Wedding and Event Catering

Find a chef near Palm Springs, CA

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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

How do you find a good caterer?

Reviews, interviews and menu tastings will help you find the right catering choice for your big day. Start by screening possible wedding caterers based on past reviews. If a caterer you are interested in has a review that concerns you, ask them about it; how they respond will be very telling. Next, ask about their availability for your wedding date.

If the wedding caterer is available on your date, it’s time to talk about menus and prices. Be clear about what your maximum budget is find out what choices this will allow you. Caterers may custom-create a menu for your event, or they may have menu templates within different price ranges that can guide your decision. A clear budget gives the caterer clear parameters within which to work and offer creative suggestions. Schedule a menu tasting to confirm you love your wedding menu. Once you have a menu and date, and have paid a deposit to reserve the caterer’s services, confirm additional details including when the food will be delivered to the site, what kind of service will be provided, how many servers will be onsite and for how long, and who is responsible for setup and cleanup. The more specific your contract, the fewer worries you’ll have on your wedding day. Get more smart hiring tips here.

How much does a personal chef cost?

Hiring a personal chef usually costs anywhere from $40-$100 or more per person. Request free cost estimates from personal chefs in your area so you’ll know exactly how much it will cost to hire one for your needs. For an accurate quote, be sure to let the chefs know the number of people they’ll need to feed, what you’d like on the menu and other relevant details. 

To learn more about the factors that impact the cost to hire a personal or private home chef, read our cost guide.

What should you look for in a caterer?

A delicious meal is a critical element of a successful wedding, with happy guests fondly remembering your fabulous wedding food. The right caterer for you will be:

  • Available: Even the best caterer is no good if they aren’t available on your wedding date. Ask early before you get your heart set on someone.
  • Affordable for you: Find a caterer that you can afford. Having a spending plan ahead of time will mean you won’t overspend on food.
  • A good personality fit: Wedding planning is stressful, so work with someone that you can get along with and communicate with easily.
  • Experienced and recommended: Ensure the company has a proven track record with events of your size and the references to back it up.
  • Transparent about money: Steer clear of shady pricing. Find a caterer who is very clear about costs and is happy to talk you through budgets and pricing options.
  • Transparent about food: Find someone who is clear about where they source their food from and where it is prepared.

How much does it cost to hire a caterer?

Catering prices depend mainly on how fancy you want the food and service to be and how many guests you’ll have. When you’re first looking to hire a caterer for your event, consider how many guests you’ll have and your total food and drink budget. The national average for event catering is $340, but catering prices can range into the thousands depending on your menu, guest count, and service.

Event catering is a broad term that covers everything from fully prepared, ready-to-eat food that the hosts plate and serve themselves to full-service, multicourse meals, including rental of linens, glassware and other items, with service staff organized by the catering company. Usually a caterer will determine cost based on the type of event you’re having, how many guests will attend, the level of service you desire, and what type of menu you’d like to have. For example, if you have a set catering budget, say $1,500, and you plan to have 50 people attend, that means you have $30 per person for food. If you have the same budget with 100 people, you have $15 per person for food. In this way, the number of people you want to attend your event and the level of food you want to serve them determines how much catering will cost.

How much should catering cost per person?

Catering prices can range from about $10 per guest on the low end to $150 or more per person on the high end. Catering costs represent the quality of food, presentation, variety, ingredients and service. But catering prices are more than the cost to cook the food that will be at your party; they also include the cost for the company to do business. Here is a simple breakdown of catering prices:

  • Menu: The food you serve your guests will directly affect the price per person. Organic ingredients, complex recipes, elaborate presentations, or high-ticket items like lobster or filet mignon all add to the cost.
  • Service: Buffet, family style, plated dinners — how you serve the food affects the cost per person. For example, a true plated meal can cost about twice the price of a staff-assisted buffet because of staffing costs. Hiring waiters, bartenders and cleanup crew will all be calculated into the per-person catering price.
  • Drinks: Providing beverages and alcoholic drinks for guests greatly increases your catering budget. Hosting an open bar can cost as much per person as the meal.
  • Rentals: Seating, plates, glassware, etc., will all have an effect on the cost per person for catering. For example, a plastic conference table that seats 10 costs about $6 to rent on average, while a wooden farmhouse table is about $80 to rent on average.
  • Business costs: Any catering cost will also include the cost for the company to do business such as insurance, employee wages, commercial kitchen space and more.

