The Caterers Corner
Leftover Policies Caterers Corner: Leftover Policies
By Matt (Matt) on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 08:36 pm: Edit

Just wanted to know how some of you deal with leftovers? Basically we tell people that our insurance doesn't allow us to give leftovers to the client because of health issues as does our health department. Well lately that seems to be upsetting some of our clients and tonight I was reading one of those ridiculous, "Things to ask your caterer" on one of these online wedding sites that said the client should get the leftovers. Well I thought maybe this would be a good topic to start a new thread on. Looking forward to hearing how others handle this.


By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 11:44 pm: Edit

Yes, they also suggest that you should have a dummy cake and have sheetcakes somewhere in the back. It's cheaper.
It cost more with me.
Hard call. The norm here is not to give anything to the clients, as per health dept. Ya know, Temps. Again its the CYA thing. It may be best to inform clients up front.
We tell customers not to keep a cake top for a year. We make them an anniversary cake for free with a trade for pictures of the cakes. This works well for us. Its crazy to think liability all the time! Good topic.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Friday, July 13, 2001 - 12:28 am: Edit

You have to create a "hold harmless" document which basically says that if they take the food home they will hold you harmless if there is any food related incident due to improper transporting, lack of temperature control...yatiyatiyati...etc.
Whatever you and an attorney figure should go in.
Each client has to sign that, and you if they take food home.

By George (George) on Friday, July 13, 2001 - 08:54 am: Edit

Maybe everyone should send the editor of the site and e-mail telling them they are giving out dangerous recommendations.

What's the url for teh site/sites?

By fodigger on Friday, July 13, 2001 - 02:18 pm: Edit

I don't allow it. I make sure the customer is aware that this is the policy. In fact, we have they initial they they have read and understood this.
As a regular policy we prepare approx. 5% more food than needed, even with the policy a brides mom tried to get the food to go. When I stated this wasn't possible she rose a stink, I then presented her w/ a bill for the additional 5% to the tune of about $400.00 that shut her up quickly and she left w/ my policy in tact.

By junior on Friday, July 13, 2001 - 02:45 pm: Edit

bravo,fodigger,clever chap,you are!

By CaterGreat on Saturday, July 14, 2001 - 01:42 pm: Edit

Hmmm, this has always been a tough one. I have it in my contract that we prepare more than enough food to adequately serve their guests. Therefore all back up foods are the property of Premier. Foods that have not been pushed to the limits in holding times may be purchased at a discount.

Basically what we explain is although you guaranteed 200, we were prepared for 225, if they want that extra food, they may purchase it at half price (25 guests x .50) Not any takers....

The quandry is when they guarantee 200 and only 150 show... As nice guys, we prepare a nice tray of "leftovers". They do have to sign a waiver and idemnity agreement. I do not give them any foods which might be hazardous.

By CaterGreat on Saturday, July 14, 2001 - 01:54 pm: Edit

Here is a true story:

We did a wedding reception for 150, heavy hors. There were 150 guests, heavy eaters. This was in my earlier years, so we had quite a bit of back up in the staging room of the facility we were using....

At the end, the guests were asking for foil and they were filling up plastic cups and everything they could find. Two huge bridesmaids were fighting over the fruit when I walked in, they broke a crystal fruit basket while tugging playfully....

I slammed my hand on the table while the all the vultures were in their frenzy and aid. "EVERYONE STOP WHERE YOU ARE!!! NOW, we were contracted by the bride to feel 150 guests, we have done that. Everyone who has food they wish to take home may line up right over here at this table and I will charge you for what you wish to take... oh, no one wants to pay for it? Ok, here is another deal for you... any of you who would like ALL the leftover food, write me a check for 500.00 and I will personally deliver it to your home in an hour?" "What? No takers? Ok, then lay your food on the table and go home, this party is over."

One lady said, "well, what are you going to do with the food?" I said, "I don't know, I may eat it, throw it away, give it away, or take it to the soup kitchen, I haven't decided, but I paid for this food, the bride paid for what you have eaten, and it shouldnt matter to you what I do with MY food."

Yep, I was piss&d!

By fodigger on Monday, July 16, 2001 - 04:19 am: Edit

Great story Carl

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, July 16, 2001 - 08:23 am: Edit

Hey Carl,
Maybe you could laminate food labels and prices. When the function ends, place your signs like "Hors d'oeuvres $ 2.25 ea." "Fresh Fruit $2.50 a cup" " Floral Centerpiece $ 225.00" " 8 Foot Table $ 125.00" " Skirting $ 175.00"
What a Hoot!

By catergreat on Monday, July 16, 2001 - 06:03 pm: Edit

Pan, that is Great... I am laughing my a$$ off... Isn't that the truth? Especially with some clients, they think it is a free for all...

When we did the "Taste of Jackson" in March at the local civic center, we had similar problems... There were about 50 food vendors giving away bite size portions of their specialties... The March of Dimes sold tickets, we got free space to give away food...

