29 menu items x 150 servings x (I'm guestimating now) $2/serving FOOD COST = $8,700. Even if you shave the food cost to $1/serving, you're still looking at $4,350
Rentals for chafers, Cambros, tableware, etc., will probably run something on the order of $750 -$1,500
If you are NOT using unpaid family for kitchen labor, I'm guessing something around $600-$1,200 for just the kitchen.
Assuming zero cost for transportation (which is insane IMHO) and on-site labor, your base CASH costs are somewhere between $5,700 on the low end to $11,400 on the high end, and that is excluding ANY fee for your time and trouble or any overhead for your own commercial kitchen or renting a commercial kitchen (you ARE planning to use a commercial kitchen, correct?).
Using a common, but dangerous, rule of thumb that is based on industry averages that indicate successful caterers have a food cost range of 25% to 40%, your price would calculate to $17,400 to $21,750. That's $116 to $145 per person, a pretty high end gig!
My advice? Calculate ALL of your cash costs, food, rentals, labor, transportation, kitchen rental, supplies, etc., then add on what YOU want to earn and you will have a price that will allow you to pay the bills and have some money in your pocket.
I'd first cut the menu to:
- Two, possibly three mains
- Two starches
- Three vegetables
- A salad
- A dessert
if you are looking for a low cost gig. Keep your food cost around $5-7/person ($750-$1,050), keep your rentals under $500 and your kitchen staff under $300 and your total cash costs will be in the neighborhood of $1,500 to $2,000, add on your fee of, say um, $500 and you have a price of $2,000-$2,500 or $13.33 to $16.67/person for an ordinary buffet.