Wedding and Event Catering

Find a chef near Philadelphia, PA

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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.

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.

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 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 Philadelphia chefs
Ed l.
Chef Moise cooked an amazing dinner My wife a l had a great experience in our home Thanks Chef Moise
Chef MoiseChef Moise
Brittni G.
Amazing . Hired chef donna to be private chef for my rehearsal dinner the night before my wedding . So happy I did
Thumbtack Customer
I hired Chef Tony July 11th, for my 5th year wedding Anniversary. It's really hard to formulate into words how spectacular and memorable my Anniversary night was thanks to Chef Tony. Chef Tony helped me plan the surprise dinner for my wife, and executed the perfect five course meal with wine pairing. You can really tell Chef Tony enjoys what he does. The food was just ridiculous! Full of favor and creativity! One week later, and my wife and I are still talking about what an amazing night it was. I would highly recommend Chef Tony! After my experience with Chef Tony, I feel like everyone should experience a personal Chef with there significant other at least once. And no one better for the Job than Chef Tony in my opinion. I will definitely use him again! Wish I could post pictures.... Thanks again Chef! Quinton W.
Tony Lawrence - Global Wine ChefTony Lawrence - Global Wine Chef
Carleen R.
Loved the Chef! On time, food was awesome!
Ma'idah Catering Co.Ma'idah Catering Co.
Jorge c.
It was our pleasure to have Chef Moise as our personal Chef for a special day. The experience was nothing like we have experienced before. We recommend hiring her and will definitely use her services again. Thank you Chef Moise for making our day extra special.
Chef MoiseChef Moise
Charles R.
An absolute professional, Chef Lawrence is wife and our guest was highly impressed and full from the delicious menu, the wines Chef used to pair with was simply awesome!!!
Tony Lawrence - Global Wine ChefTony Lawrence - Global Wine Chef
Dipan P.
Chef Robert was great. All my guests loved him.
Robert Crawford & Associates Inc.Robert Crawford & Associates Inc.
Thumbtack Customer
We celebrated our 31 wedding anniversary by having Chef Tony prepare our dinner. Our celebration took place on April 30, 2014, the day it rained cats, dogs and cows! Chef Tony was on time regardless of the severe weather issues. He prepared an exemplary five course meal,with each course accompanied with a great wine. It was like having "Food Network" with the most personable Chef in your home live! What a great memorable experience, which we plan to repeat with Chef Tony again!
Tony Lawrence - Global Wine ChefTony Lawrence - Global Wine Chef
Stacy C.
Chef Moise came to my rescue for my husband's 35th birthday!!! She did such a tremendous job!!! The decor, food and experience was amazing!!! My husband was truly surprised and as a pregnant woman, I did not have to worry about anything with Chef Moise. This was my first private chef experience and believe me it will not be my last!!! Thank you so much!!!
Chef MoiseChef Moise
Dee B.
Chef was personable and the food was amazing!! Will definitely be acquiring his services again!
Full Plate CulinaryFull Plate Culinary
Rita F.
Chef Anton was absolutely amazing from our first phone call through our last! I hired him to treat my father for his 90th birthday. The food was delicious, fresh homemade and beautifully presented and served. The portions were perfect and Chef Anton packed up the leftovers for a second meal! My dad loved the whole experience! Chef Anton made my Dad’s birthday a celebration to remember! I would definitely recommend Chef Anton and plan to have him back for my soon to be husband’s birthday!
Feast CatererFeast Caterer
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Tony is absolutely amazing chef. The way the flavors danced on my palate was wonderful. His ability to pair both wine and champagne with each course added an additional pleasantly unexpected depth of flavor to the course it was served with. Not only was I treated to a delicious day of food, but I also received a little education on wine and wine pairings as well as a bit of culinary instruction. We shared thought provoking conversation while Chef Tony created his succulent offerings. When it was all said and done I had a happy full belly and extra food to snack on throughout the evening. I can't wait to hire Chef Tony for my anniversary dinner surprise for my husband. Bravo Chef Tony.
Tony Lawrence - Global Wine ChefTony Lawrence - Global Wine Chef
Thumbtack Customer