At the end, as vendors are cleaning up, here come the vultures... grabbing everything not tied down and untying things that were... They were camped out next to my booth, sitting in chairs, just eyeing all my wares... We had bottles of unopened wine, grapes, strawberries, ferns, material for decor and some food left. I would walk a few feet away like I was leaving and they would get up head toward my booth and I would turn around and walk back.. I did this about 8 times... it was hilarious... Finally, I did get distracted as my staff were taking loads to the van and I turned around to find 15 people tearing apart my booth and grabbing at wine, putting strawberries in bags, taking off my ferns, one had my 300.00 center piece in hand, stuffing bottles of wine in shopping bags, etc... I got right behind them and shouting loudly "HEY!!!!!" (i enjoy doing that) I thought one lady was going to have a heart attack, they all flinched in sync... I was trying to keep a straight face, but was so tickled at their faces and their reaction ( I am a pretty big fellow )

I said, "what do you think you are doing?" they said, "the man, he said we could have the leftovers"

I said, "well, I am the man and you can't have jack$***, now get the f*** away from my booth!"

I was grabbing shopping bags out of their hands, bottles, tablewares, vases, etc and the director of the event walked over to me and asked me what the problem was, I said "the problem is your lousy security... get these damn vultures out of here or I am going to gut them like a pig" (as I picked up a huge butcher knife) He told me to calm down, I said, "oh, I am calm, you should see me when I am p&ssed," I told him he could forget about me being there next year. Needless to say, the vultures quickly moved to the exits, grumbling the whole way.

I was so mad, I even told a police officer to either get these people out of here or HE needed to go home, he said, "watch your mouth" I said, "do your damn job or go home!"

By Matt (Matt) on Wednesday, July 18, 2001 - 01:06 am: Edit

To Jeff and Carl thanks for the laughs. I'm still tearing up with laughter. And thanks to everyone. I got some great ideas from all of you and we will definitely be making some contract changes and also in the way we deal with people regarding the issue.
George I have to check the web address again but I have come across a few sites that tell customers this. I will post them when I get them. Can you believe I came across that chef mikes site today, (he's the one with the how to cater your own wedding book) what a joke, he tells people that the average price range from caterers is $9-15 per person. No wonder why people don't want to pay us. Geesh. Sorry for going off-topic, I had to vent.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, July 18, 2001 - 10:18 pm: Edit

I just had to add this,
Driver came in today and explained that one of our silver cake bases was not at one of the contracts.Called the banquet dept.. Hadn't seen it chef! Threatened the housemen! Put it off till later.
I get a call this afternoon, Hi, this is Patty in security, remember, you did my wedding cake in April. Listen, I saw some big cake boxes go out with the brides family Saturday night. Just wanted to let you know because I know you don't charge deposits for cakes here, I didn't want you to lose the wood boards and plates. I thanked her.
Put 2 & 2 together and gave the family a call to see if they had seen what had happened to the silver stand when they took the leftover cake with them, which they were'nt supposed to do,there was a moment of silence. " You mean that did not come with the cake?" I thought about Carl and decided not to get loud, I responded with, sure you can purchase it if you like, I will just pull your credit card and post it, ok?. Well, well,well, how much is it? I said I purchased it at auction for $1700. but I would sell it for $1500. Let's see, your reception was Saturday? The rental is $ 100. per day if you need it for the weekend or something.
They delivered it to my home so I could inspect it. Do we owe anything? I said yes $ 25.00 for being silly.
I will send a 25.00 gift certificate to Patty tomorrow.
I know it's long, Sorry

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Thursday, July 19, 2001 - 04:59 pm: Edit

I had an interesting leftovers situation a few years back. Except that they weren't my leftovers.
The Chamber of Commerce was holding an "Art and Entertainment Walk" about 5 years ago October. Members signed up to participate and provide menu samples. The Chamber provided helpers, the art, the entertainment, and booze. They provided us with kegs of Redhook ESB. The weather was terrible. It started snowing early in the evening. Instead of thousands of people, hundreds showed. The exhibits were closed at 10:00 pm, but it was only my business neighbors and the helpers by 9:00. The beer was barely touched. Ten of us, most of a keg of beer, conversation. We stood around the restaurant and talked and drank for hours. We all started getting a little blitzed. It just seemed such a waste to dump all this yummy beer. So we started filling up styrofoam cups with lids, water pitchers, anything that would seal, and sending people off with beer. Must have been something to get into the back of a cab carrying a milkcrate full of tiny styrofoam cups. OK, so we were really blitzed. We cabbed home around 3am. The next morning I woke up to find I'd made it home with 9 pitchers of warm beer, sitting on my coffee table.

By Mbw (Mbw) on Friday, July 20, 2001 - 12:02 pm: Edit

Hold harmless? The last time I saw a hold harmless I was in Los Angeles. It was a Barbecue for 300 people and the guests were piling food on their plates and storing it in their hot cars.

Typically I give the clients what they want and a little more. If they seem clueless I do make them sign a waiver, but more often than not a stern warning does fine. This all depends on how they behave of course, if they are jerks I would rather throw it away. Safer that way.


By Claudia (Claudia) on Thursday, July 26, 2001 - 03:20 pm: Edit

If the client pays a per person charge for a meal, then we make enough food for that many people (of course with some generosity.) If I like the client, I might leave a small plate for them, but otherwise, I split what's left with my waitstaff. I once did a formal sit down dinner at someone's home with roast lamb, plated. They asked for seconds, so we took around a platter to the guests. There was an end slab on the side of the platter that we decorated with greens to pass around the few extra slices we had; it was mostly gristle, turned around. The next day the client called and said they wanted to have lunch, where was the extra lamb? I said, you paid for dinner, not dinner AND lunch! and I HAD already left them some delicious spinach-chevre tart!

By Matt (Matt) on Saturday, July 28, 2001 - 09:19 pm: Edit

Here is one of the sites! I have a list of more somewhere else.

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