I just finished putting a quote together for a man who wants to have a wine tasting dinner for five. The event is during the Wine Auction Week in Napa Valley in the beginning of June. It’s a best of everything seven course meal, paired with great wines. The total cost for this dinner, not including the wine will turn out to be about $600.00 per person, and this is not even marking the food up. This is based simply on cost of food, labor and a small rental order.
People call me all the time wanting me to cook in their homes.
They expect the best and they deserve the best, but what these prospective clients often do not understand is that it turns out to be much more expensive to hire in an incredible meal than it does to dine at some place like The French Laundry.
For all intents and purposes, I am being asked to set up a small restaurant in your house for one evening. This requires hiring staff, rentals, flowers etc; it all adds up faster than you can blink an eye. I try to be fair; my hourly rate is less than that of a carpenter, for the most part.
When clients want a great meal at world class level, even the food costs can be astronomical. A bottle of great vinegar or estate olive oil alone can cost upwards of fifty bucks. The wine these guys are going to drink will average at about $100.00 a bottle and up.
I’m not complaining, I love what I do and I am honored when people ask me to cook for them. It’s just that even I get flabbergasted at how much an experience like this can cost. I wish I could afford myself.
I do think though, that the prospective client does need to be educated about the cost of catering. I constantly run into issues with this and I often have had to make the decision to turn down a client, rather than low balling myself in order to make them happy. Catering is quite possibly the toughest area of the food industry and people need to understand that it requires a considerable amount of logistics, schlepping and plain old hard work to get the job done.