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Catering Portion (and other) Questions.

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I do some small party catering specializing in Cajun and BBQ.  I had a request to price a job for "75-80 people, but have no idea how many would really come."  She said they would like the choice of two entrees (jambalaya and etouffee for example).  She said the party would be form 6-9:30 and requested "Probably entree-type food would be available from 6-7 with hors' d'oeuvres available the entire time."  So a few questions I have would be;

 

1. When someone is vague on the numer of people how you price it?  I assume you price it per plate per person for however many she requests?

2. When she says 2 entrees for "75-80 people", do you prepare enough full size portions of each entree request for the number of people plus a bit extra, or do you prepare smaller size portions of both?

3.  Roughly how many appetizers (number per guest) would you prepare?  For instance if you served bacon wrapped, cheese stuffed jalapenos, how many would you make per person and if there was more than one offering (say 3 appetizer choices) then how many servings per person would you recommend?

4. The part about the hors'd'oeuvres being available the whole time even during and after the mains...what do you recommend about this?

 

Any other helpful info anyone might want to throw my way would be appreciated!

 

Peace

post #2 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sgt. Pepper View Post

I do some small party catering specializing in Cajun and BBQ.  I had a request to price a job for "75-80 people, but have no idea how many would really come."  She said they would like the choice of two entrees (jambalaya and etouffee for example).  She said the party would be form 6-9:30 and requested "Probably entree-type food would be available from 6-7 with hors' d'oeuvres available the entire time."  So a few questions I have would be;

 

1. When someone is vague on the numer of people how you price it?  I assume you price it per plate per person for however many she requests?

For indefinite attendance, I quote per event (figuring the maximum number of attendees) rather than per person. Why? Because I have to have enough food for the maximum number (I generally provide for 5-10% overage anyway)! Either that or I get a "guaranteed head count for payment" in advance of the event with a CLEAR understanding that I will NOT be responsible for having food in excess of that count!

Quote:

2. When she says 2 entrees for "75-80 people", do you prepare enough full size portions of each entree request for the number of people plus a bit extra, or do you prepare smaller size portions of both?

Based on my knowledge of the expected attendees, I figure half to three-quarter servings of each, depending on the type and availability of appetizers/hors d'oeuvre

 

Quote:

3.  Roughly how many appetizers (number per guest) would you prepare?  For instance if you served bacon wrapped, cheese stuffed jalapenos, how many would you make per person and if there was more than one offering (say 3 appetizer choices) then how many servings per person would you recommend?

That requires some idea as to who will be attending, H.S. football players eat a lot more than Aunt Nettie's book club talker.gif It sounds like the appetizers/hors d'oeuvre will be served to the late-comers and hanger-ons while the early-birds get the entree stuff.

 

Depending on the crowd, availability of adult beverages, time of day, etc., I figure 4-6 apps/hors during the first hour and 3-4 per hour thereafter. Sometimes, to control consumption, I'll have half to all the apps/hors passed rather than free access.

 

Quote:

4. The part about the hors'd'oeuvres being available the whole time even during and after the mains...what do you recommend about this?

I wouldn't recommend it myself, if anything, I'd reverse it, apps/hors first. then entrees. But then, I don't know your area, your client so WTHDIK (that starts with What The and ends with Do I Know!)

 

 

 

 

 


 

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 #3 of 10

  The party the the 6

The party is from 6-9:30.....I'd serve aps the first hour so everyone has arrived.  1/2 stationary, 1/2 passed.

Largest guest count possible....you don't want to run out.

Jambayla is cheap, make a lot.

Etouffee or Creole are more costly.

I'm assuming you'll have salad & rolls with your entrees.

Make it easy on yourself and have some cold aps that need very little setup.

Have Fun. Bon Temp Roule cher

 

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #4 of 10

You have to agree on the menu and party size or you cannot estimate food cost. Do it up front.

If you shoot low, you'll run out of food and make the customer angry - In spite of the fact you were trying to save them money.

If you shoot high, and prep for 80 but only 50 show up - the customer is angry and will want YOU to eat the 30 extra portions.

 

You can agree to a percentage, usually no more than five to six per 100 guests overage. Maybe 10% MAX. But the customer pays for it or you discount and make costs up someplace else.

