A bit of background; I am 37, I am not a trained chef, and my only 'professional experience' is from working in a steak house/ bar for a few years. I have always enjoyed cooking and experimenting with food, and have become the default cook for any holidays or gatherings of our fairly large family. Countless hours have been spent researching techniques and recipes online and in books, and I've spent more time watching the food network than I should probably admit.
My younger sister provided an outlet for my catering experiments by throwing three annual parties every year (new year's flashback, sproing, and plummet ;)) She tended bar and I kept the buffet full. We averaged 60-100 people per party and the 'menu' evolved into a collection of fairly simple hot and cold finger foods that could stay tasty all night and into the next morning.
Then, I slipped on ice, shattered my leg and became unemployable in the restaurant biz (too much of an insurance risk with a drop foot). Eventually I bought a house with a convenience store on the front and a fuelling station on the property. It backs onto a provincial conservation camping park so we have near-captive customers when the park is open, and a lot of holiday traffic passing by in the summer. The nearest towns are 15 minutes away in any direction.
On the 21st of December we got a commercial kitchen licence for a bedroom we had converted and I started baking like a person possessed. The holiday treats went over so well that a couple of people approached me about catering birthday parties. The kitchen was meant primarily for fresh food take-out, but word has spread and a few more have hired me for catering as well. I have done several tasting consultations, but the first actual event is this coming weekend.
The food is simple; pinwheels, phyllo packets, stuffed mushrooms, mini quiche, tea sandwiches, fruit & cheese trays, baked squares & cookies, etc. The only direct competition in the area is from the local Sobeys grocery. They provide freshly prepared trays of food that are comparable to what I can provide, though less 'custom' and less variety. Restaurants in the greater area provide catering for $20 per person, and up.
The soonest upcoming party is for 75 people and they've requested 6 pieces per person. So far I've figured that my food cost averages from 45c to 60c per piece. About 80-90% of the food I cook from scratch. It will likely take me about 6 hours to prepare, and they don't require servers.
So here, finally, is my dilemma: how should I set the pricing? Fairly low-brow finger food prepared literally out of my home by a self-trained 'foodie'...