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Pricing and portions

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Still fairly new to the caterering business.  Only been in business a year.  We are still trying to up our level of professionalism and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I am not sure about pricing and portions for food stations.  Have and event next week for 150.  The menu for the event is roast beef and pork loin, carrots, fully loaded mashed potatoes, butternut squash, greenbeans, garden salad, homemade bread for one station then three pastas with three sauces with three meats, homemade bread sticks, cesar salad at a station with a dessert bar of reece's brownies, cherry chocolate flan, peach cream cheese flan, fruit salad with whipping cream.  While we will also have an appetizer bar with smoked salmon with toppings and garlic toast rounds, homemade hand rolled meatballs regular and hot with apricot sauce and burbon sauce, jalapeno shrimp salad and waldorf salad on cucumber rounds.  When serving this much food for people how do you price your menu?  Normally we price per plate at a modest price and have figured out what we need to do for a serving size.  How do you figure your serving size with this much food? 

post #2 of 21

best shot in the dark....

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #3 of 21

Holy moly that is a LOT of food!!!  I think you went a little overboard on the menu planning.  Probably around $30-$40 per person?  Plus staffing?

 

As far as food quantities, if you want everyone to have a little bit of everything, you'll need a lot of food.  Plus you'll have leftovers.  I will see if I can get back here today to give you some advice.

 

-Kevin

post #4 of 21

IMHO, you first need to identify ALL your costs, food, labor, rentals, overhead, etc. Add your desired profit and the total is the MINIMUM you must charge. Divide that number by the anticipated or billing head count if you want $/person. If you charge less than this, you WILL go bankrupt!

 

Know what your client's budget is as well as what your competition charges, if you charge more than this, you WILL go out of business due to lack of sales.

 

With regards to quantities, you can only SWAG the answer. But some guidelines might be (per person)

  • total protein less than 8 ounces, if two majors, then 4 ounces (cooked) each, maybe 5
  • total starch, probably no more than 4-6 ounces, those that eat pasta probably won't touch potatoes.
  • total vegetable, probably 4-6 ounces

 

Personally, I'd be SURE that the traffic flow made sure that proteins, especially the beef and pork, are served LAST, after they fill their plates with pasta, salad, potatoes, veggies. Make sure that plates are only available at the beginning of the salad/starch/veggie line well away from the beef/pork station

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 21

A way to control food is passing some or all appetizers.....you control how and what comes out of the kitchen.

Less in many ways is more for you.  It's so much easier to have fewer options and in the end you have less waste=usually better profit.

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 21

As Pete says'' You have to sit down    Before Not After    the fact and figure out your bulk cost of food, then service, then overhead in order to compute a per person price, And with this much food you had better do it right or you wont be in business long. You have a load of high cost and labor intensive product here. I would do this in stations spread around the walls of the intended room. Make the Pastas the focal point so people will gravitate toward that .Meat and expensive items to far sides Dessert station Dead Center so people see when coming in and leave room to eat a dessert therefore less high cost items.. Do not use Large Plates if possible 9 inch max..   rolls and breads on every station. INSIST on a minimum guarantee of people no exceptions. . Good Luck

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

This grew from our standard buffet line with two meat choices feeding 70 to what I listed above.  Thank you so much for your insight.  I have been a little overwhelmed with the increase and not ever used an on site carving station.  There are no facilities at the banquet hall and we will be working basically out of a closet.  Your advice has been very valuable. 

post #8 of 21

How much did you end up charging for this?  And what will you be using for quantities? 

 

Sorry I can't really help out, but I just can't wrap my head around the number of choices.  The food choices look great though, for the guests.

 

-Kevin

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

Ended up charging $25 per person plus mileage plus $6 for rentals they wanted real plates, silverware, glasses and linens.  We did talk them out of having to cut the meat on site since there are no facilities to work out of and we will be a foyer.  This relieved some stress and I didn't have to hire another person to help cut meat on site.

post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyntheApron View Post

Ended up charging $25 per person plus mileage plus $6 for rentals they wanted real plates, silverware, glasses and linens.  We did talk them out of having to cut the meat on site since there are no facilities to work out of and we will be a foyer.  This relieved some stress and I didn't have to hire another person to help cut meat on site.

Hope you nailed down a "minimum head count" and YOU get to do the counting!

 

Since you are renting the china, that should be straight forward, every plate above the guaranteed minimum is PROFIT!

 

People often forget that the total revenue is $/person TIMES the # of people while total expenses are virtually the same even if only half the people show up! Your rental costs are $6/person and, say, your food cost is, oh say um, $10/person and the client thinks there will be 150 people so your costs are $2,400 plus labor, say oh, $300?? So, total cost is $2,700.

 

If you only get paid for the 100 who show up, you just worked for free and you're out of pocket $200! 

 

On the other hand, if you have a guaranteed minimum of 150, you just made a profit of $1,050 (that's $7/person)! And if 10 extras show up, there's another $250 in your pocket (that's $25/person for the extra people!)
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #11 of 21

Next time you do rentals try this, it was common practice in NY. Patron pays rental. You present patron with bill from rental Co.You make 0 on this invoice ,so customer thinks. You establish prior with rental co that you do business with that you receive 15% rebate. Keeps everybody happy.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #12 of 21

or in the midwest we increase rental amount by 10-20% over clients' cost to cover our time in ordering, checking in, checking out and making sure everything is in good repair.  We spend time with customers so they understand why it's important to order certain things and not others.

