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How much do you pay for a catered meal

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I'm not a pro, but i love to cook. I've done a lot of small (8 people or less) parties and have "catered" cocktail parties for up to 50 people. Usually they buy the food.

But.a friend has asked what I would charge to do a dinner party of 25-30 people. I explained that i have no help and no special warming units or anything like that. i suggested a cold buffet (like seafood salad, steak salad, home-made bread, etc.) and a cple of hot appetizers along with some cold ones, and dessert.

She has never done this before; neither have I. She may want a "fancier hot" entree. I suggested that maybe she pay for the food and something for my time - if I can do it.

The thought then came to me that what do folks in the Philly burbs pay per person for a "fancy" catered affair? This is an upscale community, but we are not talking over the top, nor do I have to worry about liquor. These are younger folks.

Any help and suggestions would be appreciated. I'll be calling a a few local caterers as well, but thought it might be nice to hear from the client side (since I suspect some of you were NOT happy with what you got).

Any advice, suggestions, critques, etc.? Thanks for the input in advance

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  1. I would suggest that an average rate for your time is $25/hour.

    Additionally, you would probably want to charge a per person price based on your menu. Typically your actual food cost should be about 25% of that price... So, if it is going to cost you around $10 pp to go out and buy the food, you would charge $40 pp to cover the expense of shopping and prepping the food and the use of your own kitchen staples.

    Additionally, you should consider the cost of any dishes of kitchen equipment that you'll need to rent.

    It's alot of work-- don't undercut yourself!

    2 Replies
    1. re: xtian

      In my experience, $25/hour is what to a pay a server, not a chef for a catered event. Most catering captains/chefs are paid $40 and up an hour...

      1. re: xtian

        Thank you! To both of you. So far, I find a lot of folks asking for more than that, but it's in the ballpark for what I'm doing. To be honest, most of it is "home-style cooking" for older seniors. The prep work for that is easy as is the shopping.

      2. When people ask me, i usually say my rates are $35/hr. $100/meal, $250/day or $1000/week. Som e of these types of gigs have required me to travel (to some GREAT places!) and live-in (5 1/2 days working week), so i guess I'm in the ballpark. Some of the folks i checked with want more than that, but then they are professionals. But heck, if I do it and I get paid, i guess I'm a professional too!..LOL