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My first potential job

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone,
could ya'll look over my menu and ideas for a job? This office wants to do a tasting first in the next few weeks. It's a good thing though that they already know what they want to do and have already thought of peoples allergies and dietary needs.

But first, in case everyone missed my intro, something about me. I've been around and in Hospitality since I was about 9 (going on 29yo soon). I've had a myriad of jobs but my current most closely relates to catering or cooking for the small scale masses. I can easily handle up to 120 people from a small galley at 35,000ft so dealing with things on the ground is easy. Hey, at 35,000ft in the middle of the Pacific, there aren't any Safeways to run to if you have an oopsie. BTW, I'm a flight attendant that actually preps, shops, menu plans and cooks. So enough of me, onto the food.

This event is for 35 - 40 people, the menu is simple Italian. Vegetarian baked ziti, Lasagna, salad and garlic bread. It will be a drop off service so far though they may want me to stick around. I'm estimating $350 for food and $100 for me. $50 extra for me stick around.

Please pick apart this:

For the tasting menu I'm thinking of giving them 2 options of everything unless they decide ahead of time what exactly they want because right now they are pretty general.



Vegetarian Baked Ziti
- Roasted tomato, zucchini, eggplant sauce
- umm, what else can you do with baked veg and pasta?

Lasagna
- Traditional
or and they really liked the idea of a seafood lasagna
- Chunk blue crab, bay scallop ricotta spread, tarragon cream sauce with sliced sea scallops to mark off portions


Salad
- Classic Caesar
- Red belgian endive, blood orange supreme, fennel, walnuts, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, S&P

EDIT: oh, and if I have enough left over and I think I will, I'll make something special for them. A Vanilla bean Panna Cotta. Do you think it's possible?


Thanks for looking and please be gentle. :o
Finally following my heart to do what I love.

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post #2 of 17
Wow,... for what you want to charge them I wouldn't even bother with the job, unless you are doing it as somewhat of a favour.

The menu seems simple enough and for that price thats all they should be getting :P I definitely would not offer to stick around..
post #3 of 17
Catering...we charge by the head. So essentially you're charging $12ish a person.

Way out of whack with the money.

Possibly an appetizer...?.....

Cannolini....shellfish would be nice
or large Ravioli...again roasted veg or shellfish

one salad. maybe caesar with frico and interesting looking croutons

Rolls/butter

Dessert....
$25-35 a head.
no you, but possibly delivery included if close by.
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post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies "Polly" and Shroom

I know it's a low price but there are reasons for it. 1 would be that I'm giving it a shot more for the experince than anything else. It has been about 5 months since I cooked a good meal for anyone other than myself. But I could see that leading to problems down the line if everyone is happy. Then others are going to want cheap prices.

The #2 reason is that I don't have a facility. At all. well, I could prep my stuff at work on the weekend when no one is around and get away with it, so that is a possibility. So if I don't do it at work, then it comes out of my apartment.

Delivery isn't a concern because they are so close by. 7 minute drive max.


Shroom,
I've been reading alot of your post since last night. It makes me rethink getting out of the Air Force all together and get an assignment at Scott AFB so I could work and learn from you.

Anyway, they have already decided on the basic menu for their office party, so doing something different probably wouldn't work. But them saying we want lasagna leaves alot of room for me to play.
So what is your opinion on the menu options I have? The components of the seafood lasagna would all be precooked and assembled as such. That way, the scallops aren't overcooked and the only thing that would need to be done is to warm it through before service.

Should I do a contract for them? It's a local government office.

Does any of this make sense or am I babbling?
Finally following my heart to do what I love.

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post #5 of 17
thanks for the compliments.

ok. let's start at the beginning.
what have you negotiated so far? Have you given prices or have they given you a budget?
Obviously you've discussed menus.

Ok. just starting out catering. Just remember that when you get your catering kitchen you will have insurence, rent, staff, equipment, cars, repairs, accountants, taxes, licenses, advertising, just shtuff....food costs are only one part of the puzzle.
Serve Safe Class, really important.

Ok governmental office....obviously you know it's not kosher to cater from your home....enough said.

Silver Palate one of the first ones....had a good seafood lasagna recipe. It's a bear trying not to overcook the shellfish.