The rental companies kick in 15% to not have to deal with lay people and at the end of the day you've got 25%...

Some caterers charge for their own equipment, others use it as a bartering chip.

 

 

 roast beef and pork loin, carrots, fully loaded mashed potatoes, butternut squash, greenbeans, garden salad, homemade bread for one station

 

2 meat buffet $35-45

this would be a meal

 

then three pastas with three sauces with three meats, homemade bread sticks, cesar salad at a station

Pasta station  with all this $25-35pp

This would be a meal unto itself

 

with a dessert bar of reece's brownies, cherry chocolate flan, peach cream cheese flan, fruit salad with whipping cream.

$7-12pp

 

  While we will also have an appetizer bar with smoked salmon with toppings and garlic toast rounds, homemade hand rolled meatballs regular and hot with apricot sauce and burbon sauce, jalapeno shrimp salad and waldorf salad on cucumber rounds.

5 appetizers including shrimp.....$3-5 per app selection, pp....$15-25pp for aps alone

 

 

 

 

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 

I used Chef Pete's suggestions for portions.  Food is bought and they have called to drop the numbers.  Back down to closer to where we started this adventure.  I explained to them my policy of cancellations prior to 10 days before the event.  We came to agreement.  The 60 plates they are dropping they still have to pay 50% of the plate cost to cover my expenses.  Now we are down to preparing 90 plates instead of 150.  This is the first time anyone has changed the numbers on me down.  I have had them add numbers.  So now my bid sheet has changed with more information on it.  I will now have them sign a contract with the cancellation policy.  I guess after being in business over a year it was bound to happen sometime.  Thank you all for all your wonderful advice and help.  I am putting it to good use.  The event is Friday.  I can't wait for it to be over.  Off to hand roll the meatballs.  Thank you again will report back after the event.

The Lady in the Apron, Julie

post #14 of 21

In the future, you could tell them I'll pack the other dinners for you to take with you.. Make sure your contract is a standard catering contract which encompasses a lot of protection for you. Not only guarantees of minimum counts.,but other factors also. If you want some things to add to it just ask.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #15 of 21

 

Quote:
The 60 plates they are dropping they still have to pay 50% of the plate cost to cover my expenses.

Is that 50% of plate price or plate cost? The first makes some sense (though I think you are giving away money), the second is insanity! For me, my plate price, i.e. plate cost plus plate profit, is based on ALL my costs PLUS what I want as profit, and then I divide by the pay count to arrive at a $/person figure.

 

For me, final head count (pay count) is NEVER later than two weeks prior to an event, period!

 

Add-on head count(s) accepted up to 72 hours before the event, sometimes 96 hours in the event of certain menus.

 

Add-on on the event day are strictly as available, absolutely NO guarantees!

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #16 of 21

"after this date you may increase your guest count (additional $$pp) but it may not decrease".

 

Julie, we all go through that learning curve....kinda leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, the 60 plates are a big part of the profit.....exponentially it takes less work for bigger head count.

A kajillion years ago I had volume pricing, typically for non-profit hodos ex: 251-300 is $14.pp, 150-250 is $17pp, 50-149 is $19pp .....backfired, seems like a bunch of people would book 251 to get the lower pp rate for a ballpark guest count....learning curve, crash.

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #17 of 21

I also used to pull this. I gave a 5% leeway . Meaning if you guaranteed 100 you would be charged 97  1/2 even if 75 showed up. And I was prepared to serve 102 1/2  which is 2 1/2 under and 2 1/2 over Thats 5%   I also charged for kids not half price but 3 for 2 that means 3 kids were billed as 1 couple, so assuming 100.00 a couple Kids were 33 and not 25. It cost you the same to have them as adults.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #18 of 21

one of the best comments I've heard was, "I don't charge more for children, they take more energy from staff "

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 

We made it through.  Overwhelmed, great amount of food left over 32 1/2 pans with lids sent home with the family.  Only served 66.  More to the orginal number of 70 that we started with weeks ago.  Had trouble getting the pasta hot and the sauce hot.  We left at 3:00p to serve at 7p.  So all of the sauces and pastas had to be heated on site without any faclities.  We used crock pots to heat the sauce and hot water from the coffee pot to heat the pasta.  We did get paid that night and I am glad it is over.  Instead of carving the meat on station we opted to carve with electric knife in the little closet they let us set up in and I mean little closet.  They would bring it out to the marble cutting boards for me and served it from there.  We made due to get through.  Thank you for all the advice.  I would love for a copy of anyones contract that would share.  My email is simplydelectablecatering@yahoo.com.  This would help in knowing what to have customers sign.

post #20 of 21

32? wow.   make sure to keep notes so that you'll know how much to plan for in the future.

 

at the top of the page there's a search engine that has 10 years of Cheftalk info.....type in catering contracts and umpteen pages of past info will come up.

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 

Oh wonderful thank you!!!

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