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Find a chef near San Diego, CA

Find a chef near San Diego, CA

48 near you

Find a chef near San Diego, CA

48 near you

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Top 10 Chefs near San Diego, CA

Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.
Reviews for San Diego chefs
Kara H.
Chef Trevor was awesome for my moms 70th! He was so responsive, nice and everything was delicious!! He went above and beyond, thank you chef Trevor!
Your Table - Personal Chef ServicesYour Table - Personal Chef Services
Chris K.
Chef Jason is plain amazing: His ability to take my ramblings and turn them in to a professional menu astonished my team. Be sure to include The chefs desserts, apparently he likes making them... 1000% recommend Chef Jason, In this day it is refreshing to see a family, professional, and down to earth Man succeeding.
Flavor AffinityFlavor Affinity
Amanda T.
My experience with Chef Adam was a great one. He made a 4 course meal for me and my boyfriend as a Christmas date. We both loved the meals and Adam so much we have made a deal that we will hire a chef to cook for us more often! Highly suggest Chef Adam! He was quick and well worth the price!!
WebbcreationfoodWebbcreationfood
Heline M.
Chef Stacy was great and the food was very delicious. Definitely recommend her services. She is very easy to work with and with her sous chef, they prepared a wonderful 4 course menu for my 10 guests.
Epicures Private Chef ServiceEpicures Private Chef Service
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Bell spent time before the evening making sure the menu fit our family's diet restrictions and preferences. He and his sous chef (his wonderful mother!) arrived at our daughter's home right on time and set to work. They were professional and friendly and spent time demonstrating and helping our 13 year old granddaughter, the family's budding chef, act as a sous sous chef. This evening was a gift for her and she seemed to enjoy the experience as well as the food. Every care was taken to perfect the dishes, including a quick trip to the nearby market to replace a vegetable that did not meet the high standards of the chefs. The presentation was attractive and the dishes were delicious. Each was served with an explanation and a bon appetit. The experience and food were just what we hoped for and we truly enjoyed getting to know our excellent chefs.
Main CourseMain Course
Jamie w.
Very good, great guy/great chef Everything was perfect
Dinner with a ChefDinner with a Chef
Caroline W.
The good was great! Thank you chef for making the family get together special!
Enjoy Dining InEnjoy Dining In
Anna T.
Chef Mumsie's was great! The were quick to respond to all my emails and calls. They were even willing to work with our budget. The catering service was on time and the food was incredible! Our event was a success and that's because of Chef Mumsie! Thank you!
Chef MumsieChef Mumsie
Jamiyla B.
Chef Adam was amazing! Not only did he help me create an ExtraordinaryItalian menu
WebbcreationfoodWebbcreationfood
Kevin R.
Chef Jenny nailed it. We needed plenty of hangover food for our post-wedding crew, and she blew us all away with her homemade breakfast sandwiches, delicious eggs (made on-site), cinnamon rolls and the best bagels I've had outside of NYC / Jersey. Chef Jenny was incredibly personable, easy (and fun) to work with and exceeded all expectations. Looking forward to working with Chef Jenny again. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Chef Jenny CooksChef Jenny Cooks
Marina H.
This was such a last minute thing and Chef Jason was amazing. We will definitely be using him again in the future
Flavor AffinityFlavor Affinity
Thumbtack Customer
Oh my gosh! Don't know where to start. Chef Lilian was phenomenal as a chef as a organizer. Together with assistant Nunu is a team that make any celebration perfect. The 18 guests at the sitdown plated dinner raved of the food and presentation. For me as the hostess of my husband's surprise birthday party, I never felt more supported in presenting an elegant evening to friends and family. I would be happy to be contacted directly if you are considering Chef Lilian for your event.
Busy Bee Cook for MeBusy Bee Cook for Me
Tracy M.
Chef Taylor did an AMAZING job for my event. We had a James Bond themed 30th birthday party and needed an hors d'oeuvres set up to match the theme. Chef Taylor spent extra time developing a custom menu that perfectly suited our theme. He worked with us to create a menu that matched our theme, budget, and taste preferences. He was open to feedback and adjustments, so the entire process was smooth and easy to navigate. For the event itself, Chef Taylor showed up with help, both wearing masks and very courteous, and set up a beautiful array of delicacies for my guests. They worked swiftly and cleaned up after themselves, ensuring I didn't have anything extra to pick up at the end of the event. I highly recommend Chef Taylor for any and all events!!!!!
Chef Taylor DennisChef Taylor Dennis
