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Sep 12, 2012 03:28 PM

advice on a "partial" caterer

Hi Chowhounds,

I'm hosting an open house for a group of parents and kids next month. Initially, I was just going to grill up some hotdogs and hamburgers, but unexpectedly, the number of attendees have swelled and doubled in size!

I know if I try to cook for everyone, I will miss the entire party!

So I want your advice: if I want to hire someone who can help do some basic cooking, what kind of person am I looking for? I'm not looking for a caterer per se because there's really no specialty cooking involved. And it's not just a "server" because they'd be doing some grilling and taking tator tots out of the oven!

So thanks for telling me how to even ASK for this type of person, and finally, what's the market rate I should expect to pay?

Thanks for all of your sound advice and any referrals!

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  1. If you frequent any restaurants where you are friendly with the staff or owners, you might ask if one of the short order cooks does outside work.

    Similarly, one of the cafeteria staff at your kids school may do this. I've hired such help in the past to work grill and ovens at parties.

    Lastly, look at Craigslist under 'Events' you often find independent party staff there.
    Market Rate? Depends on where you are located. I can get this type of help for 20/hr in southern CT, but would expect to pay at least double in NYC

    1 Reply
    1. re: bagelman01

      Excellent advice, BM. In addition to the kid's school, I would also check with any culinary schools for any aspiring chefs who might want to pick up a few extra bucks. We did that once in CA where we got the son of a co-worker, who was attending the culinary institute, to do a taco party for a b'day.

    2. Caterers will be able to steer you to or supply you with staff, even if they are not catering the event.

      1. I'm available and will work for food. Where are you? :~)

        2 Replies
        1. re: todao

          ha ha! You're funny! I'm happy to pay a good person to help me out. What's your food/cooking background? You can email me your resume at Thank you!

          1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

            Well, unless you live in or around Sacramento California it probably wouldn't work anyhow.
            Hey, just to help you in making your selection of who will help. I'd like to share that a fraternal organization I used to be associated with hired a new "chef" who had just graduated from a rather well known culinary school. The guy had his chef's hat and all the other trappings of a chef but the first meal he served (Coq au vin) was worse than terrible. We didn't keep him on payroll for another meal.

        2. I would post an ad on Craigslist under Food for a restaurant cook who wants to work for your party on his day off.

          depends on how many hrs you are looking at, but $15/hr is a good starting point.

          1. I would add any local vocational schools with food or kitchen programs.
            Also have sourced at local bartending school,many already have a bit of kitchen or table experience.