Transcript is autogenerated and may contain typos, errors, omissions etc.

[00:00:00] If you’ve been around here for any amount of time and watched any of my videos, you know that I don’t believe that you need to have contracts if you’re doing regular personal chef services, also known as meal prep services. But if you are doing small catering events like dinner parties and things like that, that is an entirely different bag of mixed nuts.

Hey there, Chef Shelly here. I’ve had a successful personal chef business for over 15 years, and when I’m not cooking for my clients I’m helping passionate cooks Just like you start your own personal chef business because you can absolutely get paid to do what you love cook on your own terms Without culinary school killing yourself in someone else’s restaurant or sacrificing all your family time nights and weekends So when it comes to catering events, even when you’re doing a small dinner for two, romantic dinner for two, a seated dinner party for eight, a [00:01:00] small buffet style event that you’re doing in your cooking business, I do recommend that you have a contract because the client is so involved and it’s a one off event.

You really need to have a written agreement. So that there’s no confusion, no communication mistakes, and no misunderstandings. So here are some of the basic things that you should have in your catering agreement. First, just the basic event information. You need to have the date. The day, the time, the location, the address, and any specific instructions that might involve getting access, what time you need to be there, is the event time different than your setup time and the breakdown time, all the things like that.

Speaking of your extra time besides just the event. Next, you need to have your [00:02:00] services that you are going to provide. Clearly outline what you are going to do, such as, um, developing the menu that should be approved by the client. What serving style it’s going to be, buffet, plated, past hors d’oeuvres.

Who’s going to handle the beverages? Will that be the client or will that be you? All the different things. Are you setting up? Are they setting up? All the things like that, so they know when you’re going to be there, what you’re going to do, and when you’re going to leave. Third, cost and payment terms.

This might seem like a basic, but you need to specify the total exact cost of your services, including sales tax, service charges, An optional gratuity, if you include that, you need to outline a payment schedule. Do they need to make a deposit? How much does it [00:03:00] need to be? When does their, when is their final payment due?

And of course. accepted payment methods. If you’re going to take a check, you want to make darn sure they’re getting you that last one well before the event so you can make sure it clears. Number four, menu details. Provide a detailed description of the menu items. That could be everything from Appetizers, main courses, desserts.

Again, who’s handling the beverages? You need to handle quantities. That can be maybe the number of people there, maybe how many servings you’re doing. If they, you’re doing a seated dinner and you have eight, that’s very obviously eight servings. If they show up with an extra person or people and you have to start cutting servings down to serve multiple people and then they’re annoyed there wasn’t enough food.

Dude, people be crazy. You’d be surprised. I have heard it all and I’ve [00:04:00] experienced most of it too. You even want to have details about the presentation style of the menu and any substitutions that might need to be made, any upgrades they want. From the initial presentation or the initial proposal you gave them, what is the final final?

Number five, staffing and equipment. Outline how many people are going to be there. If you are going to have someone helping you that you are charging them extra for, put down that there will be a server. And what the cost on that is if you’re breaking out your proposal like that, you need to specify their roles.

Don’t. Get their roles, not the roles. You need to be sure that if you are bringing someone who’s there to like help you set up, serve and do dishes, that the client doesn’t think that they can ask them to come pour drinks for people, right? If they need a [00:05:00] bartender, that is something separate and you should discuss those kinds of things if they tell you that they’re going to be having a bar.

Okay. If they want to have the personal chef experience, do you need to specify what you’re going to wear, what the staff is going to wear? Nobody wants to pay premium pricing to have a personal chef come to their home and then to have the person that’s assisting them come in jorts and a sleeveless tank top.

Right? So be very clear, the more you sell to how professional. Everything you’re doing is going to be the more premium and experience they are going to know that they’re having. Sometimes they don’t even realize it if you don’t spell this stuff out. So again, make sure it’s known who’s providing the equipment.

If they’re going to have a dinner for 12, do they have a table that will seat 12 people? Do they need an extra table? Are they providing that extra table? [00:06:00] Chairs, linens, dinnerware. Are they expecting, um, do they have dinnerware for 12? Do they have enough plates for 12 people? And appetizer plates, salad plates, soup plate, entree plate, dessert plate, if that’s what their menu is.