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Andres is not only a very talented culinary professional, but his years of training gives him insight to what it takes for a complete dining experience. He was professional, engaging, and talented. Our meal based upon some dishes from his family roots, were absolutely delicious. You will know by your first contact with Chef, that your night will be special.
Dinner with a ChefDinner with a Chef
Thumbtack Customer
WOW!! What a fantastic evening with Shawna from Best Mobile Chef. From the moment I first contacted Shawna, I KNEW I wanted to work with her. Shawna is friendly, helpful, and an AWESOME chef. She prepared an incredible meal and yummy desserts for our Christmas dinner party. Our guests were so impressed. Thank you, Shawna!!
Best Mobile ChefBest Mobile Chef
Chris K.
Carly is amazing!! She answered my many calls and emails to make this project smooth. I highly recommend Carly for your Chef needs
Daily Chew CateringDaily Chew Catering
Katie H.
We had a wonderful experience with Chef Jillian and Francesca at our dinner! Besides the food being absolutely 100% divine, their service was incredible. Starting with a really great cocktail all the way through to the most amazing dessert - this was top notch. And on the front end, it was so easy to work with Chef to create the perfect menu for our occasion. Thank you!! We already want to come back!
Busy Bee Cook for MeBusy Bee Cook for Me
Michael H.
The chef was great and pulled off an Amazing Meal with short notice! Our guests raved about the food and we will definitely use his services in the future.
Dinner with a ChefDinner with a Chef
Kimmy w.
I don’t really know where to start. This is the first time I have had a chef come to the house. My friend turned 40 and we wanted to something special. Chef Taylor blew us out of the water. He was beyond fantastic. So easy to plan and talk to. Not pushy. Was so prompt. We had vegetarian and meat eaters and he was very accommodating. the food..... the food was incredible. He had brought another chef and a server. They to were also personable and courteous. I didn’t lift a finger the whole night. After the 4 courses (fine dining I have to add ) were served they cleaned my whole kitchen. All 9 of us are dreaming about the food still. We are already planning something just so we can have them back. Chef Taylor. Hats off to you. You nailed it. Thank you for bringing high quality fine dining to my back yard.
Chef Taylor DennisChef Taylor Dennis
Jocelyne W.
What can I say about Chef Jason, renamed to Chef Fabulicious by my guests! From the first phone call to the dinner, the service was impeccable. During the first call, he took the time to understand what we liked, which restaurants we loved to frequent, and together we came up with a menu. He was very responsive and so easy to work with. On the day of, his crew showed up on time and by the time I had arrived, they had already gotten organized and laid the tables. There's nothing better than working with someone who is dependable and professional. My group of friends are foodies like my fiance and I, so the quality of food was extremely important. He more than exceeded all of our expectations, and my guests wanted to like their plates! The value that Chef Jason brought was incredible. I was so busy taking care of my guests, that I didn't have a chance to eat. They packed up food for me to be able to take home afterwards. I'm so grateful to Chef Jason for making my engagement party a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend him if you want amazing food. Thank you, Chef Jason!
Flavor AffinityFlavor Affinity
Karen l.
From the get go I liked what I saw and what I read from Kathy's other reviews and pictures. I didnt even bother looking for another chef. When she met all us girls it was an instant connection. Very easy to talk to and very outgoing. All the food she cooked and prepared for us was exceptional. We all enjoyed our evening to the fullest. Highly, highly recommend hiring Fruitcakes Chef Services.
Fruitcakes Chef ServicesFruitcakes Chef Services
Tom F.
Lilian was an awesome personal chef. The meal was fabulous. She was a delight to work with. The dinner for 10 was a night to remember. If in the area Lilian is an excellent choice. Highly recommend! Highlight of our trip to San Diego.
Busy Bee Cook for MeBusy Bee Cook for Me
Paola S.
Chef Taylor Dennis is amazzzziiiiing! The food was perfect, delicious and tasty! He was early for preparation. Service was also great! I have already recommended him to friends. Will DEFINITELY get him again!
Chef Taylor DennisChef Taylor Dennis
Morgan S.
Chef Steven's food was so delicious! He cooked a three course meal for 11 of us girls for my sisters bachelorette and we all loved his food. Very friendly and really engaging!
Chef Steven TylerChef Steven Tyler
Don M.
I highly recommend Chef Adam Webb. We were looking for something special for our 52nd anniversary and Chef Adam delivered. He made the whole experience easy and enjoyable. In advance he provided us with varied menu suggestions; he was also open and flexible to our suggestions. He showed up on time, brought everything with him and prepared a wonder meal. He did all the cleaning and left our kitchen as he found. We plan on using him again.
WebbcreationfoodWebbcreationfood
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