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Find a chef near Chicago, IL

Find a chef near Chicago, IL

36 near you

Find a chef near Chicago, IL

36 near you

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Top 10 Chefs near Chicago, IL

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.

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 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.

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 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 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 Chicago chefs
Kendra B.
It was my husband and myself anniversary and I had Chef Candace for my chef. She did a great job, Candace was extremely nice and very professional. Her meal she cooked for us was really good, if I ever need a chef again I will most definitely ask Chef Candace again. Thank You Chef Candace.
Indulging in Flavors with Chef CandaceIndulging in Flavors with Chef Candace
Thumbtack Customer
They were very attentive and the food was outstanding. Definitely will be using them again... Thank You Chef Mike and Chef Derek...
Cater~2~U Catering LLCCater~2~U Catering LLC
Thumbtack Customer
We had Chef Jen for an in-home private chef experience. Delicious food and presentation, and enjoyed having Jen part of our party. Would highly recommend Chef Beau's Klein Kitchrn for your next dinner party!
Chef Beau's Klean KitchenChef Beau's Klean Kitchen
Thumbtack Customer
Chef David is everything you would want in a personal chef and more. From the initial discussions surrounding planning of the event, to the final pull through of the event, everything was perfect. Chef David put together a well thought out menu for 11 guests for my Girlfriends surprise birthday dinner party. Each part of the meal was better than the previous and was topped off with an excellent desert choice. Needless to say, Chef David is my go to choice for personal chef moving forward! Highly recommended for any person looking at his services!
Lakeshore Private Chef & CateringLakeshore Private Chef & Catering
Al S.
Worked with Chef Candace for a New Years Eve dinner with a small group of close friends. From the beginning, Chef Candace was a consummate professional and very helpful in the planning process. Her delicious menu is flexible and she can cook to suit any needs. I highly recommend Indulging in Flavors to anyone looking for an amazing dinner experience in the company of a very kind and passionate chef. Thank you Chef Candace !
Indulging in Flavors with Chef CandaceIndulging in Flavors with Chef Candace
Thumbtack Customer
The food was amazing and the service was great! My friends and I had a great time with Chef Eric! I would definitely recommend this private chef service to others! Thanks!
Chef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef ServicesChef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef Services
Shane G.
Chef Mike and Chef Matt took care of everything. Great service, great food, and handled coordinating all of my bar needs as well. Hosted a party of ~20 in my home and we didn't have to think about a thing other than enjoying our company. Thanks Chef!
Cater~2~U Catering LLCCater~2~U Catering LLC
Jacqueline D.
Amazing food!!!... Chef Christian of Southern Ōpen Kitchen will be used by us again. He’s great to work with, very sweet and my friends loved chatting with Chef and couldn’t stop raving about his food. Thanks for a great experience!! I highly recommend Chef Christian for your next gathering :-)
Southern Ōpen KitchenSouthern Ōpen Kitchen
Shanell J.
Chef Richiee was great for our bachelorette brunch! The mac and cheese was our fav! All of his food was delicious and worth every penny . Would definitely recommend. Thanks again Chef!
ChefRichieeChefRichiee
Thumbtack Customer
The chefs were great, the food was great. It was an awesome evening!
Chef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef ServicesChef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef Services
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Rich is amazing!!!! This is the 2nd event Chef Rich catered for our Family. Both very different but both outstanding. All of my guests raved about the food and loved the pasta station. Chef Rich and his staff are the perfect combination of professionalism and congeniality. I would highly recommend to everyone and will definitely enlist his services again.
Chef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef ServicesChef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef Services
Eric A.
Chef and his team are very easy to work with and the food was wonderful!
Chef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef ServicesChef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef Services
Emma S.
Chef David did a wonderful job with my dinner event for co-workers. From working with us on creating the perfect menu to making delicious food on the night of, chef David was a joy to work with. Would absolutely recommend.
Lakeshore Private Chef & CateringLakeshore Private Chef & Catering
Paula M.
It was such a pleasure working with someone as professional as Ravi with Chic Chef Catering. He goes above and beyond to ensure that you and your guests are well fed and well taken care of. I will definitely be using Chic Chef catering again!
Chic Chef CateringChic Chef Catering
Gladys D.
Absolutely delicious, chef made my husbands 50th bday one for the books. He was easy to work with when it came to picking the menu, chef was on time, professional and the food was best than a 5 star restaurant. Thank you
ChefJayChefJay
Thumbtack Customer
Incredible! Incredible! Incredible! One of the best experiences anyone could ask for. Chef Rich is such a great guy and his food is phenomenal. I highly recommend him and will certainly be using Chef Rich again in the future! Thanks for an amazing night!
Chef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef ServicesChef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef Services
Sean G.
Amazing service and awesome experience. Highly recommend Chef Mancini and his staff.
Chef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef ServicesChef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef Services
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Karen was so accommodating for our unique event and she was terrific to work with!
TLC Personal CheffingTLC Personal Cheffing
Jasmine W.
Chef Jay is amazing! He made my birthday dinner a night to remember. Chef Jay came prepared with everything as discussed and even interacted with my guests. My family and friends truly enjoyed the appetizers, entree, and dessert. They could not stop talking about how good the food was last night. Thank you Chef Jay and I already plan to book you again soon for future events.
ChefJayChefJay
Fash K.
We almost had the event catered by Chic Chef until our planning team modified the vision for the fundraiser. The initial interaction with Chic Chef was professional and the food tasting went very well. For our next fundraiser they are in our short list..
Chic Chef CateringChic Chef Catering
Ryan B.
Chef Aram was wonderful. The food was SO GOOD and he was super fun to talk to and learn from! I had a dinner with my girlfriends and we couldn't have asked for a better chef. Would absolutely have him cook for us again!!
Chef Aram ReedChef Aram Reed
Shante D.
Chef Ron is amazing. I wish i could give hime 10 stars amazing excellent. Very professionL emaculent service and food was wonderful excellent craftsmanship. Will deff request chef ron again. Very satisfied overall wonderful experience.
Ron's Cuisine and CateringRon's Cuisine and Catering
Chris V.
We had Chef Rich and crew cater a 10 person brunch we had a great experience. The team was personable and the food was amazing. They left the kitchen cleaner than it was when they got to the house! Will definitely be using Chef Rich for any future events.
Chef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef ServicesChef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef Services
Thumbtack Customer
Food was great, service was amazing, Rich came through with an amazing private chef experience
Chef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef ServicesChef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef Services
Thumbtack Customer
I got 5 offers immediately and found a Chef which matches to my expectations
Chef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef ServicesChef Most Wanted Catering & Private Chef Services
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