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romantic dinner for 2

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

The menu (as specifed by the client)

Romaine lettuce salad with balsamic vinaigarette

Seared scallops

Fillet mignon

Cheesy Potatoes

Creme Brulee

 

My questions are:

 

How do I make a nice presentation of just steak and potatoes and the creme brulee? The client has recently undergone a gastric by pass and does not want sauteed mushrooms or bernaise. No raspberries on the creme brulee. I have found some scallop shells which I think will be visually appealing with a lemon wedge garnish. I wonder if I should go the extra mile for the girlfriend who does not have the same dietary restrictions or serve the same meal for both. I lean toward the later, although the 1st 2 courses are for girlfriend only.

 

I am costing out the ingredients and times 3 for the quote. Just going with book learning here, it might be outdated info.

 

TIA for any advice,

 

Cakes

 

post #2 of 9

The possibilities are endless.  First of all it's a great season for cooking so think seasonally.  Seared scallops served over corn and bacon is pretty classic.  Serving on a shell is a bit outdated for me.

 

What are "cheesy potatoes?"  Are we talking mashed potatoes with cheese, or scalloped potatoes or what?  Steak and potatoes does not need a fancy presentation.  Just serve it in the middle of a pristine white plate and the potatoes in a ramekin by its side.  Resist the urge to stick a sprig of parsley on it for decoration.

 

Good thing they don't want raspberries, they're out of season anyway.  You can make a nice port reduction of figs if you can find them, or grapes work well too.  Or you can make a pumpkin creme brulee and garnish it with spicy pecans.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakes View Post

...I am costing out the ingredients and times 3 for the quote. Just going with book learning here, it might be outdated info.

 

TIA for any advice,

 

Cakes

 

IMHO, you will be working for next to nothing if you simply triple food costs.

 

Food cost for a single meal for two, as a percentage of total cost, will be closer to 10%-15%, which means you have to multiply food cost by 7-10 to arrive at a reasonable price. Not knowing prices in your area, I'd guess food cost would be in the neighborhood of, um, $35-$50.

 

Figure you'll spend around 4 to 5 hours total, if you triple food costs, you'll be working for $70-$100, about $17.50-$25/hour. Decent pay for an employee, peanuts for an entrepreneur or business owner.

 

Depending on the details, and with the menu you set forth, I'd probably charge a minimum of $300 plus food and maybe as much as $400.

 

Remember, for the same time and the same menu, you could easily be serving 8-10 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 #4 of 9

You're looking at around six hours of work, including shopping and clean up, but not counting commute.

 

The only sane way to bill a dinner for two is for the client to cover all expenses, while you charge a fee for your services (including transportation), roughly based on your time but with a minimum.   As a recent graduate, not terribly experienced, but professional, I think a service fee of $150 would be about right. 

 

The major expenses in your menu are the filet, scallops and two bottles of wine (which you should offer to purchase), assuming you use Choice meat, a reasonable, crisp Pinot Grigio, and a big, respectable red, you're looking at around $60.

 

That probably puts the meal in the $250 range -- which is also about right for a romantic dinner served at home.  This is less than Pete would charge, but with respect to both of you, as a chef you're a little less than Pete at this stage of your respective careers.  

 

Bring your own knives and any other specialty equipment you may want -- including stupid things you rely on like your favorite spatula or melon baller.   Don't assume the client has anything in the home beyond a carton of peach yogurt with mold on it. 

 

Ask about cookware.  If all (s)he has is lightweight aluminum non-stick, you have to bring your own and you'll have to charge extra.  Ask about cutting boards, too.  Lots of homes have nothing but knife-wreckers.

 

I'm not sure what the client specified, but if it's an open subject there are something like a billion variations on filet mignon which include neither mushrooms nor Bernaise.   I won't want to waste our time discussing any of them without an invitation.  If the client supplied the menu, cook the menu. 

 

Scallops served on the shell WAS passe, but now it's charmingly retro and back.  Knock yourself out.

 

Don't forget to bring up the subjects of a pre-dinner cocktail and an after dinner drink.  It's good to have those things nailed down in advance, you want as little improvisation as possible.  The client should provide all hard liquor and special mixers (like bitters or Vermouth but not soda) unless otherwise agreed.  Also, don't forget coffee (or tea) service. 

 

Same food for both, unless otherwise agreed.

 

BDL

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thank you both for the replies. The menu has been decided by the client it is not to be questioned. I was wondering if I should serve the lady more embellished dishes since she does not have dietary restrictions or serve the same for both?

 

Steak and potatoes in a ramekin, I like that idea. Hard to give up my parsley, I think it adds a visual interest if nothing else.

 

I  had a feeling I was under pricing so I am glad to get a recommendation. The cost of groceries has been costed twice. Last request was for grass feed beef and double on the creme brulee.

 

So, one more question...beef that has been pastured only or beef that has been pastured but finished on corn? So many opinions with so many different personalties and palates. Personally, I have never had a fillet mignon that I didn't like.

 

You were right on with groceries at $50.00. But would you pay $200 per person for this meal? I know it would scare me away, but I have always been a very frugal person. I don't skimp on spending the big bucks for special occasions.

 

Thanks again,

 

Cakes

 

 

post #6 of 9

grassfed....not finished on corn

same menu.

$200 for that meal for me, no way.  But I'm not your customer...I've had customers pay $125 pp for three course plated brunch + staff ++   

$150 labor for a days' work is good for a newbie.  I'd not go much less if I were you...

 

Don't overthink it. Don't over work it.  Just make sure you've done a site visit and make sure the stove/oven works & is accurate!

 

*Important words to remember...." a 50% deposit books your date ($125) with the balance due _________"   many say day of event, most larger parties 2 weeks/10 days prior.  

 

Spell out what it includes: planning time, shopping time, prep time, travel time, cooking, cleanup.  Equipment?, staff? Gratuity? Service fee? 

 

Grassfed beef is typically much pricier than IBF....or commodity beef....make sure it doesn't eat your profit. 

 

 

 

 

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thank you BDL. I certainly have next to no experience compared to Chef Pete. But that is why I want to personal chef. Many years of family cooking and coming from a family of foodies. This forum is helping me tremendously with presenting dishes (just used to family style), pricing, and trends in food. This occasion is in a hotel with a kitchen. I will be checking it out to make sure I have the necessary equipment. I won't go anywhere without my knives and will check for ramekins (probably not) and other cooking, serving pieces. I will spend alot of time for accounting for equipment and mice en place. I made 2 salads for my daughters dress rehearsal dinner and 3 appetizers for the wedding. The good kives made a world of difference.

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakes View Post

...This occasion is in a hotel with a kitchen. ...

WARNING!laser.gifWARNING!laser.gifWARNING!

 

Be sure you know what a hotel kitchen consists of! It might be an automatic coffee pot, toaster oven, microwave, and a two burner hotplate!

 

Unless the host tells you otherwise, go with the menu picked by the host, remember the Golden Rule: S/he who has the gold, RULES!

 

To avoid embarrassing moments during a romantic dinner, I always collect any payments at the beginning of the evening, if not in advance, you never know, it might be best just to quietly slip out and avoid interruptions blushing.gif
 

 

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
Reply
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

I will be making a check of the kitchen. I contacted the hotel and have permission to inspect. I want to make sure I have all of the necessary equipment. The menu would not work with a two burner hot plate.

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