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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Unread 03-30-2009, 09:15 PM   #16
BBQchef33
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Originally Posted by bbqbull View Post
Phil, I hope you have some type of caterers insurance policy.

I dont/wont and flat arse refuse to cook off site of my own property without it.

Turn down work all the time and thats ok.

If I cook the food on my own property and deliver it to another site Im covered under my home owners policy.

You're right, and I know that.

This guy has worked with sharon for years and she thinks feels hes on the up & up.. Talking to him, and expaining my liabilities, he said just come and show me what to do.

The plan would be to pull my trailer right into his yard, unload the cooker, put on the show.

I usually turn these things down just for the reasons u mentioned. Think I'm going to look into the BoH stuff for 'personal chef' type things.
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Unread 03-30-2009, 09:27 PM   #17
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It sounds to me that he is hiring you as a consultant then.
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Unread 03-31-2009, 01:06 AM   #18
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Sorry I missed this one yesterday as it's RIGHT up my alley. I have run a personal chef service in CA for the past three years.

First off, unless the laws in NY are far different from CA, which may or may not be the case, your homeowners insurance will NOT cover you in ANY form of food service liability. I would get it IN WRITING from your insurance if they tell you otherwise. Homeowners insurance is just that, for a home owner. Coverage of ANY sort of commercial enterprise (i.e. you getting paid for work output) is strictly NOT covered.

Personal chef insurance is NOT all that expensive. I have a $2M/$4M liability policy for my personal chef business and pay less than $500 per year. Note that this type of coverage (PC insurance) is VERY specialized, and 99% of agents have NO IDEA how to cover a PC or write a policy that will even begin to cover this type of business for under $2500 per year. (And, even then, when all is said and done, you and your business may still not be covered correctly.)

Secondly, again, based on the Health and Safety laws in CA, which are NOT dis-similar to most states with which I am familiar, cooking in ANY not state inspected kitchen for delivery to an off site event is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. Almost all states require that food prep be done either on the site of the event, or in some sort of state inspected commercial kitchen environment. You can get by with cooking in your outdoor smoker, or BBQ equipment, but all of your prep work must be done either at the site of the event (following HD regulations), or in a commercial facility. Again, in most states, you CAN prep in a commercial facility, transport the food to the event site for cooking on your equipment, and then do the food service work at the site of the event. An example of this would be prepping your butts, chicken, and ribs with rub etc. would be done in a commercial kitchen. You could then refrigerate the prepared product in refrigerators or in ice chests with thermometers to confirm the internal temps of the coolers. The product could then be transported in the coolers to the site of the event, and cooked on site. Once cooked, the food can be processed and served on site, and you are still legal. Of course all along the way, you are required to adhere to the HD requirements in place for the jurisdiction in which you are working.

To answer your original question as to how much to charge, I would generally charge somewhere from $1700-$2500 plus the actual cost of food and supplies for this sort of event. (I give each client a "not to exceed" budget estimate for the cost of food and supplies, and I guarantee that rate. The client gets the actual receipts, so they know I'm not skimming them on those dollars. Fact is, 99% of the time, I come in under budget on the cost of food and supplies.) For that fee, I own the responsibility for shopping and getting all of the food to the event (liability requirement for my insurance), and having it all cooked, prepared and ready for service. I clean up and deal with the food related trash at the end of the event as well. Tables, service equipment, dishes and silverware are all at an additional charge. If the client wants actual table service (i.e. with wait staff) that also is an additional charge. For 150 people, I normally will use 1-2 additional people besides myself, and that staffing IS included in the base price quoted above. (again, my insurance requires these people to be on my 'staff'.) Oh, and just for reference, that price is NOT considered to be high for this sort of service. And, yes, I get this sort of business on a regular basis, though I admit that events of this size are NOT in my 'sweet spot'. (I generally specialize, by choice, in events for fewer than 50 people.)

I'd be happy to address any questions you may still have. I will always be up front that what I know to be true will be from the rules and laws I have to follow in California. I may, or may not, know what the rules and laws of other states, and will freely speak to that whenever I address a question. (If I KNOW the law in your state, I will tell you. If not, I'll tell you that, too.) As a member of a national professional chefs association, I have access to the practical experience and knowledge of my peer personal chefs from all over the country. So, often times I can ask them to share with me the challenges they deal with, and what their rules and laws may be.

Hope this helps.
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Unread 03-31-2009, 06:28 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBQchef33 View Post
You're right, and I know that.

This guy has worked with sharon for years and she thinks feels hes on the up & up.. Talking to him, and expaining my liabilities, he said just come and show me what to do.

The plan would be to pull my trailer right into his yard, unload the cooker, put on the show.

I usually turn these things down just for the reasons u mentioned. Think I'm going to look into the BoH stuff for 'personal chef' type things.
Phil, screw the personal chef stuff. Write up an equipment rental agreement, and make sure that you get a written invitation to the party, addressed to you, so that you are officially there as a guest. Your equipment, your advice, his work, your peace of mind.

I would run this by a lawyer though ... if you happen to know one!
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Unread 03-31-2009, 06:38 AM   #20
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as much as i hate to say this i agree with ray the last 150 person cook i did i got $2300 for it you have your time involed... plus all the time you took to lern to do it! you have prep rub cutting triming pullin. dont scimp on your price... not to mention thay always say one thing and crap comes up and it becomes another!
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Unread 03-31-2009, 08:37 AM   #21
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Aren't there any friends of yours in the area that have catering insurance and a company and you can do it under their name??? Just to cover your arse.
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Unread 03-31-2009, 10:34 AM   #22
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As usual, the headache and liability involved has me second guessing.

