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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Old 05-12-2014, 01:26 AM   #1
cvince75
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Join Date: 05-08-14
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Default Help figuring out how much meat to buy for first catering gig

First time poster here. My friend and I are catering our first paid job in June for 100 guests. Previously we've catered two charity events for 50 guests. Our customer wants brisket, pork and chicken. We're stuck trying to figure out how much meat to buy. We're figuring a meat serving of 1/2 lb (8 oz) per person.

I've seen raw to cooked meat yields ranging from 50%-65%, so how much raw meat should we buy to yield how much cooked meat? Should we cook enough to provide 1/2 lb serving of each meat to all 100 guests, or a 1/2 lb serving of all three meats combined? And what do you recommend for chicken - bone-in thighs or boneless breasts?

Thank you in advance for your help!
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Old 05-12-2014, 10:46 AM   #2
poorolddan
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We need more info. Lunch or dinner. Buffet or served? Self serve buffet or servers? Mix of males females? Age group. Tied to an event like golf outing or wedding reception? This will give us a start to offer suggestions.
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Old 05-12-2014, 10:49 AM   #3
bizznessman
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Regarding brisket & pork you can expect a cook/prep loss from 45% to 50% depending on how much trimming you do. i.e. 100 lbs raw will yield from 50 to 55 lbs cooked. (price is basically 3 times the raw cost)

Regarding chicken (assuming pulled) you can expect a cook loss of 50% to 55%. i.e. 100 lbs raw will yield from 50 to 45 lbs cooked. If serving thighs/breasts there really is virtually no loss in cook/prep so we charge by the piece (3 times our cost).

Regarding how much to serve: You should discuss this with your client. There are two possible methods.

1) Ask them to tell you how much of each they wish to purchase. If they ask for guidance then tell them that a normal serving size, per person, for a three meat choice is around 4 oz. This puts them in the drive seat pertaining to quantities.

2) If they want you to decide then be sure that you cover yourself with regards to "not running out" and waste. In this case we usually will provide enough meat for 4 oz of EACH meat per person. Depending on the age mix of the customers we may add a 10-15% buffer (men tend to eat more, ladies less, young children less, youths more, etc)

We have found that 4 oz is a good average serving size (6 is quite a bit and although a few may take this much the avg is usually around the 4 oz size). The 4 oz serving also holds true if there are sides being served. People tend to take smaller servings of meat if sides are available. If serving will be buffet self serve style then place your foods in order of least expensive first so they will load their plate up with lower cost items before they get to the food. Using smaller plates will help control the serving sizes also with self serve.

Another thing to consider. Are you serving the meat or is it self serve. If you are serving you can control the serving sizes pretty close. If it is self serve then we always add the buffer amount.

Another suggestion is to work up a written contract stating quantities ordered, serving/delivery process, items supplied (plates, silverware, tables, chairs.....), etc with all costs itemized. Our contract includes a 50% deposit due upon signing (non-refundable after a certain date) which covers our cost of goods and prep work in case they cancel at the last minute (it happens more times than you might think).
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Old 05-12-2014, 11:10 AM   #4
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We always serve/figure (in our restaurant and catering) a 1/3 of a cooked pound per person. In our experience (we've been doing this for for 7 1/2 years now) when people are faced with really good BBQ they'll eat more than you think and will eat much smaller portions of the sides. We've found that the 1/3 of a pound per person (unless your feeding a group of male construction worker's) works because women and little kids will eat less and the men will eat more so it all balances in the end. Hope this helps.
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Old 05-12-2014, 02:26 PM   #5
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We did an event recently where we also served chicken, pork and brisket. We served chicken quarters which were about one pound each and are relatively cheap at Restaurant Depot (was $0.55/lb at the time). And since we were serving three meats and two sides we portioned the pork and brisket at 4oz each. Including the two sides, the customers were getting almost 2 lbs of food. For a normal catering gig this would border on the side of too much food, but since we were feeding soldiers, they damn near ate it all.
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