 

Your staff worries me more than the food. How do you expect to keep service quality and make money if you don't know how many people to hire for service?

 

Some tricks: If it looks like the party is not even close to the number of guests agreed - pick large football player types out of the line to offer double portions.

If you are seeing way more people, sell the half-portion suggestion to the women and old people. Takes finesse, but they will appreciate the suggestion.

 

If you overkill hors, or leave them to get stale, or keep launching salvo's of relentless finger foods into a crowd of people, they start to get annoyed.

I run drinks and small muse on the same platter. You can run-out your hors before they get stale and push more drink because people usually grab in pairs.

 

Bottom line: It's not YOUR problem if someone has a 40% variance on their RSVP. You need to get an exact commit and then build-in a +/- 5% buffer into your bid.

That buffer will also help you in the event you get some ugly chicken breasts, really fatty steak cuts or whatever you're running that day.

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #5 of 10

This client is being to vague regarding number of guest.She wants her cake and to eat it to. If she says 70 you want a minimum guarantee of lets say 65

.If 40 show up, she takes home all the rest.Why should you take the hit.? As far as Hors'd through whole party thats crazy and will cost both you and her more.

  As Pete (above post) brings out, are they little old ladies or h.s football or weight lifters team?.They eat a lot. Average 3/4 of each entree to be safe.Although if you offer lets say chicken or steak , it will be 4 to one steak as guest know steak cost more and they themselves can buy chicken cheap for home. When you figure your cost and selling price add at least 10% to price just to make sure. In catering there is no such thing as probably, maybe, or what if. everything is in the contract.

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 #6 of 10

There's some info we don't have that makes a difference.

 

ONsite or offsite? if offsite then is it in a home....will everyone have a seat at a table or is it fork food/no sitting?

 

Do you have a liquor license or are they suppling the drinks/bartender?

 

How are you staffing? Served buffet or self-serve? Drinks?

 

Are you just supplying the food?

 

One of the things I disagree with Ed is that if she says 70, I'd be charging for 70 not 65.  

ABSOLUTELY hammer out the # of guests prior to accepting the job.  It will only get ugly if you don't.  Final guest count day

typically 7-10 days prior to the event. After that the count may go up but not down, if it goes up there's a $+.

 

 

I'm reading into this that it's a casual party. 

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #7 of 10

Hors's d table 4 selections 1.5 per person, in Cajun country that gets boosted up to 12 per person.(only kidding)........You need to ask if it's a sit down or buffet, I figure buffet or she needs to give you a count for each entree and knowledge of where each plate goes. I always charge for the guarantee count, this is her party, she needs to give you the proper info to make it a success, don't let her give you a 10 or 20 person variance, she's looking for an easy way out, don't let her make you the scape goat. If you have a buffet, you need to figure out a portion size of each entree that fits on the plate along with the sides, if you only had one entree, it would of course be a larger portion than offering two entrees.....................The best......................ChefBillyB

post #8 of 10

As I said in catering forum before. I give a 5% leeway based on 100 guest,   97 1/2  minimum you pay on 100 guarantee or 102 1/2 the most. I will be prepared to feed on a 100 guarantee at the site of function.

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...

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post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

As I said in catering forum before. I give a 5% leeway based on 100 guest,   97 1/2  minimum you pay on 100 guarantee or 102 1/2 the most. I will be prepared to feed on a 100 guarantee at the site of function.



Catering is probably the most difficult Chef job there is. I like your statement, ChefDB - Cut and Dry.

 

Sgt. Pepper - What is the cost for 100-person cauldron of Crayfish Estouffee?

All the work that goes into the wrapped peppers - just have thirty or so on the ready. They cook in what? 10 minutes?

   Whatever is left you can give to the client as part of the cost. They should freeze well : )

 

 

 

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #10 of 10

Be vary careful with a host or hostess that won't sign a minimum guarantee or maximum That is why . I like my 5% under / over because this way they cant blame you if you run out . You have put the ball in their court so to speak..You are not the lord and can't feed the multitudes with 2 loaves of bread.. This applies in particular to a sit down luncheon or dinner.

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
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