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Coq au Vin ? or NO Coq au Vin?

Ballottine's picture

Since Saturday  night  (DD & I cooked for 111 people) I've been asked to cook a 50th wedding  anniversary dinner in July, lunch for 100 in my church on March 6, Progressive dinner (what is it ?) in somebody elses's church on March 8, and  a friend asked me to make coq au vin for 20 for this Friday.  


The first two I'll definetly do, the third I have to research, coq au vin I don't know. 


I  don't cook for money, so I formulated a new policy; they pay for the food and write a check to my favorite charity.   I "charge" $25  an hour, but that includes shopping & driving time and most importantly all conversations originated by "them". (Cooking actually does not "cost" as much because I do a lot of things simultaneously.)  


Please help me decide about coq au vin, but I have to do it real quick. (this is why I am posting on the wrong thread, sorry, Lee!)  If I don't charge this friend -- everyone in the group will feel entitled to the same, on the other hand how much can I charge for coq au vin for twenty people?  It is a lot of work and finding those tiny onions is not going to be easy, but it is just one dish.


Please tell me what you think about coq au vin  and  if you think I am reasonable in my "charging" fees.  Thanks for your help.  Bal


 


 


So much to cook; so little time.

 

So much to cook; so little time.

Gretchen's picture

(post #28816, reply #1 of 17)

How much should you charge? Well, if you go to a restaurant and order coq au vin, how much would it be--$15/person?  I just really have a hard time understanding your friends asking you to do these things--in the absence of your being a caterer. I have a friend who is a caterer and if I ask her to fix something for me I know it is going to COST.


I haven't made it for a long time (not to self) but I used Julia Child's recipe. Here is a link.


http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipes/coq_au_vin.html


If push comes to shove you can get the onions frozen or just use sliced onions.


Gretchen
Gretchen
Ballottine's picture

(post #28816, reply #3 of 17)

Thanks for the link.  Something new  to do on a snow day.  Stayed home to be with the kids, but they are out in the  snow & babysitting, so I have the computer to myself.


I can't charge a friend 300 bucks for a pot of chicken stew, it is too steep. 


If I am going to make coq au vin I have to have onions about  one inch in diameter, or  I  have to make something else.  Bal


 


So much to cook; so little time.

 

So much to cook; so little time.

Gretchen's picture

(post #28816, reply #5 of 17)

I can't charge a friend 300 bucks for a pot of chicken stew, it is too steep. 


I didn't really expect you would--but I will tell you that if I ordered from my friend, that would probably be her price.  Your friend is having a dinner party for 20 people and wants it catered.  That is the correct word for what she is asking. I have many friends who are GREAT cooks.  I would NEVER ask them to cook a dinner for me--nor would they ask me to do so.
In Charlotte when friends' children get married or make their debut, etc. a group gets together and gives a party.  Sometimes we "cater" it ourselves and sometimes we hire a caterer.  The latter is always expensive but if there are enough hosts it works out all right.  The last time we did it I was appalled at what was being charged for the appetizers in particular.


Gretchen
Gretchen
ashleyd's picture

(post #28816, reply #10 of 17)

Difficult to say what to do, if you do it and price it too low you will be pestered for ever, so tough though it will be you have to pitch high. At a minimum charge $100 on top of the ingredient cost (I figure that shopping, prep and cooking will take around 4 hours). Should give a price of less than $10/head, if your friend thinks it's too high then apologise that you can't do it for less, but turn it down. If you can buy pre-peeled onions that would help.


I quite like the look of Julia's recipe but for me that isn't cooked for quite long enough, my version takes an hour or more. Only testing will tell, make sure you leave enough time to finish cooking, it will hold well if you finish early.


"Appreciation is a wonderful thing; it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well."
Voltaire

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Ballottine's picture

(post #28816, reply #14 of 17)

Julia has a coq au van recipe in several of her cook books, and they all differ a bit. 


I bet her cooking time is shorter than yours because she is using a regular chicken from a regular US supermarket, not the good stuff  Alice Waters has in California or you guys have in Europe.


Onions! You had to remind me about onions! (LOL)  


Thanks for your input.  I think I'll go with it.  Of course, if I use  a fairly good wine and organic chicken coq au vin will taste great and the price will be high enough to deter "freeloaders"  in the future. Thank you!


 


So much to cook; so little time.

 

So much to cook; so little time.

Aberwacky's picture

(post #28816, reply #2 of 17)

I think you should start charging.  What you're doing is equivalent to a professional caterer--you already have a considerable portfolio.  JMNSHO, but if you continue doing what you have been doing, you will be taken advantage of.


Your time is valuable, and so are your skills, even if you don't value them as highly as you should (G).


For your church, you might not want to charge for your time (consider it part of your service to your church), but for other churches, I think you should.  Friends, too.  My ex sister-in-law was a caterer.  If I asked her to provide the goods and service for a party of mine, I expected to pay her going rate.   


As for what to charge, start by calling around local catering companies and finding out what they charge for something similar (dinner for 20. . .)  You can also call restaurants to find out the same thing as far as portion price, but remember, you're doing it on their schedule and coming to them, so that's worth a little more.


One thing to keep in mind.  In most freelancing businesses, people often don't charge enough to start with because they're so afraid of pricing themselves out of business.  Particularly women, who more than men don't always accurately assess the value and worth of the product they are providing. 


Most of all, good luck to you, Bal!  You have talent and skill.  Be proud of it.


Leigh

"Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them." 
-Leo Tolstoy
TessaK's picture

(post #28816, reply #4 of 17)

 JMNSHO, but if you continue doing what you have been doing, you will be taken advantage of.


Judging rom previous posts, I think Ballottine is way past that point already.

Aberwacky's picture

(post #28816, reply #7 of 17)

I  agree.


