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Missy, I've had very few catering jobs lately, and I've just taught my 6th class ever,

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Joined: Dec 14, 2005


Posted to Thread #14202 at 12:38 am on Mar 23, 2009

but let me advise you anyway, LOL.

You might try donating or bartering services just for the experience. For instance, my first catering experience was for my friend who created a logo and business cards for me. I did a small dinner party in return, and I learned a lot because even though I had helped cook many meals there I insisted that he let me do everything this time--the prep, cooking, and cleaning--so I had a chance to run through the drill. he kept trying to make me sit down and join the party but I wanted to treat it like a job.

I've also had good luck in the past donating a dinner for 6 as an auction item for fundraisers. NOT a raffle item--don't make that mistake. In a silent auction only people who are interested will bid. I have a nice certificate that I print on heavy parchment that gives a choice of four menus. One of my best customers lost a bidding war at a charity event for one of those. She copied my number instead and just hired me. (This was a few years ago when the economy was very different.)

Usually when these certificates are redeemed they add a few people, and/or tip well, so the food costs are covered.

I think next time I donate something it will be a cooking class.

For the classes, I would love to do one in someone's home but it hasn't happened. If your home kitchen can accomodate a class that would be a great place to start. At the cooking store where I've started teaching, couples or individuals can sign up and it's not as big a commitment as getting a whole group together in their home.

Here is a link to the class schedule so you can see how cheap I'm working, lol:

The dinner classes are doing well but so far none of the lunch classes have been a go.

I provide all the food and wine (the wine is killing me, especially when my friends enroll) and pay a 15% commission to the store. If the class is full I do OK, but if as few as four people sign up I'm still committed to it, because I want to try to build a clientelle and later raise the prices to cover all that wine. Also, the store's kitchen is very well equipped with top notch stuff so I don't have to haul my sad pots and utensils around.

It's a great value because for the price of a restaurant meal, people get a more relaxed setting, good food, a demonstration, and recipes.

Catering pays better, though the jobs are fewer and farrer between. I charge a similar price per person to those class menus, basically what someone would pay in a restaurant, I also charge a flat base rate of $200 for each event, to bring the restaurant to them. That base fee is the same for 2 people or 100--it equalizes the small and large jobs and guarantees that I make at least something.

I hope that's helpful. I can only say, just charge in, get some experience, concentrate on making the customers happy, even if they're freebies, and we'll all get through this slump somehow.

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