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My reputation on the line and I have never done this before.

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
So, my brother's mother-in-law is a nanny for some lady who is getting married to someone who is a part of the second richest family in Great Britian. She threw my name out there and now they want me to cater their wedding and make their cake. I have one problem though, I don't know where to start because I do not have any equipment, many people that are willing and the details of the party [yet]. I was told (but not 100% for sure because I won't believe it until they show me that the wedding is a costly one and I find out from the people first hand) that there may be some "movie stars" there. Another problem is that I have never done this before. I've worked on caterings at Palm Beach Atlantic University, worked on some parties at Mark's in City Place (owned by Mark Militello) and I am working in the pastry department at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner (the top R-C for banquets) and I mainly do banquets, but I still don't know where I can rent materials, rent a place to cook, find all the people I need and the whole nine yards. I just need advice, suggestions, and whatever else can help me. I can organize well, I find answers when I don't know them, I delegate the right tasks to the right people and I have a slight idea of how catering works but I just need help. The littlest thing you may say can make a difference so please anyone.
All perfections have imperfections.
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All perfections have imperfections.
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post #2 of 19
a catering virgin throwing together a top-dollar wedding without a commercial kitchen, staff nor equipment.

Walk away.
Tell them you'll cater a shower or reception you feel comfortable with......

Just my two cents.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #3 of 19
I did an offsite wedding once, see if you can borrow equipment from where you currrently work. Or if you can rent it from them. What I found was the most useful to me. A detailed check/prep list. When I got out to the site, I realized I did not have a grill brush. Thank god my cousin was part of guest list and I could call him to grab me one.
My life, my choice.....
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My life, my choice.....
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post #4 of 19
I would also shy away from this one. Think of it this way; if it was your wedding, the biggest day of your life, wouldn't you want a caterer with a lot of experience handling it? Offer to do one of the smaller and more laid back functions connected with this wedding. Offer to just to the cake. You'll be able to handle it, get great PR, and not take a chance on the big day.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
post #5 of 19
Please don't think of me as a wet blanket, maybe just a cynic, but if these people are so rich, why wouldn't they hire the best known caterer in the area? In my financial circumstances, I'd tend to take a chance on someone just starting out, but if money was no object? Hmmmm.
post #6 of 19
If you absolutely feel you must continue, because I believe, like the others, this particular gig's not for you, you should be able to find an equipment rental store in any town of decent size. Look for those who rent awnings, chairs, etc. They are most likely to carry tables, chafers, linen, plates, you name it.

It won't be cheap by any means, especially if you have them deliver to the required site. However, you HAVE TO build those costs into your contract estimate. Additionally, you would also need to build in the costs of your hiring servers, other cooks, if necessary and the location in which you must cook.

For that, I'd suggest you check with churches, VFW/American Legions or other social organizations who have meeting halls. They usually have kitchens they are willing to rent. One way to find out who has what is to contact your health department. They may have a ready list of those who hire out.

Good luck if you take it.

Ciao,
Order In/Food Out ~ It's NOT magic.
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"It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you." Frank Zappa
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Order In/Food Out ~ It's NOT magic.
- * - * - * - * -
"It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you." Frank Zappa
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post #7 of 19
I was told (but not 100% for sure because I won't believe it until they show me that the wedding is a costly one and I find out from the people first hand) that there may be some "movie stars" there.

Let's just say I think you are in over your head if you try to go this alone. My suggestion would be to find an established caterer you could partner with and you help create the menu and do the day of setup but let them take care of the logistics, staffing, etc. n though even that is fraught with problems. Although they want you??? you haven't even meet with them or spoken to them directly yet? Nothing is booked until you get that deposit check. And like Lentil, I am scratching my head as to why anyone with a high disposable income wouldn't at least be seeking out the name brand caterers. So be sure that they are shopping and comparing.

Now think about this - catering is more than just being able to cook and produce the food - not a small feat there either but you are creating a restaurant and venue everytime in a new and unfamilar space with shifting staff (in your case people you have never worked with before in this type of experience). Catering is creating an experience - it is a production - which takes vast amounts of planning, thinking, knowledge and in reality lots of experience.
And you don't even know any of the details like
how many guests,
what type of food and service,
where the venue is
what the pitfalls and shortcomings of the venue are.
DOes the venue require you to be licensed and insured.
If you are not and something happens what do you stand to lose.
Then if it is a fancy pants wedding the expectations will be high - even if the budget doesn't match

a high budget doesn't mean that you will be making tons of money because you will have alot of expenses to cover

here's a few that come to mind...
food
rental of cooking equipment and or prep kitchen
rental of platters, trays, linens, tables, chairs, etc
staff for prep and serving - chefs, waiters, bussers, etc
decor - making your food look good - never mind table decor - that could be farmed out to a florist you have too much on your plate already.
shopping and planning time
vehicles to transport everything
transporting staff - travel time



OK what is a costly wedding to you - and what is that to them? How do you know what the costs are in order to figure things out and be professional and make some dollars for your effort


You say " I can organize well, I find answers when I don't know them, I delegate the right tasks to the right people and I have a slight idea of how catering works but I just need help" You really need alot of help - much more than these postings can ever give you. This is an important event in someones life and you have a resposibility to make sure you can really handle it. Partner with someone if you are really serious about going ahead - otherwise take a pass and like they said offer to cater the rehearsal dinner or something like that!
Chef Tigerwoman

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

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
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post #8 of 19
This is just a thought.

