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Find a food service professional near San Diego, CA

Find a food service professional near San Diego, CA

46 near you

Find a food service professional near San Diego, CA

46 near you

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Top 10 Food Service Professionals near San Diego, CA

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.

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 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 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 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.

Reviews for San Diego food service professionals
Thumbtack Customer
Great service and Great food. Very pleased!!
Natasha A.
Surprise dinner for husband birthday,service and food was amazing.
Fruitcakes Chef ServicesFruitcakes Chef Services
Jennifer S.
Would definitely hire them again! Great service and fantastic food.
Frances S.
Got great raves from our guests about the food and service
Busy Bee Cook for MeBusy Bee Cook for Me
Thumbtack Customer
Awesome service and flexibility!!! She made the day perfect, and the food was GREAT!
Francoise BranaFrancoise Brana
Thumbtack Customer
there were a few misunderstandings from our end but the food was absolutely amazing. i was very satisfied with the food, drinks, and service. thank you so much baja tacos and you will definitely hear from us again. thank you for your blessing. -Ernesto & Ariadna Garcia
Thumbtack Customer
Simon was fantastic, the food was delicious, the set up was beautiful. We were so happy and will use their services again and again. Thank you, Simon!
All Aspects Catering & Events
Sylvia B.
Would say food was wonderful. More then enough food for my guest. Great customer service. Ran 30 min late and packed up early. But that was ok all my guest got to eat and had leftover. Overall I give 5 stars and will be hiring them again.
Scott H.
Kathy was amazing. The service was above and beyond, and the food was fantastic. I will definitely book with her again the next time I'm in San Diego. Thanks Kathy!
Fruitcakes Chef ServicesFruitcakes Chef Services
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
Thumbtack Customer
I was more than pleased with the quality of the food, service and price. I have already made arrangements for another event next week. Francisco, David and Maribel were wonderful.
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
Thumbtack Customer
EXCELLENT SERVICE!!! We had an anniversary party for our building and the event went really smooth with All Aspects Catering! They were very professional, extremely accommodating and friendly to everyone. The food was GREAT! We will definitely use them again!
All Aspects Catering & Events
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
Thumbtack Customer
What a fabulous evening. Lilian was such a professional and the food was absolutely delicious and so well prepared and presented. We had a full meal service: cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, salad, entree and a cheese flight. Amazing. Lilian was so patient and went above and beyond what we had expected with regard to service, clean up and overall experience.
Busy Bee Cook for MeBusy Bee Cook for Me
Steve S.
I contacted Busy Bee Cook for Me to cater my Dad's 90th birthday party for about 40 people in our senior complex. She came and checked out the venue and made some recommendations for the food and service that were right on the mark for what I was looking for. On the day of the party, she and her crew showed up right on time, and both the food and service were totally amazing. People who were there have been saying that it was the party against which all other parties they ever attend will always be measured. And Dad enjoyed himself immensely. Thanks so much to Lilian and her crew for helping make the party for my Dad such a great success!.
Busy Bee Cook for MeBusy Bee Cook for Me
Kara B.
Chef Taylor was great to work with. The meal he planned for our group of 8 was phenomenal. The food was incredible. Great attention to detail. He and his team provided excellent service. If the opportunity arises, I would definitely hire him again. You should too, you won’t be disappointed!
Chef Taylor DennisChef Taylor Dennis
Thumbtack Customer
We hosted a birthday dinner for 10 people and hired Jen and Max for a private dinner. Jen and Max were amazing!!! The food and service was outstanding! We were served a 5 course dinner with wine pairing, all our guest cannot stop expressing how great dinner was. We will definitely be using Jen and Max again!
Max & Jen CateringMax & Jen Catering
Thumbtack Customer
The Royal Food Services Team exceeded our expectations and made our Mother's Day Brunch an enjoyable experience. Michael was very professional and easy to work with. The moment we selected this service, they immediately reached out to discuss details for our event, and provided excellent suggestions that we had not thought of. As we approached the event, Michael scheduled an onsite visit to go through a dry run of the event and ensure no detail was overlooked. We discussed the menu, expectations and any additional special requests. The day of the event went without a hitch. Set up was quick and easy, the team was very professional, friendly and catered the guests every request. When they were ready to wrap up, they closed everything down, cleaned up, did all dishes and cleaned the floor and made sure everything was the way they had found it. I cannot express how pleased we were with this service, they enjoyed supporting our event and it is apparent they take pride in their service. I will absolutely use Royal Food Service again without hesitation, and without considering another provider. Thank you Michael and Travis for making out Mother's Day Celebration a great one to remember!!!
Royal Food Service and CateringRoyal Food Service and Catering
Thumbtack Customer
AJ's Primal Eatery is by far the best catering company that I've had the pleasure of trying out. You made my wedding spectacular with all your savory dishes. The food was gourmet and full of flavor. My guests and I were so impressed with how tasty everything was. The menu was just perfect! Chef Gil, I will refer everyone to you! Customer service was A++++. Thank you!
AJ's Primal Eatery Culinary Concepts & CateringAJ's Primal Eatery Culinary Concepts & 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
Travis M.
Bajas was great! They were excellent in communicating with me and were able to find our party location even though it was a bit confusing. Once set up they really did make tortillas right there in front of us as well as their meats. All food was great as well as salsa, rice and beans. I would definitely use this company again! Great customer service and attitude as well on site!!
Thumbtack Customer
Kevin and Armena did our firm holiday party and they were fantastic! The food was wonderful and the service was beyond what I expected. Armena decorated our tables and they looked great! Kevin did all the serving and he did a great job. Everything went very well and I received alot of compliments about them. I would definitely use them again. Thanks Kevin and Armena!
Armidas CateringArmidas Catering
Deanna T.
I hired jet bbq to cook dinner for my sister and her husband for her 40th Birthday and their 20 year Anniversary. I live in Chicago and they are in San Diego. James made planning this surprise so easy. He showed up on time and cooked a delicious meal. They had nothing but wonderful things to say about the food and service they received. THANK YOU JET BBQ FOR MAKING THIS A MEMORABLE DAY!
Thumbtack Customer
Brought in Andres each morning during our vacation to be woken up by delicious smelling food and fresh fruit after a fun night out. Andres delivered. From his Crab Benedict one morning to his Huevos Rancheros the next and American breakfast on steroids the final day with stuffed frenchroast, perfect scrambled eggs, cheese stuffed tator tots, crispy bacon and the list goes on! All served with freshly squeezed orange juice that he must put something else in it because it's crave worthy. Most days we didn't even eat again until dinner he fed us so well in the morning. He even leaves the kitchen spotless when done. Great service. Great food. Great guy. Highly recommend.
Dinner with a ChefDinner with a Chef
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