The Great Hall
Wholesale food? The Great Hall: Wholesale food?
By Chefmel (Chefmel) on Monday, August 14, 2000 - 09:43 am: Edit

I am a chef who is just staring a catering business. I am trying to find info about buying foods wholesale or at a discount. Also I would appreciate any advice on starting my business. I have the experience in catering and a associates degree from the CIA but I don't have any business background or selling background. I'm also interested in info about costing an event. When costing do I charge cost per person+ tax+ gratuity. The cost perperson is the cost of food,labor,and equipment right??

By Charles on Monday, August 14, 2000 - 01:42 pm: Edit

>"a associates degree from the CIA"

>When costing do I charge cost per person+ tax+ >gratuity. The cost perperson is the cost of >food,labor,and equipment right??

CIA... Hmmmm Must not be the CIA I am familiar with.

Cost of raw ingredients plus some factor for the misc items like crackers, ketchup or whatever and divide it by your desired food cost and you will have the figure you need to charge. Now add on tax and gratuity. Special one time use equipment may need to be charged for but not typically.


Charles Rivers

By RDB on Monday, August 14, 2000 - 07:17 pm: Edit

I mean no disrespect,but from your post you don't seem to have much knowlege about the bussiness.Go back to your text books,they have most of the information you are looking for.look in the CIA text"The New Professional Chef" and read the section THE CHEF AS A BUSSINESS PERSON, another is PURCHASING,SELECTION and PROCUREMENT for the HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY by John M.Stefanelli,pricing & procedures are also covered in FOOD FOR FIFTY by Grace Shugart & Mary Molt,then there is THE COMPLETE OFF-PREMISE CATERER by Judy Serra Lieberman. Talk to your local Resturant assocation,Chefs Assocation,and Chamber of Commerce. Hope this has been of some help.

By Dpconsu (Dpconsu) on Monday, August 14, 2000 - 07:30 pm: Edit

Hire a consultant

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Tuesday, August 15, 2000 - 07:03 am: Edit

Chefmel - I'm glad to hear you are doing the research you need to do to get started. You've got to have a good understanding of the business before jumping in.

You say you have the experience in catering...but it doesn't sound like you have the experience in the business side of catering. You could hire a consultant, and pay big bucks, but you don't want to rely on someone else for the most basic knowledge of the business, do you? Why not go out, get a job in the business office of a caterer, and get paid while you learn? It might take more time, but you'll gain a more complete understanding.

If you're hot on getting started right away, do as RDB suggests - it's good advice.

By Dpconsu (Dpconsu) on Tuesday, August 15, 2000 - 07:57 am: Edit

Dear ChefMel,
Allthough I am a consultant, this is not a pitch to get work from you. It is only some free advice as to why the hiring of a consultant would benifit you in the long and short term:
In fact you should use a locally based person to assist you with your business for the ease of communication and to relay the localities particular problems or benifits.
The reason to hire a consultant is to help you toensure that your proposed business is located well and that you have enough target clientel to ensure a steady business, help in planning your available space floor plans to be as effective as possible, and to possibly do an area market survey to gauge the type of cuisine that will sell effectivly there.A consultant will assist you in the developement of a system to keep track of your orders, taxes, staffing and purveyences that are simple to impliment. In short, the effective use of a consultant will save you money in both the short term start up costs and the long term operational costs to run your business successfully. He/she can help you develope menus and consistancy orintated recipe books for your company, (after all you cannot be there all the time and will have to rely on some staff members to duplicate your recipes to achieve that desired level of consistancy, he/she can assist you in buying only the equipment that you actually need, instead of the salesman who works on a commision and is dedicated to selling you as much as possible. Help in securing a reliable contractor for your re-novation or construction needs. Assistance with a marketing strategy to sell your product.

I hope that this helps you to getting up and running with out running into the many pitfalls of starting and running a catering or food service business, ( I know as I operated a catering company successfully in Monaco for five years)I got sick of 18 hour days 7 days a week and eventually sold the business at a good profit and moved on to consulting internationaly.

Owning your own catering business is far more demanding on your personnal life than working as a salaried chef for someone else, the hours are longer, the stress is greater, the problems that will develope are "ALL YOURS" to solve.

I want to re-enfasize that brain-storming and potential problem identification prior to starting out will save you time and money down the road.

Good luck on yuor project, I wish you every success.

Mike (dpconsu)

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, August 15, 2000 - 08:40 am: Edit

O.K., you do not sound ready to cater large events yet, but hiring a consultant isn't going to make you instantly ready either.

Chefmel caterering is a HARD way to try to make a living as a chef! Today there are several books directly on caterering....STUDY, then learn somemore! Take night classes learning accounting etc...

We billed the waitress/event employee wages to the customer. So all we were doing is refering a person to them and they were the employer not us. By doing that we were not responsible for collecting taxes etc... and handing out W2 forms at the end of the year. Cutting back our work and exposure to the goverment.

To cut our costs we bought what ever meat and groceries we could from the local wholesale club (Sams Club). We'd picked-up all of our orders from wholesale companies to save on delivery charges. That was really dumb, we didn't treat our time as valueable!

By Girlchef (Girlchef) on Wednesday, August 16, 2000 - 10:20 am: Edit

Let's not forget that experience is the best of all teachers. Chefmel, before you launch your catering business, why not hire on with an experienced caterer for 6 months. What you will learn, money can't buy, including the $$$ someone spent to send you to the CIA.

Best of luck to you.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, August 16, 2000 - 06:08 pm: Edit

Reading your post I see you have experience and that your already doing catering. Buying and selling are very important. Your doing the right thing by asking questions. Take advantage of Mike and ask more ?'s of him and everybody. Collect this and all unsolicited information and sort it out. Keep the good and store the NA. You will encounter a negetive undertone but don't let it sway you. This happens when people have "been there, done that" , they are trying to protect you from making some of the mistakes they may have made.
Good luck to you,
ps. I have some experience on the business end if you have ?'s.

By W.DeBord on Thursday, August 17, 2000 - 08:55 am: Edit

Panini is right on the money...just trying to protect you.

If I had known how to do it better I would have....but at that time I didn't. Looking back I can tell you some of the mistakes we made that lead to our failure (so you don't do the same)if you like?

Learn when to pay for someone else to do the job because it takes away from your ability to do your job well. That begins the first day when you work too many hours leaving yourself overly tired for the next day. You have to know when you can save a dollar and when it will cost you many by trying to save that first one.

Another big mistake we made was letting our-selfs get so busy that we couldn't take the time to re-think and reorganize a business that changed because our clients changed. The business controlled us and it had no plan, it was like riding a mad bull.

If I had it to do over, I would come here and ask alot of specific questions.

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