Note: Discuss price points first and foremost.
Every once in a while I get the call to cater a party or an event.
The last one I catered was a lesson to remember…I did not discuss the cost with the client before creating the menu.
The first sample menu was met with wild abandon, utter joy that such food could be served at the party.
Note: Your time matters, charge a fee for menu consulting.
A message was sent stating it may rain and they would like to see an an indoor menu.
Back to the drawing board for round two.
Note: Never, ever, make assumptions based on friendships and/or knowledge of the client’s net worth.
The clients loved it and was very excited to get started.
As soon as the pricing and costs were submitted the bargaining began – they wanted the food made as cheaply as possible. I would never compromise on ingredients.
At this time the clients wanted, “A simple salad, a cheap main course, and forget about the dessert.”
Thoughts of sending them to Subway or McDonalds ran through my mind but I was too ashamed for them to suggest it out loud.
Number three menu:
Note: Never, ever cater a party without an assistant.
The clients cut costs by declining an additional helper, they insisted they would be doing the assistant’s job. There was nary a person to help that evening, the clients were guests at their own party.
They also declined a photographer but enquired about a camera upon my arrival.
Before we go on – The party was a wild success, guests loved the dishes and oohed at the presentations, and at the end of the day I had a chance to showcase local stores, organic foods from local farmers. butchers and suppliers. I also had an audience to talk to about the merits of food-purity.
This party taught me a lot of “What Not To Do.”
But remember this always – out of the most awful of experiences will emerge the most profound convictions.
If you love cooking and you love feeding people, be a smart and tough businesswoman/man, have fun and always learn from the screw-ups.
That evening I was the caterer/demo cook/helper/dishwasher/host of the entire affair – cooking a la minute, plating and serving all at once. Plus performing cooking demos, answering endless questions and trying to control guests from snatching at dishes as I was in the process of plating.
What made this entire situation not as painful as it should’ve been?
I shared knowledge about our local producers, and nailed home the importance of knowing where our food comes from.
The total amount, spent on supplies, to feed 28 people 7 courses was $618.00.
Mileage and parking cost about $200.00.
Total paid to Eathical Catering $800.00
I actually worked for free and paid them 18 dollars for the pleasure of it.