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Re: Pricing and quantities for a barbecue

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Just got a call from a woman who sampled my Passover food at the home of some one I catered for this holiday; she is interested in having Sarada cater a barbecue for her in June (about 10 kids (not sure what age-range)and 35 adults, but may be as many as 50 adults -- she's not sure). She's looking for hot dogs and hamburgers for the kids, and chicken, green salad, noodle kugel, fruit salad and brownies for the adults. As usual, she is on a strict budget (where are all the clients with scads of money to throw at caterers??? :) ); in the past, she claims to have used a Kosher caterer from Worcester (about 1 1/2 hours away from her) who charged her $9/head for the kids and $18/head for the adults, plus the cost of service (some one to man the grill and people to refill the buffet and do set-up and clean-up). She is willing to forego the green salad if necessary (believe it or not, Kosher salads are pricy and labor intenisive, since you have to check each leaf for bugs -- the easiest way to deal with the situation is to put the lettuce in salt water and keep changing the water until the dirt and bugs are gone, but then you have to THOROUGHLY dry each leaf to avoid mushy lettuce), though I think that would make for a pretty sad buffet -- this is already a much less elaborate affair than Sarada would usually do, but whatever. She is also supplying the beverages and the paper goods.

The other caterer made her boneless, skinless breast of chicken for the grill; I suggested a combination of bone-in, skin-on thighs (which I think are MUCH tastier on the grill than the cutlets) and kebobs (which I make with mint, onion and a Greek-style vinaigrette), instead, and she liked this idea. My thought is that most of the things on this menu are pretty simple to make (the kebobs and the salad would be the most labor intensive); should I charge her $20/person for the adults and $12/person for the kids, plus service????

Also, what should I do about quantities? Sarada is known for its generosity (that was one of the first and best pieces of advice I received going into this business -- BE GENEROUS); should I count on 2 each of the burgers, dogs, thighs and kebobs? Is that enough? Too much? Won't there be at least some adults who want burgers and dogs, and some kids who would want the grown-up stuff (I'm thinking of me when I was a kid, here -- there is NO WAY you would have been able to pawn off kid food on me! :) )? Also, FOR SURE at least some kids are going to want to want the side dishes, right????

This woman lives in Amherst, which is about an hour from us -- should I charge her a travel fee, or forego it (not sure what the other caterer did)?

We've never done a barbecue before, in case you can't tell; your thoughts and guidance here would be most appreciated!



post #2 of 6
Hey Sarada~

Generous and Lavish is fine if your customer is paying for the food + staff + profit margin. Otherwise, a good business sense is crucial to staying in business over the long haul. There are a few ways to answer several issues you raise:

Quantity 6-8 oz food per adult (total) If kebobs are 3 oz of food, 2 per person will do along with 1-2 oz kugel plus salad. An easier and inexpensive salad is either a chickpea base or cucumber based salad. Four Season Salad: Chickpeas (straight out of the can), all chopped cucumbers, chopped tomatoes, parsley and orange vinaigrette.

A lavish look that visually tricks the eye for the kids is minis;
Mini burgers and mini franks. Lots of mileage and tons of fun for the kids. Take hamburger roll. Cut with round cutter into four burgers. Make mini meatballs and flatten. Mini weiners are really cost effective...One pakage yields about 20 minis. Wrap with puffed pastry or if you have a purveyor you like this is a no labor solution. Minis allows the adults to enjoy a bite size nibble.

With gas costs as they are, over 30 minutes you might want to consider adding line item for transportation (it's 2 hours round trip)

My vote: Charge $20. adults, usually kids under 8 (for my company are 1/2 price) and kids under 2 or 3 are free.

Read my post under Attracting the $150. vs $30 client!!!
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
post #3 of 6
Thighs are good option. Might look into Beef Brisket as well. I am a little confused as to whether the whole thing is Kosher or not. I mean like real Kosher, Rabinical Society, etc etc.

For me it would go out at $22.50 per plate and the under 8 year old crowd would be $11.00 per plate. No travel charge if I got the $22.50 with a 50 person gaurantee. But I would have a $750 staffing fee as well. Then I do rentals, so tables, chairs, etc would be on top of that. But many caterers are not backward integrated businesses so that would be up to you.
I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
post #4 of 6
Dawn, please allow me to preface my comments with the following: I've catered over 100 events that required a kosher supervisor on the premises; from Conservative to Orthodox. Before you begin, make certain you know what the kosher requirements are. I had an outdoor event such as the one you describe. I purchased Sinai 48 kosher dinner franks. An hour before the picnicers were to arrive the host informed me that these franks, while kosher, weren't kosher enough. Fortunately, a local shop had glatt kosher franks and we didn't miss a beat. Check to see if you need glatt meat.

C'mon, let's think, here. You're at a barbecue and you see chicken, hamburgers, and kosher franks. What's the least healthy, while being the most attractive to alot of adults? Yup, "Gimme a dog with onions, relish, and mustard." Avoid the 1/4 pound dinner franks. The kids will eat half of one and toss it. The adults will eat hot dogs, burgers, and, maybe, chicken breast (to look like they're dieting). The kids will eat dogs and burgers. Plan for one burger and one frank per guest; one piece of chicken per adult. Figure 60 people. That's 12 to 15 lbs. of ground beef @$4.00 a pound and 8 lbs. of regular sized (2 oz) franks. For the green salad, buy bagged prewashed and torn romaine. Even Sam's Club has it with a kosher designation. I trust you'll make a savory rather than a sweet kugel. One shallow steam line pan (44 pcs) will be ample.
50 adults=$900, 10 kids=$90+ the cost of service. It certainly can be done.

Not only is it not necessary to forgo the green salad but you should add cole slaw. (bagged shredded cabbage, some onion greens, etc.)

Remember this caterer's adage: For every condiment addition, subtract a number of people who won't eat the item. In the kosher trade, chicken breast is far more expensive than thighs. Thighs take longer to cook on an outdoor barbecue and their tenderness can be very unpredictable. Kebobs sound like a pain in the behind and profit margin. Why create unappreciated extra work? I'd use Empire brand IQF boneless thighs and two or three grilling marinades applied just as the thighs finish on the grill. Remember, kosher meat eaters usually want poultry very well done.


Dawn, that's 240 protein servings for 60 people. Way, way too much.

Kids will probably pass on salad and kugel but want chips and pickles. Adults will eat anything that doesn't move and is free.

It depends on your margin...what you need to make on this event and whether you want this woman as a regular client.

We can tell.

Good luck
post #5 of 6

Tire biters


This must be a Kosher thing as many of the guests I have seen will eat it even if it moves. However you are right about the free part. I have heard them called "Tire biters," and I often joke they will eat or take anything not nailed down.
"You are only as good as who you hire."
"You are only as good as who you hire."
post #6 of 6
Here's a question I've been asked more times than I can count and it doesn't have to be a kosher thing.
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