However, whether or not someone is actually taken advantage of depends on how they feel about it.


If my sister loves baking cakes for the office and does it for everyone's birthday on her time and at her expense, and they've come to expect it BUT she doesn't feel taken advantage of--she loves the work and the attention--then she's not being taken advantage of, even if I think that's what's happening.


If the widow gets swindled of 50K from some con man, but enjoyed his attention so much she thinks she got her money's worth, was she really taken advantage of?


Just musing. . .


Leigh


 

"Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them." 
-Leo Tolstoy
Gretchen's picture

(post #28816, reply #8 of 17)

I would clarify whether the two parties at the churches are for the church or that the church is being used by people as a large enough place to have the party. In that case it is just like your friend--you are catering for someone else.  You deserve to be paid. It doesn't really sound like a church activity.
Our church has a person who is paid to do the cooking for the various mealtime activities.

Gretchen

Gretchen
Ballottine's picture

(post #28816, reply #12 of 17)

The lunch is my church event. We are having a liturgical day from 9 am to 4 pm and need lunch.  My church always offers to pay me, but  I always refuse, they also ask me well in advance if I can do it, and they never question the menu.  So I love to cook for them.


The Progressive dinner - I don't know.



 


So much to cook; so little time.


Edited 1/26/2004 2:00:27 PM ET by BALLOTTINE

 

So much to cook; so little time.

Gretchen's picture

(post #28816, reply #13 of 17)

The lunch is my church event.


I was wondering about the 50th anniversary party--I guess I elided to think it was being held at the church also.


Agree with Ashley about the cooking time. I just looked it up in the NYTimes cookbook and Julia's and it is more like an hour plus.


And I still cannot understand why another church would ask you to cook for them.  It is obvious that the word has gotten out on two counts--the food is good and it is cheap.


Gretchen
Gretchen
Ballottine's picture

(post #28816, reply #15 of 17)

The wedding anniversary lunch will take place in the church hall, the lady has been singing in the  church chorus most of her life, but no, it will not be a church event.  Bal

 


So much to cook; so little time.

 

So much to cook; so little time.

Ballottine's picture

(post #28816, reply #9 of 17)

Thanks for your thoughts.


My situation is this:  I love to cook.  I want to be able to pick and choose what I want to cook.  Professionals don't do that unless they are  real famous.  I have a full time job, I don't have time or need to get famous.  I'll turn 60 on March 28.  (Are you there Jean?)


I don't want cooking to turn  into a nuisance when you have to keep records.  I have the  sanitation certificate, but I don't have certified  kitchen facilities at home.  I don't want to deal with all that.


It is OK for me to cook in my church kitchen.  They gave me a huge cabinet right in the kitchen in which I store my pots, pans and tools, so I don't need to drag  stuff from home each time.   Their insurance also  covers my  cooking  for the church events.  


As to the pricing, it would be unfair for me to charge as much as established catering companies do, I don't have their overhead.  I just don't want to be  "exploited," but I also don't want to stop cooking.  Bal


 


So much to cook; so little time.

 

So much to cook; so little time.

DeannaS's picture

(post #28816, reply #6 of 17)

Bal,


A progressive party is one in which each course is served at a different location. So, I'm not sure how you would be doing all the cooking for a progressive party. Seems strange. I would ask "which course?"


As for the other stuff, I agree that you should definitely charge. In addition, I'd go out and get yourself set up as an LLC. It's pretty simple and doesn't cost much. But, it will let you write-off your expensives, and, more importantly, it will protect your assets in case something goes wrong. I know you would NEVER serve contaminated food. But, you never know what people will accuse others of doing. If you operate as an LLC, only the assets of the business are ever in jeapordy. As you're operating now (assuming you're not an LLC or some other entity) someone could sue you personally.

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

Ballottine's picture

(post #28816, reply #11 of 17)

Hi Deanna,


I've been asked to make a main course, but what is the reason for progressive parties?  Why stretch the meal so much?  In this case it will start at 6:30  with appetizers and drinks at one church, then  at 8 they will move to the main course church, and they will go to a third church for dessert.  All of this on a Monday night.?  I don't get it.


What is LLC?


As I mentioned before, when I cook for my church, I am covered by their insuraance.  when I cook for a friend I hand them a signed letter (composed by a lawyer friend of mine long ago) that explains that I am doing this as a favor  for a friend, etc.)


 


So much to cook; so little time.

 

So much to cook; so little time.

DeannaS's picture

(post #28816, reply #16 of 17)

An LLC is a Limited Liability Corporation. It varies slightly by state, but in Wisconsin, you can just go to the DOA office and fill out a form and give them X dollars (I think it was $35) and they will assign you a tax id number and you'll be incorporated as an LLC. Your taxes won't really be too different, as LLC's with only one member can file just like a Sole Proprietor (which isn't too hard - I'm actually a sole proprietor, but if I did it over, I'd go LLC).


$400 is the limit to how much you can legally earn without considering yourself a business, so even if you only charge for one or two events a year, you'd probably need to be a business of some sort and deal with the accompanying taxes/paperwork.


Generally, the idea behind a progessive party is that you want to either a: show off your various establishments/homes/churchs or b: spend a significant amount of time with your friends. My parents organize one every year that's done by pontoon boat. The pontooning is an integral part of the event. I've also heard of Christmas caroling ones, where you carol from location to location. And, my horse friends have talked about doing a horseback one (though organizing that would be a total nightmare.)


So, I'm not sure why they'd want to do one on a Monday night. Seems like a tad much.


 

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

Ballottine's picture

(post #28816, reply #17 of 17)

 


Thank you so much,  you do have a good point. Now I have more things to worry about.  LOL. Bal


 


So much to cook; so little time.

 

So much to cook; so little time.