What about bringing the project to the folks you are working for? At a level that you can use their expertise, knowledge and equipment, work the event at a higher level of particapation than would usually be available to you. A cushioned learning experiance.
post #9 of 19

No job too big or small?

I am stepping out as a caterer myself, but I am a CIA graduate and I have 30 years in the industry. I wish I had the opportunity you have. But it is a huge undertaking.

If you are not sure, don't do it. It could ruin any opportunity for your success if you fail.
post #10 of 19
I would:rolleyes: .................................................. .................................................. ................Chuck a sickie:eek:
Leading the global ban on cup and spoon measurements in recipes!
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Leading the global ban on cup and spoon measurements in recipes!
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post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you all, just keep the commets coming.....I was think of pairing up with the Ritz-Carlton, my current job, but I was afraid that they would take it over completely but I knoiw I can't do this by myself and I know if I have a doubt that I can't do this then I would step back from it. I don't plan on making much, if any, profit because I just want to do this for my name...not really the money. I have never thought of licencing and insurance (thanks TigerWoman) but I have thought (not to sound like a know it all and sorry if I am coming off as one) about how much they are willing to pay to what they getting from the product/service mix. What does everyone think of teaming up with the R-C?....I am fairly new there and I just don't want them to completely forget about my name in it (seeing I want to create the menu and service standards according to what the guest want and what they are willing to pay), but I don't want them to control it all and say its another Ritz-Carlton wedding. Details about the wedding will come in about early september so I will know (or have a better understanding) of what I am or not getting myself into. Thank all of you that replied but I still need more commets and suggestions to make up my mind.....so far I have 2 things in my mind and they are to not do it or to team up with a company or restaurant or people that know a lot more about it than me.
All perfections have imperfections.
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All perfections have imperfections.
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post #12 of 19
Ritz Carlton may not be your best bet. Somehow, I can't imagine a corporation allowing you to have any say. Not only that, but if it goes well (or poorly) for that matter, it won't be you that gets any credit (or blame) at all. It will be the RC. Do you know anyone in the catering business who may want the job, but would allow you to work with them and take some credit?

I'm still firmly in the Offer to Take on a Smaller ***tion Associated With the Wedding camp. What better way to make an impression than to wow a smaller group of people who may actually notice that you're there? WEddings are hectic and no one is paying any attention to the caterer. Of course, theynotice if the food is good (or they especially notice if the food isn't) or the decor is pleasing, but the focus is on the bride and groom. As well is should be.

One other point. If youi're working for the RC, will you be able to take off the time it's going to take you to plan and work this wedding? I'm sure you know how time consuming a big event can be especially if you're the "staff" in the planning stages.
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well, I will try to look for smaller catering businesses somewhere in this area and about the whole time deal....well I get off of work at 3:30 (go in at 7am) so that gives me until I would say about 10pm to plan. I don't mind doing the extra work if it would teach me something and help me out in the future, but I have a question for you. Do you know of any catering companies in the DC area or any restaurants that would be willing to let me use their establishment and maybe have them help me a little without taking the credit? And another question, if they want to have the reception in their backyard and they are as rich as my brothers mother in law says do you think I could pull it off in their kitchen?
All perfections have imperfections.
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All perfections have imperfections.
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post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well, I will try to look for smaller catering businesses somewhere in this area and about the whole time deal....well I get off of work at 3:30 (go in at 7am) so that gives me until I would say about 10pm to plan. I don't mind doing the extra work if it would teach me something and help me out in the future, but I have a question for you. Do you know of any catering companies in the DC area or any restaurants that would be willing to let me use their establishment and maybe have them help me a little without taking the credit? And another question, if they want to have the reception in their backyard and they are as rich as my brothers mother in law says do you think I could pull it off in their kitchen?
All perfections have imperfections.
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All perfections have imperfections.
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post #15 of 19
I'm in NH, so I don't know of any caterers in that area. I suggest you ask others in the food business or simply look them up in the yellow pages and drop in to visit them.

My catering kitchen is small, but I at least have lots of stainless tables and commercial refrigeration. I do a lot of the finishing of things in people's kitchens, but all of the prep is done at my shop. I do all the cooking here, also, but may cook off a couple of apps at the client's home if the need arises. Could you pull it off in thier kitchen? Who knows? I really wouldn't want to try, but that's just me. One wedding shower I did, I had to clean the kitchen, empty the DW, and take out the trash before I could use it for service, handed out 2 dozen glasses of water to various guests, and peeled an apple for the grandson of the hostess. Are you sure you want to use thier kitchen?:beer: At least in my kitchen, I can have my staff peel thier own apples.:D
post #16 of 19
Don't do it. Weddings are tricky. It's "the most important day of their lives", for gawds sake. If the cake cracks it will be the end of lives...namely yours, and the person that refered you.
Walk away gracefully, and do it quick!
Lyne:eek:
post #17 of 19
Don't mince words, Lyne.... Tell us what you really mean.;)
post #18 of 19
I have to go with TigerWoman on this one. Team up with local good caterer. Set your goals and guidelines and dive in. This way your under their uymbrella.
pan
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #19 of 19
A good caterer never said no...But at the same time you are trying to get blood from a stone. Offer your services elsewhere and take smaller steps to achieve your goals. Would you even know what to charge? The last thing you want to do is take money out of your pocket to cover unexpected expenses. Catering a small affair is a no-brainer, but when it comes to the big jobs there’s allot that has to be covered, especially a wedding.

Good luck
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