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My First Gig

1809 Views 11 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  marmalady
Hey everyone - I got my first professional catering gig!! It will be for 75 people, buffet style with a Caribbean theme. When I was asked if I could do it, I said, "Sure" without hesitation. As soon as I put a sample hors d'oeuvre menu together and faxed it off I began to get real nervous. As soon as the client returned her selections and I needed to price out the menu for her I realized that it would be more than what she originally told me she wanted to spend. Even though this was a personal friend and my first event, my anal business sense told me NOT to do this for breakeven just for the experience. So I asked for an increase and got it. All my nervousness has now turned to excitement. :bounce: Wish me luck!!

Any of you have an interesting first?
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Congrats, Cat!

My one piece of advice to you is make lists; lots of lists!!! Make grocery lists for each store you'll have to use; make your cost breakdown list; I do initial estimates, then have a second column for actual cost -it's a good way to see how your 'in the head' estimates price out in actuality. Make a list of the utensils you'll need, and the dishes, etc. Are you renting dishes, etc.? Or is this a 'paper party'? Make a list of your daily mise en place, and check off each item as you complete it. Make sure to list all the 'little' things that get overlooked so often; garnishes, sauces, etc. At the end of a very long day, when it seems you've been spinning your wheels all day, it's reassuring to look at your list with all the things checked off, and realized you've accomplished quite a bit! Oh, and as you get close to the event, make a list for your servers, with serving times and items, and post it in the kitchen, so they can see, 'hodo's from 6-7, dinner from 7-8', whatever.

And good for you for not backing down on price. I've actually just done that, but I'm going to post a new thread to tell about it.

Good luck!
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Hey, Cat, add my grins, too!:D :D :D

Re sketching out the table - I usually do a rough idea and then doodle with it as I do my prep, or when I plate, so I can actually see the dishes on the platters. I'm sooooo visually oriented! Oftentimes what looks good on paper sits a little differently on the table. So I goof around a lot at the last minute and change things around.

Re saving/resuing your fruit garnishes - don't count on them not being eaten! I've had folks eat the flowers off the trays and even snag the fresh herb sprigs! But I wouldn't re-use them, as you don't know who's sneezed or pawed them over (gross, huh?!)

Re your 'pd in full'; how are you arranging payment for your servers? Will that happen at the event? I usually state in my contract what the server's fees will be (including gratuity) and ask that they have cash on hand to pay the fees. I hate giving servers checks; there's something about the gleam in their eyes when they see the greenbacks!
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I don't know, Cat - for 75 people, I think I'd want at least one other person there with me. There's going to be a lot of 'timing' issues going on; getting the hodo's all out (I'm assuming they're all stationery?); are you doing chafers for the hot dishes? And for 75, there will be last minute runs to the kitchen for refills. Not to mention the cleanup! You could do it yourself, I suppose....! Do you have a friend who thinks you're the greatest thing since sliced bread and worships the idea of your going out on your own?! Maybe you could recruit him/her for slave wages! On the other hand, husbands have often proved to be the source of cheap labor!

Raising platters under the tablecloth - just about anything sturdy and big enough to hold the dish; large baskets with flat bottoms; little wooden boxes; sturdy cardboard boxes; and a beautiful tablecloth - just be sure it's big enough to handle all the draping!

Over the cloth - go to yard sales and flea markets and look for pedestal cake plates, etc. Pretty soon your garage is going to look like a funky kitchen store anyway - may as well start now!
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Way to go, Peach! And I'm sure Catciao will soon be up to your level of skill and speed! L oved your 6-P's, too!
:bounce: :bounce: :bounce:

WAY TO GO, GIRL!!!!!! Sounds like you're hooked!
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