or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Catering › the low down on film set catering
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

the low down on film set catering

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
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
post #2 of 40
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




Personal Chef Ara
www.PersonalChefAra.com
Reply
Personal Chef Ara
www.PersonalChefAra.com
Reply
post #3 of 40
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.
post #4 of 40
Thread Starter 
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
post #5 of 40
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!
post #6 of 40
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.
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #7 of 40
Thread Starter 
"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?
post #8 of 40
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.
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #9 of 40
Thread Starter 
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.
post #10 of 40

production catering

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.
Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
Reply
Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
Reply
post #11 of 40
great advice......holding the line can be horrible.
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #12 of 40
Thread Starter 
thanks tiger women i will find comfort looking over yours and others advice in deciding how best to act on this opprotunity.
post #13 of 40

How to Find and bid on Film production catering contracts in NYC.

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,
post #14 of 40
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:
CHEFED
Reply
CHEFED
Reply
post #15 of 40
this thread and most of the posts were started in 2004.
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #16 of 40
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
post #17 of 40
great advice too
post #18 of 40

production catering

Yeah, TW. What you said.
post #19 of 40
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.
post #20 of 40
thanks for your input cval....always good to hear from those who've "been there".
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #21 of 40
Tigerwoman said it all... I worked for a film caterer in LA for 6 years....left in 1999.  Had alot of fun, and alot of misery with that job. We had a very good reputation in the biz, Mostly worked commercials and higher budget music videos. We got $19 for breakfast & lunch, another $9 for second meal... which was typically burgers and quick on the run type food, as the last meal was usually at wrap. We were paid by production, chef and one cook for up to 50, extras after that.
Charged for  gas, propane & ice., out of area...about 70% local LA area, 30% on location...NM, Utah, Vegas, San Francisco. Worst job,  Marlboro Adventure Team commercial shot in Monument Valley Utah.... 30 days of hell,,,,Bad weather, break downs, miserable cast and crew.
We did do a movie on occasion, if the commercial side was slow... lot less $$ pp... and they want LOTS of food... Even if they don't eat it, they still want to see it... The last movie I worked was Dr Doolittle, The producers were constantly bitching that they thought we were not putting out a big enough buffet.... 3 8' tables with hot and cold, + main entrees off the truck and something off the BBQ daily..... They still wanted more.. But in the end they were happy.

Don't know what the biz is like 10 yrs later, but I assume that nothing has changed.
post #22 of 40
I am doing a working interview in LA on Friday for a production catering company which has done over 100+ big budget catering gigs with various studios. After being in the industry 16 years I know I enjoy catering and can cook my ass off but after reading your comments I am somewhat apprehensive. It's a union position with union scale & benefits. Never have worked of a truck either so I can"t believe I am nervous...lol! I just need to know is there an upside to the industry?  Can I make great contacts that lead into a private chef position down the line (a goal of mine) In my last position I was an Executive Chef for a start-up restaurant that became a nightmare with three owners so I actually welcome the chance to just cook but I know there is more too it than that....any advice out there?

-Steven
post #23 of 40
well I have been there done that

long ago worked for Star Craft Productions .....if ya wanna make some fast easy money when your a young chef and forget about a social life ....your on set until the last scene ..sometimes you can grab a nap in the Geni Ops trucks if your going way overtime like 18-24 hours and walk away with serious cash in your pocket it's a different life ....I remembeer the call " Sharon Stone would like an Egg White Omelette in 5 minutes   lol
My feet are firmly planted in mid air
Reply
My feet are firmly planted in mid air
Reply
post #24 of 40
I just looked at the local 399 web site, looks like union scale for a chef/driver is $32.37.. Pretty good.. it was $22.71 in '99.. But there is only 1 chef driver on a truck.. that will be the highest paid position on the truck.Good luck if you can get it.
post #25 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefStevenJ View Post

I am doing a working interview in LA on Friday for a production catering company which has done over 100+ big budget catering gigs with various studios. After being in the industry 16 years I know I enjoy catering and can cook my ass off but after reading your comments I am somewhat apprehensive. It's a union position with union scale & benefits. Never have worked of a truck either so I can"t believe I am nervous...lol! I just need to know is there an upside to the industry?  Can I make great contacts that lead into a private chef position down the line (a goal of mine) In my last position I was an Executive Chef for a start-up restaurant that became a nightmare with three owners so I actually welcome the chance to just cook but I know there is more too it than that....any advice out there?

-Steven

Chefsteven.. How did the interview go?  Did you make it past lunch? If you can handle the pressure and hours that a motion picture job requires, the pay on a union job rewards you nicley, if you can get the chef/driver position.  Here's an example of the hrs I was putting in on Dr Dolittle.. Based on todays rates.. 107 hrs on location one week.

40 x 32.37  =  1294.80 regular
28.5 x 48.56= 1383.96 1.5x's rate
13.5 x 80.93= 1092.56  2.5x's rate
11.5 x 48.56=   558.44  1.5x's rate (6th day)
13.5 x 80.93= 1092.56  2.5x's rate (7th day)
                     5422.32
Then you always have some pocket change for per diem, and compensation for meal penalties and forced callls.. Not bad if you can handle the hrs and are willing to have no personal life!
post #26 of 40
meal penalties and forced calls? just curious as to what those might mean.
 
Union gigs.....guess you'd have to join the union, what do dues run?
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #27 of 40
Union states that a meal should be every 6 hrs, if you work past that meal time, monetary penalties are assessed every 1/4 hr past the scheduled break time.

There should be 8 hrs time between clock out time and start time the next day. If not, there again are monetary penalties for each 1/4 hr less than 8 hrs off time.
post #28 of 40
all in all reads like a great gig, looks like a young persons game......100+ hours a week.

Are you required to answer all calls?
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #29 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by shroomgirl View Post

all in all reads like a great gig, looks like a young persons game......100+ hours a week.

Are you required to answer all calls?

Most deffinatly a young persons gig, Did it for 6 yrs, then I got old!

You better be there, and not be late, or it's the last time you will work for that company,
post #30 of 40

I know this thread is old but I've recently been talking to another chef about movie studio catering.  I live in Michigan and it's one of the only growing businesses.  It seems like basic craft services might be a more cost effective way to start - although it sounds like it is minimal cooking and more provisions.  Any opinions are welcome.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Catering
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Catering › the low down on film set catering