One Salad should do it.

Roasted Veg Penne good way to go.....don't add cheese.....that way the lactose intolerant and dieters will have something to eat.

If you've not added dessert yet, don't. $450 for 35-40....

I've got a basic dinner next Monday....dropoff for 34, they wanted the least common denominator so

Chicken with white wine cream sauce
herb rice
ginger glazed carrots
green salad with lots of goodies
homemade rolls/butter
chocolate chocolate cake
$25 a head, and he is a regular client.
$850 no tax, it's a church
no beverages, no staff, no rentals.
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post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
ok, we can talk about this and I'm glad that you are so open to discussion.

yes, we did discuss budget and my cost. They were figuring $350 for food cost which just happened to be what I had figured as well. The way I'm looking at it is that my food costs should actually come in around $175 or so. Then add in containers and the like which really wouldn't be much more for such a small number.

I have the safety stuff covered. HACCP manager, MCFE and food safety through IFSEA (I forget what they call it but it's the same stuff as ServSafe just a diff name)

Out of home, I know, not good. My work has 2 commercial kitchens that we prep all of our meal for our flights and functions, so I could use those if I wanted to. But they also posted this in a school because they wanted a student to do this and they'd have to know that I'm not going to have my own place yet, right? Maybe not...hmmm

The menu is pretty set. The only thing that isn't set on their part is what actually is going into it. We talked about it today but it was obvious from their response that they didn't really think about what they want in it. That is when I started asking more questions to get a feel for what exactly they wanted. Did they want something traditional or Stouffers-ish? Or something new?
When I suggested the seafood lasagna, they really liked the idea.

Silver Palate??? I'm not sure what this is.

They didn't specify they wanted dessert. If I did that at all, it would be as a thank you and something extra.

For that party you're doing. Does that $25pp include all of your cost?



EDIT: One other thing I should explain. The different meal options aren't to both be served on the day of the event, but as a means to help them decide what they want. Steer them in the way you want them to go without them ever knowing it. That way it is to something you know you can do or something you want to do. That's why they get 2 options. I do the same thing for the VP of the US
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post #7 of 17
Much better.
Silver Palate...NYC Catering Company, Sheila and Julie both have written for Parade Sunday magazine newspaper insert. But their main claim to fame are their cookbooks from the 1980's. That give umph to recipes.....Really good ideas with variations and hints in the side panels.

Yes, $25 covers everything for me on that menu. For whatever it's worth, this is the one that many mixed unknown groups choose so that it's not "too weird". Whatever, I'll take it any day and remember it's fairly easy and lucrative to replicate.

one of the pitfalls when you start out is all the setup, buying those cases of containers and lids, deciding if the wholesale bulk is worth it if you've only sold 30% and it's perishable.....or as in my case today getting in 14# of almond paste to make amaretti's because they will made great seasonal additions to pastry platters....but ouch the price tag.
Or taking a chance and making 6 sheet pans of marshmallows yesterday, plan on sending some out to sons and mother as a Fall treat, serving some this and next week......then hopefully moving the rest.

Now, having stepped up on the pedistal I need to tell you what happens when a regular client (non-profit doing amazing work I believe in) comes in with a low budget....typical for them, but as they are tenets in the building and good friends I take care of them.
They'll come in with a $11 person 40 guest reception. Two of the workers have severe celiacs. So for a 2 hour event, they provide all beverages....we'll do fingerfoods.....
This is what I invoiced them:

Glutin free dipping.....several dips with various dippers
Spicy shrimp something
Sandwiches of sometype to fill the hunger
Customized cookies.....icing in ziplocs with decorative garnish

*includes platters,bowls, small plates

Vague enough so that I can use whatever is in the fridge, they will get way way more by giving me the latitude. It's an adult themed party for a reproductive organization, so it's really fun planning it.

Walter Schieb had some interesting stories about his White House years.
feeding the Clintons and Bushs, we got to talking about "industry only" stories when he prepped at the kitchen.

Where are you stationed? My dad was a B58 Nav. for alot of his career...Mather in Rancho Cordova, Little Rock, Guam, England with TAC....real difference in SAC and TAC.
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post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'm in DC at Andrews AFB. I'm glad the AF brought me here because I'm close enough to home to visit on a long weekend and I really like the area here.