How much does wedding catering cost per person?

Wedding catering costs will always vary based on the number of guests you’re inviting, the menu you want to serve, and the way the food will be served to your guests. As you interview wedding catering companies, you’ll be presented with a cost per person for various menus. On the low end, wedding catering may cost approximately $15-$18 per person. This would include prepared food only, with no setup or service of any kind. The starting price for a simple buffet meal with minimal service typically averages $22 per person. Opting for the same menu with all organic ingredients could raise your costs to about $33 per person. A moderately upscale menu (finer ingredients, more elaborate presentation) could range from $24 to $34 per person. High-end wedding catering cost truly has no limit. Lobster, filet mignon, specialty seafood, organic ingredients — menu choices like these can boost your cost per person up to $150 and more.

How much should catering cost for a wedding?

The cost of wedding catering will reflect the level of service, the menu you choose, the luxury you desire and the number of guests you invite. Where you live also plays a major role in your wedding catering costs. The regional cost to do business and local cost of food will affect your catering bill. There is no set price for wedding catering, because each wedding and each menu is different. This is why many caterers provide a per-person price. This allows you to break down what it costs to feed each person based on the menu you want. Working with your caterer, you can adjust menu items, service level and more to accommodate your budget and guest count. Keep in mind that wedding catering costs are not just for the food. The bill reflects all the components that go into commercial food catering: a commercial kitchen, ingredients, staff, insurance, marketing and more. Here are some examples of average costs:

  • Three-course plated meal, moderately upscale, for 125 in Los Angeles: $14,000. Because of staffing costs, a true plated meal costs about twice as much as a staff-assisted buffet.
  • Buffet meal, standard menu, for 100 in Los Angeles: $5,000.
  • Per-person cost for hors d'oeuvres, dinner and nonalcoholic beverages: $24–$37, depending on menu selection, in Southern California.
  • Drop off prepared food for 50: $1,000 in North Carolina. Price does not include any service, setup or breakdown.

How do you serve food at a wedding?

Food service at your wedding will affect your catering costs and influence the atmosphere of the reception. Buffet style is more informal; plated meals are a bit fancier; family style encourages sharing. Read about the different food service styles to select your preferred wedding catering choice.

  • Buffet: Caterers can drop off prepared foods for a DIY and budget-friendly buffet option where you set everything up and food is entirely self-service. For a fuller-service buffet, the caterers set up food, oversee the buffet throughout the event, and clean up afterwards. For food only, prices per person might average $16-$18, while a service buffet may start around $20-$22 per person. Adding food stations can increase per-person costs by at least $3-$5.
  • Family style: Servers bring large platters of food to guest tables in courses. It’s less formal (and less expensive) than a plated meal, but more formal and higher-cost than a buffet. You’ll need large tables to accommodate the platters, so plan accordingly when renting furniture for the event.
  • Plated: A plated event is a formal dining experience; waitstaff serve your seated guests for each course, fill their drinks, and attend to them throughout the dinner. A plated dinner is typically the most expensive option for both food and service.
  • Food trucks: Similar to buffets, with food trucks your guests get their own food and bring it to their table. A food truck gives a relaxed and playful vibe to your reception.
  • Cocktail reception: If you don’t want a formal seated dinner, you can opt for a wide assortment of passed appetizers at an extended cocktail hour reception.

Do you tip a wedding caterer?

Tipping 15 percent to 20 percent on a $3,000 catering bill can feel daunting — especially in light of all the other costs of throwing a wedding — but tipping your wedding caterer is standard practice. Be sure to ask your caterer about their specific policies. Many catering companies include gratuity as a line item on their bill. If tipping is not automatically included in your total, a good approach is to tip all the people involved the day of the event rather than paying one lump sum to the catering company. For each server and bartender, you can tip $20-$50, depending on how long they were onsite and whether they did exceptional work. You can also tip the chef; experts suggest $50. It’s also a good idea to tip the catering manager, the point-of-contact person who keeps the catering service running smoothly the day of your wedding, ensures all the food looks beautiful and is plentiful, and resolves any mishaps. Industry pros recommend tipping the catering manager $100-$200. If gratuity is not included and you’re tipping individuals, set aside $200-$500 in cash to be safe.

