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7. Tony Lawrence - Global Wine Chef
Top Pro
4.9
from 166 reviews
4.9
(166)
IN HIGH DEMAND
  • 17 years in business
  • 267 hires on Thumbtack
" My fiance and I went on thumbtack, looking for a personal chef to do our wedding. Of all the chefs who responded to us we were immediately impressed with how professional and thorough Tony was. Whereas others who contacted us simply gave us a price range based on our number of guests, Tony supplied us with some examples of menus from previous clients, but also assured us that what he would prepare for us would be specifically customized to meet our needs. He came to our home for an initial consultation, and we immediately hit it off. He was personable and professional. We discussed the menu as well as the logistics; including a tent, tables and chairs, dinnerware, and decorative flowers. We were relieved when he told us that he would take care of all of those things if we wanted, and he did, except for the flowers. (Although he did supply flowers for the tables and even offered to find someone to perform the ceremony) The affair was to be an intimate dinner with seventeen guests and we planned to have our wedding at home in the garden. We decided where the food would be prepared as well as the dining and serving tables. The menu we agreed upon was eclectic, with an international theme. It would consist of a five course dinner with a wine pairing with each course, and a cocktail hour before the first course. From the start, we loved how it sounded and we were eagerly anticipating seeing and tasting everything. Incidentally, he also made another trip to our home weeks later when we were having second thoughts about how to set everything up. The day of the wedding Tony and his staff arrived promptly. The rental tables, chairs and dinnerware had arrived the previous afternoon. After the ceremony and some photo taking was the cocktail hour. The hors d'oeuvres were all delicious and beautifully presented, and so were each of the five courses to follow. The staff was professional and courteous and their appearances were tasteful. The table settings were elegant, and exactly what we had wanted. The quality and freshness of the food was outstanding. The third course, grilled Pacific salmon and pan seared Chilean sea bass, drizzled with a strawberry citrus sauce was one of the most delicious dishes I ever had in my fife, and the salmon was grilled absolutely perfectly. If I had to find something less than desirable, I would say that there was one server who most guests agreed was not very friendly but she may have just been nervous. As for the food, there was an Australian grilled boneless leg of lamb which was a little overcooked for my wife and my tastes, but our guests had no complaints. However in all honesty, to find negative aspects of the entire experience I'm reaching somewhat, as the overall experience was simply amazing and all the things we loved about it far outweigh the aforementioned mild disappointments. It exceeded our already hopeful expectations. Furthermore, the price was definitely reasonable. When one of our guests inquired about the cost per plate (not including rentals) he was astounded that it did not cost much more. Finally, all of our guests raved about the day to no end and many of them said it was the most elegant wedding they had ever attended. I'm quite certain some of them will be contacting Tony for an event of their own. "
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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 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.

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.
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