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new to the food industry

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi there! 


I am an Event Coordinator for a country club in Illinois. We don't have the restaurant open, but we do private banquets and event. I have a chef that comes in for these. Although, sometimes it is hard to get a hold of him. 


I'm not just in charge of the banquets set up, i  also have to make the menu for that event and order the food.  


I have absolutely NO restaurant experience. Since working banquets here, I bus now and then and will tend bar sometimes, but that's about it. 


Does anyone have any advice to make creating menus for clients easier and low cost? 


Thank you!

post #2 of 14

Hire a chef. A party planner has no business planning menus and ordering food.

post #3 of 14

I'm wondering why the club has you doing this if you have zero restaurant experience. I agree with Chefbuba.  

Can you provide any more details on your situation? 

post #4 of 14
Here's what I read into your post, TVB,

Your club has an expensive kitchen and diningroom, but isn't using these faciities regularily even though its May and tommorow is mom's day

Your Chef is on an on call basis,which means both chef and the club don't take his job seriously

The bar is functioning on a daily basis which is probably all the club really cares about.

Club is basically throwing the whole F &B operation at you, even though you have no practical restaurant experience.

Em eye see, kay ee why, em oh you ess ee

Thats one club board of directors I don't ever want to meet......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

The previous event coordinator did all of the ordering and menu planning as well. she used to be a server before that, so they assumed that i could be trained for this. I went with it because in my area, there are very few jobs that are higher than $10/hr and this pays well.


It has been a huge learning process, and i don't feel as if it is correct for me to do it. but I am not provided the resources to learn accurately and it is hard for me to promote the banquet space and do the food. But it is the only option i have, right now, unfortunately.  

post #6 of 14
Lesson 1:

When you do the menus and do the ordering, you are ultimately responsible for the food cost.

Are you ready for this responsibility?
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #7 of 14

It seems that you are being set up to fail.  Do not expect the private club to give you much support.  The management will hang you out to dry.  You may be up to it though and able to be successful. I hope that is the case.  Maybe the club would let you have a stable of consulting chefs.  Good luck.

post #8 of 14

Sounds like you may have to teach yourself.

Make a list of what you realize you need to learn and start researching.

The more you read the more questions you will have so add those to the list as they pop up.

It will be slow going but better than nothing.

Come back here if you don't understand or cannot figure out which would be the better solution.

Welcome to Chef Talk.



post #9 of 14

Find out who the idiots are that put you in this position. Your not in a real good situation to succeed. I can't see how you could book a party not knowing if the food will be cooked to the specifications you promised to your client. I would not book a party unless I knew I could give my client what was promised. Doing no parties is better than getting a bad reputation for doing bad parties.....Call a Caterer and just make money on the room rental. ........Chef Bill

post #10 of 14

My first concern is that you have the responsibility so my question is do you have the authority?  Which decisions you make will be questioned and by whom? At some point the needs you have to run this successfully will come up against the club managements perceptions of how it should be and the limits they may not know they have. 

     So I think I would sit down and figure out where your limitations or operating parameters will be in this respect. Menus can be made simpler by some knowledge of local distributors and availability of foods, general client preferences and equipment in house. So if the typical customers usually order hamburgers and pasta dishes, there is no need to worry about fancy lettuces and caviar. 

     The conflict will come when you need to purchase a six foot grill to provide the hamburgers for large events but the club doesn't see why they should stop using the collection of tiny Weber grills they have gotten by with up until now. 

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

That's the hardest part!  Since I have not had any education in food cost and where it needs to be, I'm lost. I've asked my chef and he said about 33%, but others i have spoke with have said 23%.  The owner of the building says he would like to cost at 33%,though in this area, that is a high cost per person. Not many people are willing to pay. I made a menu throughout this past December and the brides that have weddings next year have chosen off of it, and seem to be happy with their choice. but it is fewer weddings than I hoped. 


The authority I maintain is not too much. I'm in charge of making sure the chef shows up, wait staff, etc. But in regards to hiring/firing, I am not in charge of. It has happened where my chef did not show up and I ended up cooking the breakfast for the company meeting of 30 guests. I surprisingly did an OK job! I was proud of myself at least and there weren't any complaints. But nothing happened to that chef since that incident and i don't have any authority to do anything. 


I just smile and try and do my job the best I can, because I do enjoy the 'event coordinating' portion of it, i am not a fan of dealing with food!

post #12 of 14

Food cost is typically thought of around 30% but that is at the end of the day after waste, trimming, theft, whatever. So you begin working towards a 22% food cost goal and keep tight track on the rest and hopefully you end up less or far less than 30%. There are plenty of threads here for you to find quite an education on how to achieve this. 

    When planning weddings and events, keep notes on what the brides request for food and what they finally agree on so you can assess what you might offer in future once you work out purveyors, availability, costs and the like. Whatever you do, keep it an honest effort and a quality experience. Word will spread for better or worse about their experience with you so I'd expect bookings to       increase as the guests have quality experiences with you and talk it up. 

     You've seen the movie "The Big Lebowski"? The dude abides, as he mentions frequently. You obviously have to do some abiding too apparently. 

But still… 

Given that you like the job and will  do it even within the parameters you have, sit down and think about where you would like the operation to go and then work out how you might get there. ( And before I forget to mention, work out an equitable pay arrangement with the owner based on increased business) Don't wait for the chef to screw you over again. Search out some local talent on your own. When the time comes, the owner might just ask "Well, do you have any one in mind?" 

And you can have a ready answer. The same with waitstaff, bartenders, etc. Start building your own list of potential employees. Do the same with purveyors, repair people,etc. 

     How many local groups can you market the operation to? Just weddings or could you get members of the general public to hold events there?  Can you create events for anyone?

It sounds like the property is just sitting there and the owner would like to see some revenue but isn't willing to commit to hiring a large staff until there's an actual customer base. If that's not correct, let me know. But assuming it is, I would start thinking as if this were my own business. You have a paid job and a ready property, all you have to do is create the business. 

If you are able to do this, would the owner be willing to relinquish more authority, once he sees you are serious about running the place? 

Much of course depends on the owner and his motivations. But if you can have a good relationship with him and he's agreeable, I'd look at myself as an owner of an event business and begin keeping records accordingly.  

post #13 of 14

I think ChefBillyB has the best advice for this situation: Hire a caterer. They quote on price per person, and will let you focus on planning the actual event.

But even then you have to ask yourself why the club is throwing the whole mess in your lap when you have no kitchen experience. It just doesn't smell right.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

That is also what i was think Foodpump!  It confuses me. 

I would like to thank everyone for their input and advice! I feel like we are all on the same wavelength. I will keep trying to convince them to go to a caterer since this isn't something i think I could handle in the long-run. 

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