Wedding and Event Catering

Find a chef near Naperville, IL

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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 Naperville chefs
Michael W.
Chef Richiee was responsive to my last minute need after another chef didn't come through. Chef's plan was fitted to my needs and preferences. My intimate dinner was beautiful and he got compliments from the most important person, the birthday girl. His food was delicious. He was personable, understanding, professional, respectful, timely, capable.
ChefRichieeChefRichiee
Cheryl H.
We enjoyed Chef Ron. Chef Ron was very responsive to our food requests, very professional and personable. His fees were very reasonable and worth the value. All the guest were very happy with the five course meal, especially the Birthday Girl where this was her gift to have a private dinner her home. We highly recommend Chef Ron’s services.
Ron's Cuisine and CateringRon's Cuisine and Catering
Alyssa F.
What could I say that captures ALL the wonderful ways Chef David made our anniversary dinner special - the food was exceptional! The conversation was easy-going! Amidst COVID & safety concerns, Chef David wore a mask the entire time and had our kitchen clean & organized with containers and utensils for everything. We will DEFINITELY be welcoming him back to our home in the future. Thank you Chef David!!!
Grand Personal ChefGrand Personal Chef
Dontrell H.
Everything was perfect. Chef D’Andre arrived early; came prepared with everything needed to fulfill my order, prepared the most flavorful food and drinks, for an overall 5 star in home service! I would give 10 stars if I could. Chef is worth every dollar he charges if not more. If anyone wants a spontaneous dinner or the highest quality of food, book Chef D’Andre. You won’t regret it!
Chef D’AndreChef D’Andre
Nikki H.
Chef Carol was a pleasure to work with! She was punctual and very professional. From the start of the event to the finish it went off without a hitch. We were running a bit behind on our timeline but Chef Carol was great and made sure everything was hot and delicious! The food was amazing and all of the guests concurred! I received so many compliments about this event I am sure to do it again in the future! I highly recommend Chef Carol!
Food with FlairFood with Flair
Christian C.
Great personal chef. Worked our dinner party, the group loved the food. Highly recommend.
Culinary AbstractionCulinary Abstraction
Thumbtack Customer
Fantastic food, professional presentation, overall an amazing experience. Chef David prepared a week of healthy meals for me, individually packed and ready to enjoy!
Grand Personal ChefGrand Personal Chef
Geralyn P.
Loved, loved, loved our experience with chef David and Lakeshore. The menu I selected was perfectly prepared and delicious. Our guests were very impressed.
Lakeshore Private Chef & CateringLakeshore Private Chef & Catering
Thumbtack Customer
We have been using Chef Dwight for 10 plus years now. From personal parties of 80 plus people in our home to business events that needed catering, I have always been able to depend on Dwight to bring a top notch level of professionalism as well as just the right personal touch to each event for a perfect result every time. Each event menu was designed around my specifications with helpful suggestions from Chef Dwight and met or exceeded my expectations as well as delighted the palates of my guests. I would not hesitate to call Chef Dwight for any type of catering requirements for myself and I highly recommend him to anyone needing these services.
Home Chefs PCSHome Chefs PCS
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Tammy could not have been better. The food she cooked was delicious. It impressed our friends and they still rave about our dinner party. When she was preparing the food she welcomed us to take pictures of what she was cooking and she answered questions we had. Plus, we were so surprised we had a clean kitchen with all the dishes washed when Chef Tammy was done. We wish she could cook for us all the time. We'll definitely hire her again.
TASTE, Personal Chef & CateringTASTE, Personal Chef & Catering
Nancy S.
Tasty Chef catered a great selection of small plate foods for an intimate baby shower in my home. Menu selections were varied and delicious. The home delivery & set up was punctual and made for a stress free party! Thanks to Alex and Tasty Chef’s great service & food!
Tasty Chef & Co.Tasty Chef & Co.
Priya V.
Ravi and his team really delivered the best service for my baby shower. All the guests loved the food and the staff member we hired for the event was very cordial and professional. I'm very happy with my experience with Chic Chef Catering and I highly recommend their services.
Chic Chef CateringChic Chef Catering
Thomas M.
Chef D’Andre created and executed a beautifully, delicious menu for my birthday dinner. It was a dinner party of 6, and he accommodated all “special” requests. Pleasing 6 people from all walks of life at once is no easy feat, but Chef D’Andre worked flawlessly to make every one feel special and important. The food was amazing - Lobster Bisque, Cajun Turkey, Red Snapper, Mashed Potatoes, Carrots, Lamp Chops and so much more. The food was delicious and cooked to perfection. My guest did everything but lick the plate. I could not have asked for anything more – it was beyond my expectations for this very special evening. D’Andre is a great and rare find!
Chef D’AndreChef D’Andre
Traci F.
Chef Bradley and Seth are a great team. They are young, eager, talented and professional. The food was amazing and the help and service at my party was a welcomed break for me. They delivered exactly what was promised and their prices were very reasonable. They came in with everything that they needed and jumped right in and started working and left my kitchen clean and organized. I will definitely use them again!!
Your Plate or Mine CateringYour Plate or Mine Catering
Jennifer Y.
This was my first experience with a personal chef and was very pleased with how stress free it was. Tamara gave me menu ideas and was very accommodating. She was punctual and arrived on time with all her supplies in hand. She cleaned up the kitchen and left it the way it started off. I did not have to lift a finger. Her food was also very yummy especially the ceaser salad and Ahi tuna. Thanks Tamara for a wonderful birthday dinner.
TASTE, Personal Chef & CateringTASTE, Personal Chef & Catering
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