I contacted Chef Anton for a one time personal chef session for a birthday dinner (2 people). I spoke with him about pricing and made the decision to hire him with about a week to spare, which he assured me wouldn't be a problem. Chef Anton exuded confidence and professionalism, and not to mention he delivered a DELICIOUS meal. My boyfriend and I were truly impressed (and stuffed!). In addition to the remarkable dinner and dessert, we had the pleasure of speaking with Chef Anton about his extensive experience in the food industry. Chef Anton made this a night to remember for the both of us, and it most certainly won't be the last time that he'll hear from us. I could never thank him enough!
Feast CatererFeast Caterer
Uriah W.
The most incredible experience ever. If you are looking for a personal chef look no further.
Full Plate CulinaryFull Plate Culinary
Shonna B.
Chef Martel was on time and very pleasant. The food was awesome and delicious. It really had a great taste. Me and my husband loved the presentation. Thank you so much Chef Martel. I will be referring your company to all my friends and family.
Full Plate CulinaryFull Plate Culinary
Thumbtack Customer
First let me start off by saying the entire experience with chef Tony was phenomenal. I treated my awesome wife to her first in home personal chef experience for her birthday. Chef Tony provided everything from table dressings to cleanup. My wife had a delicious stuffed lobster while I enjoyed a wonderful filet mignon. We had about 4 courses all delicious. He was very accommodating with the menu and very personable during the dinner. Highly recommend him and can't wait to book his services again. Thank you again Chef Tony!!!
Tony Lawrence - Global Wine ChefTony Lawrence - Global Wine Chef
DeLacy H.
Our company reach out to Chef Jimmy to assist with preparing food samples for a 3 day trade show. Chef was very accommodating to our needs. He was a great addition to our team and cooked our samples perfectly. He even took it upon himself to create a new recipe which we used at the show. You can't exhibit in Philadelphia and not serve Cheesesteak! We look forward to working with Chef Jimmy in the future.
Chef Jimmy Floyd “The Dinner Party Whisperer”Chef Jimmy Floyd “The Dinner Party Whisperer”
Kla m.
Chef was great he really helped me out alot figuring out the menu & just making my entire experience a night to remember the food was outstanding chef's kindness & patience was greatly appreciated I will be doing business again thank you so much.
Dmitrianna LLCDmitrianna LLC
Elaine M.
Chef Anton did great catering for my son’s college graduation party at my home.
Feast CatererFeast Caterer
Guy L.
I advise everyone to hire this chef. Her cooking is soooooooi Good no Bs. If you don’t like it I’ll pay for it that’s how confident I am in her. Very welcoming and fast . She needs to be on the cover of a magazine or chef for Oprah or something that’s how good she is.
Chef MoiseChef Moise
Trin M.
Well, i am only allowed to choose three “reasons” on this app for why i enjoyed working with Chef Cardel, but I would like to point out that aside from just work quality, professionalism, and responsiveness, the value and punctuality was also great ! Chef Cardel provided THEE BEST experience. From the plating of the food, the explanation of the meal, the conversation about food in general, to the FOOD ITSELF, EVERYTHING was amazing !! I can’t wait until another occasion so that I can hire Chef Cardel!!
Dmitrianna LLCDmitrianna LLC
Jules n.
Look no further if you're planning a dinner party and want beautifully plated, delicious food from a private chef. Chef cooked 6 of us a wonderful 5 course meal. He was very communicative and responsive through out. I will absolutely hire him again for my next dinner party.
Starving chef servicesStarving chef services
Kevin s.
I had such an incredible experience with Chef Moïse! From our initial contact she was beyond helpful in helping create the menu for the evening, although I don’t think there would have been a wrong choice. The food was incredible!! We had roasted chicken half’s, lobster Mac and cheese (OMG!!), garlic green beans, Cesar salad, cornbread, and finished with the most amazing gooey fudge brownie desert. The presentation of the food and table setting was perfection! I would recommend Chef Moïse to anybody looking for amazing food from an amazing chef. I also think it’s important to note that as a gay couple it was great to have an LGBTQ+ chef who welcomed, accepted and helped celebrate our love.
Chef MoiseChef Moise
Kyle M.
Chef Tony prepared a fantastic meal for 9 adults and 2 children. It was a dinner for a small wedding that we held the dinner in an air bnb. He came prepared and we did not have to lift a finger. Very personable and knowledgeable about the wines he paired with our courses. Great food! Thanks Chef!
Tony Lawrence - Global Wine ChefTony Lawrence - Global Wine Chef
Robert p.
Had a great experience with chef tony excellent food and wine pairing the conversation was spiritually uplifting thank you for your excellent service you have made me and my wife's anniversary one of the best ever and I would recommend him to all family and friends my first personal chef and it really was worth every dollar
Tony Lawrence - Global Wine ChefTony Lawrence - Global Wine Chef
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