Client wants a TASTING! Cooking For You: Client wants a TASTING!
By Renee (Renee) on Sunday, March 12, 2000 - 07:49 pm: Edit

Hello again all you wonderful and knowledgeable chefs! I ran into a little dilema over the weekend and I was wondering if you would help me out as you've so graciously done in the past.A potential client has asked me if I could provide him with a "tasting" before he hires me for a black tie dinner party. What does this entail on my end?Do you charge a small fee for a tasting or is this a free service to the "potential"client.Do they choose a meal from your menu?Anyone who has had this experience please post or email.Thanks again!! Renee

By W.DeBord on Monday, March 13, 2000 - 12:14 am: Edit

1. Most people don't charge for tastings. You absorb the effort.

2. Some people can be quite difficult, wanting to change small things like the brand of pasta used. Some come for multiple tastings.

3. They shouldn't ask for a tasting with-out knowing what they want. I'd guess they read or heard they should do this and are now seeing if they really can. You need to limit how many items their tasting they can't try everything you make?

I can tell you alot of reasons why this is not a good road to go down but if you must because it's a party you can't pass up then know these questions about your client...

1. Where did they find you (a reference)or phone book?
2.Is there party worth jumping through their hoops(know some details, ie. are you even available for that date)?
3. Ask them who they are comparing you with?
4. Are they serious about using you?

By W.DeBord on Monday, March 13, 2000 - 12:39 am: Edit

I'm sorry I don't mean to be so negative, I just think tastings have gotten out of hand. At some point they have to trust you. They didn't find you in a phone book and now want you to cater their important event. They have eaten your food before somewhere. Then they asked every person they know and trust "Who is the best?" and they called you.

I think it's smarter to say "I'm sorry we don't do that." and never go down that road. But if your going to do it, do it on your terms.

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, March 13, 2000 - 07:00 pm: Edit

I'm throwing a black tie event for 100 of my closest friends.I'm spending 100. a head, I don't know the caterer. YES I WANT A TASTING!I don't have to taste what I'm ordering but something to show me the quality and presentation of the caterers work.
If after that, I like what I've seen, I request to taste all of the items that will be served that night. In this neck of the woods, there is a charge for the number of people at the final tasting to be washed out in the final billing.

By chefcolleen on Monday, March 13, 2000 - 08:23 pm: Edit

I would have a list of references for other special parties you have done.

By W.DeBord on Monday, March 13, 2000 - 08:47 pm: Edit

I don't know what area you live in Renee. I live in the Chicago area and work for country club who doesn't charge for tastings. It's not charged to people who are non members having parties at the club either. I believe Panini is in the New Orleans area. So maybe charging or not charging depends on your area?

If you think about it references are the true proof of your quality. When you are serving 200 dinners vs. 2 at a tasting is how the food will really taste that evening. How it all went (smoothly or poorly)is just as important as the flavor of each course. I would stress that to a client when I gave them a list of references.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Tuesday, March 14, 2000 - 03:10 pm: Edit

We usually never do a tasting until the party is booked and there is a deposit. One time last year we did do one with out a booking for a group we were trying to woo. We when all out four kinds of Salads, Four different entrees four of my best plated desserts. We ended up doing two because the committee could not agree on anything. Finally they went back to the place they had been for years.

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, March 14, 2000 - 05:08 pm: Edit

I'm sorry, I took for granted that Renee worked independantly. I agree with W.DeBord tastings can get out of hand. I realize that if you are a hotel or country club that has a good reputation that the need for tastings goes down. Nobody wants to waste food. The charge I was talking about comes when there is no deposit on the function. The charge is usually washed away with the deposit.
I'm a board member for a local charity here and overheard one3 for the other members raving about this caterer she used for a birthday party. I've stopped working with this caterer for she cooks out of her home and uses the cheapest frozen premade foods available. Her prices are extravagant. Word of mouth referals are not always the best. New Orleans?

By Renee (Renee) on Tuesday, March 14, 2000 - 07:07 pm: Edit

Hey all you flavorful foodies-thanks for all your tips and advice, it is all well taken and appreciated.Its difficult starting out and not being able to connect with people,but thanks to you it has made things alot easier for me.This party is for a very affluent family in the area and I would very much like to do the party but at what expense?I will have to decide with all the knowledge I have.Another question I have is insurance.I would like to know who,if anyone insures you?I cant seem to get personal business insurance.Do you fall under caterer or PC?Let me know if you will.Thanks again guys-Renee

By Peter Brogger on Wednesday, March 15, 2000 - 08:32 am: Edit

this question of free tastings sure hit the mark with me. We have been doing free tastings for years and at first it doubled our gross and then lately the ratio of tasters to buyers has dropped some, but it still seems to be the best way to showcase your food etc to new clients.

By Peter Brogger on Wednesday, March 15, 2000 - 08:41 am: Edit

this question of free tastings sure hit the mark with me. We have been doing free tastings for years and at first it doubled our gross and then lately the ratio of tasters to buyers has dropped some, but it still seems to be the best way to showcase your food etc to new clients.

By drcook on Friday, May 25, 2001 - 01:27 am: Edit

I've been in the catering bus for 11+ years, and cooking for ~20. Here's how I handle tastings.
First I get the client to agree on a menu for the event, and the appropriate price per person. If they request a tasting I charge them the menu price for the event. (I usually encourage 4-6 participants for the tasting). If they book the party, the $ paid for the tasting are applied to the event. If they don't book, then they have had a great meal at a fair price, and my staff & I haven't worked for free. I have never had a client complain that this is an unfair way of doing business, and I have always booked the affair.

G Hersch. Dr Cook's Gourmet Galley, LA, CA

By Panini (Panini) on Friday, May 25, 2001 - 03:47 am: Edit

That's fair and square. I'd do that. I'm one of those people who don't like surprizes. If I book a function I like to have a handle on everything, especially the food.

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