I got an e-mail yesterday from someone else that I cater a small party after Thanksgiving. This is was unexpected because this guy doesn't even know that I want to do my own thing but he knows what I can do. He is one of my former bosses. He wants heavy hors d'oeuvres for about 25 people. What a surprise:bounce:
Finally following my heart to do what I love.

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post #9 of 17
Hurray!!!!

Be careful having too many labor intensive last minute aps.
Room temp is wonderful, use it as much as possible.

Love to read you're menu.
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post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
some of the things I was thinking of...

mini crabcake sandwhichs with a roasted pepper sauce

thai beef salad on belgian endive

beef carpaccio with watercress, caper and lemon aoli (Casey Thompson recipe form Top Chef)

Salmon filet with honey, ginger and dill sauce

goat cheese, honey and toasted pine nuts on a toast point

mint and roasted jalepeno lamb patties

chicken tenders w/ chipotle dipping sauce

Apricot and bourbon chicken wings

I was thinking I could set up a taco bar and do my world wide famous, almost traditional tacos, but they can build it themselves.

Flank steak, fresh guacamole, roasted red pepper salsa, queso fresco, cilantro

that's all I've thought of so far

EDIT: Missed a few other thoughts.

Individual rosemary apple torts

Rosemary grilled shrimp

Flounder spinach paupiette
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post #11 of 17
FNG, all but 2 of your aps are meat based.....out of 25 people it would be rare to not have one vegetarian/dieter/special diet guest.

Heavy appetizers for how long? Guess you have access to trained staff for service.

Are these passed or stationary or a combo (usually best)?

World Famous Tacos.....sound wonderful and it's 4am.

DC is an incredible food town....Dupont Farmer's Market is amazing.
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post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
I still haven't heard back from the guy as to specifics. He just asked if I could do it and I was thinking of stuff. He asked for heavy hors d'oeuvres, which made me think of meat but I should think of some veggie based stuff.

How would you base your food quantities for time? is it like 5 apps for every person per hour or something to that effect?

hmm...
mushroom stuffed roma tomatoes

twice baked fingerling potatoes (split lengthways, scooped out, then piped back in) make a dauphine type filling

Japanese eggplant parm, sliced on the bias

eggplant rollups with a veggie hummus spread inside

puff pastry wrapped asparagus spears


of course, all of these are just ideas and not everything would be served.

No, I don't have a staff other than myself and more than likley (I'm pretty sure I know this guy well enough) he would just want me to cook everything and drop it off.

Thank you for your insights. They definately give me things to look out for and to do when it comes time to open my own doors in the next few years and go full time.
Finally following my heart to do what I love.

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post #13 of 17
okey dokey you are welcome....
Be careful having too many labor intensive last minute aps.
Room temp is wonderful, use it as much as possible.

As to amounts, depends on timing of the party....if there is dinner following....etc.....

for example I've got a party coming up that is from 4-6pm, so late afternoon but not dinner hour. up to 25 guests, one staff for refilling....they do the bar/beverages

vietnamese springrolls (vegan, dieter's delight, etc....pia but worth it)
morel caps (warm) (still veghead if they eat dairy, most do)
tart chevre with pesto, tomato (room temp, still veg dairy)
should be a meat but they opted for manchengo with membrillo

So menu is squed to dairy......but it crosses alot of territory.
They cut costs so this is what they desired in the mid-teens.....additonal costs for additional guests pp.

When there is a low guest count, sometimes it helps to put "up to x number"
That way your cooking labor is covered.
Make sure delivery is considered.....many companies add on a delivery fee if they are not staffing the party.
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post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
What do you use to decide the quantity of each app?
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post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Update:

The gov't office "changed menus" so they didn't want to use me. At least they called to say so. :rolleyes:

And the other Black Friday didn't have the amount of guest RSVP that he thought would so they didn't want anything.

Oh well.
Finally following my heart to do what I love.

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post #16 of 17
So sorry you didn't get to cater your events. Contracts with minimum counts and final guest count make catering viable.
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post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yup, when I get to doing things away from work I will be using contracts. Which reminds me that I need to go through the archives to find some examples.
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