Food and Cakes

What should I pay someone to prepare our food?

We recently decided to purchase our own food for our wedding and found a lady in our town that would help cater. Basically we are buying the food, turkey and dressing, pulled pork, pasta salad, and party potatoes, and she is going to prepare it and watch over it the day of the wedding. She asked me to decide on a price to pay her and I want to come up with a reasonable amount. Without food included in this amount I'm just not sure what a fair amount would be.

Any suggestions???


Re: What should I pay someone to prepare our food?

  • How many is she cooking for?  She is cooking everything from scratch, correct?  Need to know if she is cooking for 20 ot 200.  Does she have any experience doing this?
  • Before you get to price you need to ask a few other questiosn.  Does she have the proper equipment to keep everything hot or cold? Has she done this before and does she have proper insurance to cover her if anyone gets sick as a result of her cooking?
    Proud to be an old married hag!! image
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chefs and head cooks in Des Moines make about $20/hour. I'd pay her at least $40/hour because there's no taxes, no benefits, no worker's comp, no anything normal employees get. I don't know how long she'll be working. I read catering companies usually arrive at venues 2-3 hours before receptions start.

    Link to statistics:
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I would pay her $30+ per hour.

    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • We have a guest list of 200 so it would be somewhere around 150-200. the turkey and dressing and pork will be precooked and frozen, so it will be a simple catering gig. she caters for a womens club in town every week and has all the equipment. 
  • RebeccaB88RebeccaB88 Figment of Your Imagination member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    Are you planning on serving other side dishes than that?  It doesn't seem like enough food or variety.  No vegetables? Bread?  (I'm going to assume you'll get a cake from a bakery.)  I would suggest having some cold vegetable salads and maybe a green salad, or hearty relish trays alongside.  Things that can be prepared the day before and kept cold, or even bought at the grocery store premade.  Bread or rolls are easy to wrap in foil and warm in the oven.  Also check your guest list for vegetarians/vegans and make sure there's something they can eat too. 

  • We are doing the same thing and this is how we figured it.....

    -Caterers in our area charge between $15 and $30 per head for buffet service.
    -They like to keep their food cost around 35%
    -So, we mutually decided on $15 per person with a 35% discount for food provided. 

    We didn't like the amount per hour for a chef option because the caterer supplies all the equipment, uses their own kitchen and transports all the food. Also, if something goes wrong like: cold food, something being prepared incorrectly, etc. how are they equipped to handle it so that your big day isn't interrupted.  That does get us a whole team not just one person...  

    Will she be able to keep up with the demands of your time schedule and cooking for 200 guests?  Think of how long Thanksgiving dinner takes to prepare for just your family...
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