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Find a chef near Durham, NC

Find a chef near Durham, NC

18 near you

Find a chef near Durham, NC

18 near you

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Top 10 Chefs near Durham, NC

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 Durham chefs
Terri A.
Chef B was great!!
The Grand Services, LLC.The Grand Services, LLC.
Crystal N.
I decided sort of last minute to have a private chef to come into my home for Mother's Day. I wanted to relax in my home, but have restaurant quality brunch and dinner. I sought private chef options through Thumbtack and I chose Chef Nico....and boy am I glad I did! Chef Nico is extremely professional but very personable which is important to me. His dishes were so creative, elegantly presented and absolutely delicious! Each dish was an amazing culinary experience. I will definitely be hiring him again!
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Ken was extremely prompt, professional, pleasant, clean, & skillful!!! The first dish was a surprise to us all, because we'd never heard of it, nor had we tried it, but it was mouth watering. We loved this experience & by all means will be calling Chef Ken again. Chef Ken this is truly your talent and you have to be as good as they come!!!! I HIGHLY recommend him to anyone reading this review & I will personally recommend you to others as well!! THANK YOU, for making this a night to remember😄😄
Chef Ken's CateringChef Ken's Catering
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Nico drove up to our house in Durham for a holiday party of 20 guests. He was entirely self-sufficient in our kitchen, preparing a diverse, elaborate 3-course meal that kept guests in awe of his talents. Nico is very professional, detailed and responsible, all of which I wanted in a chef for this important event.
Chi H.
Ema was absolutely wonderful. The food was excellent! She was kind enough to teach us how Beef Wellington is made. We loved her stories as a chef!
Em’s CateringEm’s Catering
Al L.
My family and I really enjoy Chef Zacki's cooking, It is ALWAYS HOT AND FRESH, The presentation is Excellent!! Most of All the food tastes MARVELOUS!!!! I couldn't have a made a better decision in choosing a Chef. The only down side, my family likes her cooking better than mine, so now I can't let her go!!!!! I recommend her to anyone!!!
Zacki's Culinary CreationsZacki's Culinary Creations
Monique D.
The Tasty Alternative- Chef Veronique was nothing less of wonderful! Five amazing courses, beautiful presentation, and professional etiquette all surpassed my expectations for a beautiful romantic evening. She was very easy to get in contact with and responded with details. Her personality was warm and friendly and it was pleasure having her as a personal chef for a very private intimate dinner in my home. I'm looking forward to planning our next event and using her services!
The Tasty Alternative - North Carolina DivisionThe Tasty Alternative - North Carolina Division
Thumbtack Customer
The service for Blackwater Creek Catering is outstanding, very professional and punctual. My clients were pleased with his prices and flexibility. S&S Creations highly recommends the service of Chef Lee.
Blackwater Creek Venue and Destination  CateringBlackwater Creek Venue and Destination Catering
Thumbtack Customer
Lamar worked with my husband to create an unforgettable experience for our 5 year wedding anniversary. 5 years is the "wood" anniversary, so Chef Lamar setup a candlelit dinner in the woods at a nearby park. He had rose petals leading down the trail to the table. He plated each of our 5 course meals on wooden dishes, to keep with the theme. The food was PHENOMENAL! I can't say enough great things about Chef Lamar and his assistant Stephanie. Well done!
Taste' Personal Chef ServicesTaste' Personal Chef Services
Mike R.
Chef G Harvey and I came on board with my concept of a small gathering for my wife's 50th birthday. Well, as time went on the party grew and I grew more nervous as the date drew near. Chef G was the calming voice that assured me that the day would be perfect and I assure you that it was. His professionalism, delivery work ethic, and enthusiasm came through from start to finish to help make wife's day and our guest experience a time that they will always remember. Mike Rempson
Catherine K.
We hired Chef Zacki for an employee anniversary lunch that celebrated 4 people on our team. Chef Z was very responsive from the start and was super easy to work with. We are in an office with limited kitchen equipment, and she was able to maneuver that while also being flexible with our numerous silly requests (ex: see one of our staff members wearing a fake mustache). Our team had so much fun with her and the food was AMAZING. I would highly recommend hiring her for any occasion - she can do it all!
Zacki's Culinary CreationsZacki's Culinary Creations
Thumbtack Customer
For New Year's Eve dinner we were lucky to find this talented chef. The meal was prepared nicely and the main course was served buffet style with a lovely presentation. Zacki strengths were her attention to details in planning and her professionalism.
Zacki's Culinary CreationsZacki's Culinary Creations
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Nico was amazing! He was super personable and professional, and his unique dishes were DELICIOUS! He went above and beyond to make our experience what we hoped it to be. My husband and I are so happy we were able to work with him!
Kellie W.
I have nothing but positive things to say about Chef Kingsley. She made sure my Mothers 60th Birthday dinner was amazing. Her professionalism and food were outstanding. She came into my parents home, and provided nothing but quality... QUALITY SERVICE and QUALITY FOOD!
A Taste For... LLCA Taste For... LLC
Thumbtack Customer
Zacki was WONDERFUL! Once we hired her, we had to change the date back by a week. Zacki worked with us and we had a wonderful dinner on the 5th instead of the 13th. We were celebrating my son completing his college applications - he's a beginner chef and loved working with Zacki on the dinner. She was kind enough to let him "tag along". I would definitely recommend Zacki to my friends!
Zacki's Culinary CreationsZacki's Culinary Creations
Courtney J.
Do yourself a favor and look no further than Epps Bistro for your personal chef experience! Terique is the best. Hands down. He is quick to respond, takes his time planning a menu according to your likes and allergies, and works with you according to your budget. He was on time, actually early, to cook for us. And the food! You're in for a treat. We had steak, salmon, and shrimp and grits. All three of these entrees were cooked to absolute perfection! We also had the mac and cheese, which is delicious. Terique not only cooked for us, but talked to us about the history of the city we were visiting (Durham, NC). After cooking, he cleaned the kitchen and left it cleaner than it was when he got to the house. Overall, Terique is the bomb! We will definitely reach out to him again for his culinary expertise!
Epps BistroEpps Bistro
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