How about utensils? Are they expecting, do they want to use their own? Do they want to use, you know, plasticware and paper plates? Are they expecting you to provide that? Are they going to provide it? And again, those pesky things sometimes people don’t think about beverages. Are they doing it? Are you doing it?

Do they need glassware if they end up renting? Are you going to handle that? Are they going to handle that? And again, does that include glassware? Are you going to be responsible for cleaning it up? Are they going to be responsible? All these little details about rentals. Six, timeline and logistics. I touched a little about this in the beginning.[00:07:00]

You should have, if it’s a more complicated event, a detailed timeline of events. When will you be there? When will food start being served? Um, do you need to take a break during a certain time because they’re going to be doing speeches if it’s a, you know, anniversary or something like that? Any other important schedule information?

Are they doing a champagne toast and they’re expecting you you? To prep it and serve it and have it be ready at that time. Those are important things you need to know. Um, logistical stuff is anything from, how are you going to get in? Is you need to be there five hours before the event starts? Who’s going to be there to let you in?

Is there, do they have the, Things with where you need to park. Do you need to park in the driveway? Do you need to park on the street? Do you need to park somewhere else? Where’s the best way for you to unload [00:08:00] into their home? Is it in the driveway? Is it in the front? Is it in the back? All those kinds of things.

And again, the cleanup procedure. How long are you expecting to be there? How long are they expecting you to be there? And what are you expected to clean? All important things to have laid out. Number seven, hugely important, cancellation and refund policy. Clearly state your terms and conditions for cancellations, including if there’s going to be a penalty, a fee.

Like if you cancel before this date, you get everything but a hundred dollars back. If you cancel after this date, you’re getting 50%. If you cancel within this time, you’re getting nothing. Outline the process for what exactly is going to happen during these different times, exactly what the refund is going to be, and everything else.

You might even want to include what happens if you have to cancel. [00:09:00] As we learned during COVID, there are certain times and certain things that can happen that you are not going to be able to do an event. And that’s something if you’re not going to specifically include in your agreement, you should just be thinking about and know.

Number eight, insurance and licenses, you know, do you have liability insurance? Do you need to provide proof of that to the, um, to the client? If they’re having you do something at their neighborhood community club or whatever, does their HOA require that they be listed on your insurance for the event?

That’s a very common thing. Those things you’ll want to find out if you’re not doing it in the client’s home. Number nine client responsibilities again. I keep saying this is the most important one. They’re all really important But you need to outline and this is why you can’t just use a boilerplate [00:10:00] You are going to be adjusting this for every event you do You need to specify Anything the client needs to be responsible for, and make sure they know it.

Again, access to the place where it’s going to be, um, if you’re coordinating the rentals, if they’re coordinating the rentals, if they’re handling the beverages, exactly what. All those little details, if they are supposed to provide all the dinnerware of their own, they’re saying they have enough dinnerware, they have enough tables, they have enough whatever, basically take everything that would happen at their party and decide what you’re doing.

And we’ll not decide, you know what I mean, what they need you to do and what they say they’re going to do so that it is written down. You can both look at it and they can go, Oh yeah, I can’t do that. Or I need you to do that. or whatever. Again, it’s keeping the communication clear. It’s keeping mistakes from happening.

Okay. And next number [00:11:00] 11, there’s a lot. I know signatures date. Okay. You both need to sign this in this agreement. And put the date on it that you’re signing it. Okay? We don’t want anyone thinking that this was signed later, or changed, or whatever. And then provide a copy to them. And you keep one yourself, of course.

Now, if you’re a big catering company, sure, you’re gonna need, like, Terms and conditions and all the like really, really legal deal. But when you’re a personal chef or you have your own cooking business that you’re doing on your own, you probably don’t need to get into this level of detail, the terms and conditions, it’s like a section that outlines again, liability limitations, dispute resolution processes, all sorts of weird stuff like that, that we really don’t have to worry about.

So. Again, [00:12:00] by having all the details clearly written and importantly agreed to by both of you will almost guarantee a smooth and successful event. You will be less stressed, more confident in what you’re doing and that you can provide the best experience possible to them. They will know it’s exactly what’s going to happen.

And God forbid, if there is any problem, you will both know and have agreed to exactly what the next step should be. And that only leaves the last thing for you to worry about, which of course is always making sure you have enough food.

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