused about any of this? 13-18$ a head x 2-3 meals a dayx100-300 crew= big dollars??? right? but when i talked to him last week they were on there fourth caterer? he tells me the first one out just heated up #@&(% from wal mart to serve!!! my family is the oldest oyster co. in louisiana and prolly the tightest hehe. but the meals prepared for there men are now on gourmet high $$ menus . cost to make these kinda meals are low in food cost high in labor.. what i'm sayin is how could the overhead of preparing meals for workers push these other cateres to serving crap and loosing these gigs?am i missing something?
    KID
     
  5. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Here's the deal. In most catering operations, it requires one man hour to do anywhere from between 12 and 20 covers. So if you have 100 people to feed, it might take 5-8 man hours. That might be tough if you're doing it alone. Keep that in mind.

    Also remind yourself that there might be other challenges in feeding so many people out of a roach coach. You might be in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden your freezer may go down or find yourself without water. You just never know. I don't know too much about this kind of stuff so all I can say is, you never know until you try!
     
  6. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    So hire some prep help....

    Jambayla is cheap, Gumbo, Etouffee.....all these were made by large cajun families.
    Basically you have to buy food every day. Wow. What I gather is your connected to restaurants....that could make cold storage, staffing a whole lot easier.
     
  7. kid creole

    kid creole

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    "In most catering operations, it requires one man hour to do anywhere from between 12 and 20 covers. So if you have 100 people to feed, it might take 5-8 man hours. That might be tough if you're doing it alone. Keep that in mind."

    thats an interesting and usefull tid bit thanks KUAN. does anyone else adhere to these guidelines? **** no i would be a complete fool to try a one man show tehe...i will use contract labor.
    thanks SHROOMGIRL .no they are oyster fisherman...they live two hours south of N.O. ..do you grow mushrooms SG?
     
  8. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    ummmmm.... oysters......I lived in (New Orleans briefly) and Baton Rouge for 15 years. Nope don't grow um just know where to find lucious wild ones in the woods. My catering company is called Chanterelle Catering, kinda tells you where my heart lies.
    Check out high end wholesale places for quality prepared food to suppliment, it's a huge undertaking to cook so much every day. Cambros are your friend!!! I love my new one, it's got wheels and pans can go straight from the oven to the hot box!!! Makes life so much easier, just takes up sooo much room in my car.
    A smoker is also a great investment.....pork butt .79 cents #, Smoked BBQ with 2 sides $15.
    Contract with some caterers or restaurants that are going through a slow time in Jan. (though alot travel then). Have them do some prep at greating reduced rates.
    A good friend of mine used to cook for the Grateful Dead in the 70's actually for 17 years he would take off from the restaurant he was cheffing at and hit the road for 4-5 months. The stories he tells are facinating......cooking in lockerrooms after a hockey game....not know how many he would be feeding....having to cook throughout the day and night. This past year he went out for a couple of weeks with the remaining Dead and just cooked for the band, says they are into juicing, organics and just healthier food.

    What I've discovered is that just because someone cooks does not mean they have organizational abilities, or that restaurant work translates to off site catering....Keeping all the balls in the air with little breathing space had better be an extremely lucrative deal. What an undertaking! I've a whole new respect for mass media cooking production crews.
     
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  9. kid creole

    kid creole

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    Chanterelle Catering, what a gereat name SG.! yea any tips or ideas are appreciated. yes large quantity's of protein is what i'm thinkin also. my producer freind tells me that they like food they can eat with 1 hand (as not to halt work).i'm thinking it will give me an opprotunity to create new variations on wraps.did you look into rubbermaid products when in the market for food transport? i've allways like their prod. ..just curious on other opinions.. cooking for the DEAD can you imagine some of the stuff they wanted to eat!! teehee>> my nephew is going on tour after x mas could prolly get some gigs through him also.from what i gather its a diffrent beast than film crews . one step at a time. yea im into juicing also .. and i wish i woulda bought stock in SILK (makers of soy milk) when i started drinking it 5 years ago. yes it will be an undertaking! i like caos tho it is the JUICE to me. my only fear is getting takin because i'm green to this..they have such a prob. finding good caterers i dunno. if i give them what they want will they want more then?? or will they be happy?? i will find out
    THANKS SG.
     
  10. tigerwoman

    tigerwoman

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    we have done production catering on and off for the last ten years. Basically it is the bottom of the barrel in terms of catering. They expect alot of food (these are manual labors as well as talent) the guys can really eat - one two even three huge plates full. They contractly have to have hot food at certain intervals during the day - so timing is crucial. and at the same time, the producer may decide that they are in the middle of a shoot so can you just hold the food for another half hour then another then another --- get the picture.

    They pay penalties when they feed people late, so you had better be ready and then hurry up and wait. ANd if the food gets screwed up because it sat too long, the crew will complain and they will harrass the production management about the lousy quality of the tossed salad (that sat out too long) etc etc. Plus you are trying to please the palates of 100-300 demanding people. You need to have huge varieties of food. Proteins, carbs, vegetarian (very important to have vegetarian hot food choices - even vegan choices). and you are all set up and ready to go and the location suddenly changes. Or they tell you at the last minute, we have only 60 today.