Strikeagle, great info.. thank you. It opens ones eyes to the details.. Even with any precautions and promises of 'informal'.... when that one guest gets a belly ache and blames the "pink, undercooked pork" (that was cooked for 16 hours and was 200*), its all said and done with and I'm the one on the hook.

Im going to look into the Personal Chef insurance. The certified kitchen is not a problem, i have access to several of those and I was planning on having my trailer certified. (all it needs is a hand sink).

thanks for the ideas.. wow, sure am glad I found this place.. :)
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Unread 03-31-2009, 10:46 AM   #23
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Call Steve Raab from Fat Angel, he is an insurance broker and sells me my insurance for catering - 1-646-823-3247.
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Unread 03-31-2009, 11:11 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBQchef33 View Post

thanks for the ideas.. wow, sure am glad I found this place.. :)

Now that's some funny chit!



Good info from Strike Eagle.

The HD strangles so many good things before they even get out of the gate, it's
a wonder anyone ever gets a food service business off the ground.

One thing I found out about working with the HD and getting Serv Safe certified is
that food safety is about 5% of the subject matter........the other 95% is nothing more than liability issues.
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Unread 03-31-2009, 11:25 AM   #25
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I hate to say this but Dive had me get a million doller rider on my inshurance and i am starting the corp pappers this week... i am not going to lose everthink i oun for someones party.... and i know well hes a friend of mine. Big deal his friends art your friends and thay will sue you { i know i cant spell sue right sorry }
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Unread 03-31-2009, 06:48 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Divemaster View Post
I think 8 hours is still to short... You've got loading, transporting, cooking, and then cleaning...

I'm assuming that you would need to at least partially cook the bigger cuts... That too adds time (and costs)


I agree with Ray to a point (I'm thinking two days to your three). I do agree that you don't want them to get the meat... You could end up with chuck roasts & pork loins when you ask for Brisket & Butts...


BD, hit the nail on the head.... Figure out what you should charge and then work backwords based on friendship....
I suggested 8 hrs as the minimum, I expect he would charge for as many hours as he works
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Unread 03-31-2009, 08:46 PM   #27
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Phil there may be a one day thingy you can get from the health department. I have only cooked for friends as a guest of their party. Getting certified up here, on water wells is very very expensive. Scott
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Unread 03-31-2009, 10:09 PM   #28
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Go , do the show and have a good time.
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Unread 04-01-2009, 08:00 AM   #29
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Quote:
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I think 8 hours is still to short... You've got loading, transporting, cooking, and then cleaning...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASUBBQ View Post
I suggested 8 hrs as the minimum, I expect he would charge for as many hours as he works
I understand that, but based on the conversation at the time he was using a flat rate...

A number of my customers want a flat rate... How much, I'll write you a check kind of thing... There are others that want to go hourly plus expenses... For them I do more of a Time and Materials not to exceed thing...
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Unread 04-01-2009, 04:57 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Divemaster View Post
....
A number of my customers want a flat rate... How much, I'll write you a check kind of thing... There are others that want to go hourly plus expenses... For them I do more of a Time and Materials not to exceed thing...
IME most clients want flat rate, or at least a firm estimate of what an event is going to cost. "Time and materials" billing does not give that sort of firm estimate.

I use a "fee plus" formula for billing. I give the client a firm cost for my services, and a "not to exceed" estimate on the cost of food. With 'Fee Plus' the client knows exactly how much they are paying for my services. They retain the freedom to choose the quality of menu that fits their tastes and needs. And, they can choose to upgrade the menu quality without worry about me skimping on quality in other areas to fit a preset budget. Many clients ASSUME that a 'catering service' will use a certain quality of ingredient. (Most people falsely seem to presume that a catered affair will use average quality ingredients, but not the best available.) Yet, that same client may want to ensure use a certain grade of food for their event. "Fee Plus" lets that happen without any concern that there's some sort of overpayment going on since the client gets the actual grocery bill, so they KNOW how much that Prime Beef REALLY cost.

Some Personal Chefs use an all inclusive formula for their pricing, but I don't like that method. Here's why I don't. With fixed pricing, I'm stuck with the original estimate. If there is a market shift in actual food costs, I have to find a way to adjust my costs elsewhere to keep within budget, or I end up eating the additional cost. (Often, I book events MONTHS in advance, so fluctuating ingredient prices can bite me in this way.) IMHO this is not fair to the client or to me. I would much rather my client be assured of the quality they are getting, without concern that I'm cutting corners on food quality just to stay in budget.

One last note on the two billing systems. Fee Plus service is just that; a SERVICE. And, is treated as such by the tax laws in most states. As a service company, in CA, I do NOT have to charge sales tax on the price of my service to the client. They ONLY pay tax on the grocery items that would normally be taxable in my state. The same can NOT be said for the all inclusive billing option. Since there is no way to separate out the service cost vs. the cost of food and materials, legally tax must be charged for the ENTIRE FEE billed in an all inclusive system. In my county of CA, that would cost the client an additional $200-$300 for the event we've been discussing in this thread, and no one gets any benefit from those additional dollars paid.

My goal is it give my prospects and clients the best service and food available at the best dollar value possible. For me, accurate estimates and billing clarity are, in fact, part of providing the highest quality service available.
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