How do you find a personal chef?

You can find local personal chefs by searching on Thumbtack. Once you enter in your details (how many guests the chef needs to feed, the date, your zip code, etc.), you’ll see a list of chefs who fit your needs.

Reviews for Palm Springs chefs
Philip D.
It was a great decision to hire A Wayfaring Chef for my event. Chef Jessie was communicative and professional, and the food was delicious.
A Wayfaring ChefA Wayfaring Chef
Mollie M.
We loved Chef Tim!
Southern California Private Chef ServicesSouthern California Private Chef Services
Kevin D.
Great experience with Chef Bloomhuff catering a meal for my family - amazing menu, great attention to detail and a really nice guy - our whole family loved the evening - thanks Chef!
Private Chef William BloomhuffPrivate Chef William Bloomhuff
Debby K.
Chef Mike is an amazing Chef!! Who went above and beyond for my husbands birthday weekend! He prepared the most beautiful and delicious appetizers, dinners and desserts for a party of 12+. He was such a fun value add to our crew, we enjoyed having him! I’d highly recommend Chef Mike, he’s wonderful!!
Ambassadors ChefAmbassadors Chef
Rashida V.
Chef was AMAZING!!! Very friendly, punctual, responds quickly and most importantly, the food is amazing!! Everything he cooked taste great.Chef will be my go to Chef from now on for every event.
Lamor’s Creole KitchenLamor’s Creole Kitchen
Michelle S.
I highly recommend Chef Collin. He made a delicious 4 course menu for my friend’s 50th birthday for 6 of us. His menu was elegant restaurant quality with ingredient driven options. I looked at 5 total private chefs and Chef Collin had the most innovative choices by far. Planning with Chef Collin was easy going with clear expectations. It was a full service restaurant experience in the comfort of our AirBnB. It was a ‘foodie’ crowd and we were all impressed.
Chef CollinChef Collin
Jamie B.
Chef Victor, Willie and Reannon went above and beyond to make our celebration special. The service and level of professionalism was excellent, and we felt comfortable with them right away. We were particularly impressed at the freshness of the salad course and how perfectly the salmon was cooked. They really seemed to care! I will also note that they saved the day because a chef from a different company cancelled with only 10 days' notice before our event. When selecting a chef for an important event, be warned that chefs unaffiliated with groups like Pacific Coast Palate have no backup!
Pacific Coast PalatePacific Coast Palate
Sarinna S.
Chef E and his assistants did an amazing job catering mine and twin sister’s bday party! Initially, I had planned for party of 12 but a friend of mine came to surprise us for our bday weekend. Chef E was so accommodating and flexible to add 1 guest the day of! Chef E responds timely and was so willing to work with me in making sure every guest’s entree was accounted for (some guests had dietary restrictions and preferences with their meals). Chef E catered a 3 course meal for my party: Cobb salad, entree, and crème brûlée My party absolutely loved this entree: Ribeye steak, lobster tails, 5 cheeses mac&cheese, Cajun asparagus and shrimp MUST HAVE: mac &cheese (you & your party will love it!!) Chef E also left an extra tray of mac &cheese and crème brûlée for our guests to enjoy for the rest of night. After cooking, Chef E and his assistants cleaned up well on the prep area/kitchen. If you want quality service and a great team to cater to your party, I highly recommend Chef E!
Lamor’s Creole KitchenLamor’s Creole Kitchen
Andre G.
Chef definitely knows his way around a kitchen and the spread he made was amazing.
Chef D. Perry-Edwards & Chef M. PierreChef D. Perry-Edwards & Chef M. Pierre
Thumbtack Customer
Thank you Chef Sarena!!!! My husband and our guests had the most amazing time. Hands down the best food we have ever had!!!! I can't wait for our next event and have Chef Sarena cater for you. Amazing food!!!
Chef Sarena- Personal/Private Chef ServicesChef Sarena- Personal/Private Chef Services
Michael N.
It was a last minute booking and Chef William was so accommodating. The food was excellent, very high quality.
Private Chef William BloomhuffPrivate Chef William Bloomhuff
Matthew F.
Chef Ray was great to work with and his food was awesome! I would definitely hire him again.
Cooking What You Crave.. ~A Private Chef Service ~Cooking What You Crave.. ~A Private Chef Service ~