    Proceed with caution. Have a contract. Make sure you get minimums and stick to them. Make sure they give you 24 hours notice (and that can be tough for them at times) on "call times" by the way the call time is the time you should be serving the ready by time is usually about 1/2 hour previous. These are constantly
    shifting times so make sure the food you are serving can stand to sit in cambros or in chafers for hours.

    and you do need help with prep and serving too. You may need to have more than one line if there are 300 people going thru. Plus often when they have really large crews they do two different meals but you really don't know who is who and it makes it hard to figure out how many you are really serving. And remember they take and eat huge portions and may be back for seconds before some have had firsts. Then you run out and the people who didn't get fed are mad and guess who is responsible.

    Can you make money with it - yes. Typically you can charge for meals and labor (but usually not for the truck) If they pay 12-13 per lunch/dinner (and quantities on lunch and dinner aren't really different in the production world and you still need to serve hot food not sandwiches and wraps (which are typically a craft service thing) that is considered "good money" for them - and sometimes they will pay labor like 200 - 250 for a 12 hour day but who pays for the daily shopping and humping and the extra servers etc (sometimes they will pay labor for an assistant too) They always cry budget and they are hungry to prove to someone higher up that they can squeeze the last nickel out of you - they work for peanuts because they want to make it in the business and think you should too.

    So personally I only take those jobs when they are desperate and I can get what I consider a reasonable rate for catering. They always marvel at how good the food is but are unwilling to spend the bucks unless it's an emergency. By the way, I looked into hiring a mobile kitchen - 27 foot here in NYC and the daily rate was 2,500 for a drop off, cheaper by the week but I didn't get the weekly price.

    I got a call today for a production meal at Rockerfeller Center on New Years Eve from 2 pm to 2 am - hot dinner and snacks and drinks the rest of the time (and snacks are very substantial) for 100 people and they wanted to spend (and were getting quotes for 3-4,000) I would want to get at least 6-7 to make New Years Eve and the associated hassles and expenses worth while - even on a regular night 30 - 40 per person for 12 hours of food and service is ridiculous, but that is what the production catering world is all about. Also lots of illegal caterers who figure if they make 500 - 600 in a day, it's better than working for someone else. Once you put in the costs of a legitamite business it's hard to compete.

    All that being said, come up with a two week trial contract and stick to the terms. I have made good money doing that, I just hate the ugly side of it and the tough stances you have to take in order not to get screwed over. Hope this helps, it certainly presents one side of it.
     
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  11. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    great advice......holding the line can be horrible.
     
  12. kid creole

    kid creole

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    thanks tiger women i will find comfort looking over yours and others advice in deciding how best to act on this opprotunity.
     
  13. bistro truck

    bistro truck

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    Hello Everybody,
    I'm new to this forum and would appreciate some advise on how to Find and bid on Film production catering contracts in NYC? Is there a website or you have to contact them directly .
    Thanks,
     
  14. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

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    Not that I want to disillusion you, but listen to what the 2 ladies above have said and read between the lines . They have both been thru the ups and downs of this racket called Off premise catering. Like they say cooking is the easiest part . Start out with some smaller gigs till you learn all the ins and outs.
    Over the years I have seen many start-ups put in all kinds of hours and do all kinds of hard work and average out after its over at about $12.00 an hour. Cheaper to work for someone else , even more so in this economy unless you are well established. Good Luck:chef:
     
  15. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    this thread and most of the posts were started in 2004.
     
  16. gigante caterin

    gigante caterin

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    hey tiger women read ur messages and i have a question if u have a min I have built a good catering co we do everything from fine dining to back yard bbq
    I live in michigan and production company & films are poping up quick is there a bid board or some where I can find out what jobs are open or where i can go to offer a quote any advice will be helpful
     
  17. mohyy101

    mohyy101

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    great advice too
     
  18. chef mike

    chef mike

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    Yeah, TW. What you said.
     
  19. cvalcater

    cvalcater

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    Gigante, I am from New Mexico and the film productions have grown substantially here. Take it from me (who has done over 10 film productions) and tigerwoman...it is not worth it. EVERYTHING she has said is true and then some. There's a reason why the one production company went through 4 caterers... The biggest thing is getting a contract and finding out location. It gets tough moving 2-3 times a day, setting up and tearing down in all kinds of weather and terrain.

    We purchased a kitchen truck and I truly didn't want to give up, but 2 years of putting up with the craziness was enough. I still get calls and have no problem saying "no". It's amazing how many people think it's a "great gig" and in 10 years of catering can honestly say it was the most miserable work and thankless job I have ever done. I realize this sounds very negative, but I sure wish I had known more about the film industry before I invested so heavily into it.
     
  20. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    thanks for your input cval....always good to hear from those who've "been there".