Jennifer D.
Chef James concluded our stay in Palm Springs with a delicious plated dinner for six. It was a new experience (and such a treat) to have a personal chef come to our AirBnB and prepare dinner...we could enjoy every course with no dishes/pots/pans/grill/oven to clean afterwards. It was magical.
Thumbtack Customer
Chef William was wonderful! We were a group of girls in a home for a bachelorette party and he was perfectly professional and made sure we had food and drinks at all times. The food was outstanding! I would definitely use Chef William again next time I am in Palm Springs.
Private Chef William BloomhuffPrivate Chef William Bloomhuff
Stephanie M.
Chef Mike was amazing! Some friends and I did a reunion trip, and with everything going we decided to hire a chef to come to us. Best decision ever! Mike was extremely friendly, the food was amazing, and he made the whole experience really cool. Even the presentation was lovely. Highly highly recommend.
Ambassadors ChefAmbassadors Chef
Cort L.
Chef Sarena prepared an amazing dinner and breakfast buffet for our 20 guests at a Palm Springs 40th birthday party. The food was spectacular and received universal raves from the guests. Chef Sarena was also a delight to work with. She was responsive to messages and helped plan a delicious menu for both meals, soliciting the host's preferences and designing a menu that reflected them. But, again, the highlight was the food -- made with fresh ingredients and prepared with a meticulous attention to detail. I would use Chef Sarena again in a heartbeat!
Chef Sarena- Personal/Private Chef ServicesChef Sarena- Personal/Private Chef Services
Thumbtack Customer
Chef William was AMAZING! The paella and sides were wonderful, but in addition, William and his staff made it all easy. He handled everything, from the food and drink service to the rental of tables and china. My event couldn't have gone any more smoothly, and I have Chef William to thank!
Private Chef William BloomhuffPrivate Chef William Bloomhuff
Philip C.
Chef Tony was amazing! Our office took a much needed vacation at an Airbnb and we Chef Tony made us lunch and dinner. He came over a couple of hours before lunch to prepare and cook/grill everything and then came cleaned up and left for a few hours. He came back with a couple of hours later and did the same for dinner. The food was incredible! We were a party of 6 and everyone agreed this is the best lunch and dinner we ever had. Chef Tony's creativity and attention to detail surpasses what I have experienced in any 5 star restaurant. I can't wait for another opportunity to see what Chef Tony will create. I defintely recommend give California Dining! You will not be disappointed!
California DiningCalifornia Dining
Martha F.
Chef Owen was amazing! He was super responsive and very creative! We had a small intimate dinner party of eight and what I really appreciated about him was the ideas and suggestions he had. We had a 5 course meal with Lobster and Fillet Mignon. The Tiramisu was sooo good! Thank you Chef Owen!
Cartwright & Co. CaterersCartwright & Co. Caterers
Kristen a.
Chef Tony was amazing for our girls weekend. He came to our VRBO, brought all the groceries and served us in the pool! He also made delicious cocktails! Food was wonderful!! He cleaned all dishes and took out garbage before he left. Will for sure use Chef Tony for our next trip!
California DiningCalifornia Dining
Greg K.
This woman is a complete professional, excellent chef, fantastic value and great to work with. Book Personal Touch for your event, you’ll be delighted!!
Personal TouchPersonal Touch
Jessica B.
Awesome experience with Chef Gabe. His food was great! He was kind, responsive and overall made the experience wonderful! HIGHLY recommend!
mercenary chef, gzmercenary chef, gz
Anne N.
Amazing night with incredible food. We were so grateful for this meal after a long day of travel. Chef and his assistant was great!
Private Chef William BloomhuffPrivate Chef William Bloomhuff
Shavon L.
Ramona is a wonderful chef who planned an incredible evening for me and girlfriends. Would definitely work with her again when we are in the area.
Ramona ZamoraRamona Zamora
Daivon D.
Absolutely one of the best experiences I’ve had with a private chef. Ramona was very responsive and able to pivot to our needs last minute
Ramona ZamoraRamona Zamora
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