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Find a food service professional near Alexandria, VA

Find a food service professional near Alexandria, VA

52 near you

Find a food service professional near Alexandria, VA

52 near you

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Top 10 Food Service Professionals near Alexandria, VA

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.

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 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 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 Alexandria food service professionals
Shayna B.
Food was great and professional customer service !
A Family Affair Catering LLPA Family Affair Catering LLP
Duane S.
Good and plentiful food. Good service and bar tending. Cleanup also good.
Chef Nikki S.Chef Nikki S.
Karema B.
Excellent experience! The food delicious and the service was amazing! Very professional. Thank you.
Pure Kitchen Culinary ConceptPure Kitchen Culinary Concept
Lisa S.
Richard is very easy to work with. His services greatly reduced my stress for the. The food was good. My guests commented on how friendly he is.
Clever Services and CocktailsClever Services and Cocktails
Thumbtack Customer
Such a great expierience. The food was truly yummy and Chef Matt personally delivered the food and put everything away in my fridge! I plan to continue this service as I am able to serve delicious meals to my family while spending very little time in the kitchen and more time with them sitting around the table.
Chef Matt Finarelli, LLCChef Matt Finarelli, LLC
Anushka H.
My husband's 50th Birthday party was a huge hit and our fantastic caterer helped to pull it all together. They created a reasonable bar and food package, included linen rentals and even went the extra mile to organize all my centerpiece displays on the day. They did a food tasting with us; which most of our visiting family participated in..all 12 of us. They got he thumbs up from everyone on the menu selections. Sandy was very accommodating to work with and became the glue that tied everything together which resulted in a seamless event. I loved that she stepped up as my event coordinator. All our guests raved about the food and service. We had a great time and would definitely use their team again.
Classic CateringClassic Catering
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Serge did an excellent job. He arrived on time and prepared a fabulous meal for me friend and I. He explained each course, the ingredients and how it was prepared. This was a private dinner in my home and we found his service and preparation of the food was exquisite. Excellent job Chef!!!
Pure Kitchen Culinary ConceptPure Kitchen Culinary Concept
Thumbtack Customer
We utilized Serge for an event at our Funeral Home Location. He was GREAT! The food was tasty, his demeanor and attitude along with his assistant was very pleasant. He was really easy to work with, and he handles difficulties well! I would use his services again for business or pleasure.!..........Jae Turner
Pure Kitchen Culinary ConceptPure Kitchen Culinary Concept
Jasmin H.
It was an absolute pleasure working with Chef Scott! From day one, he worked to help me create a specialized menu that would fit the needs of both myself and the guests. He played a large role in adding to the success of my event, and I was reminded repeatedly by those in attendance that the food was spectacular :) I look forward to using his services again in the future!
Chef Scott SunshineChef Scott Sunshine
Thumbtack Customer
Chef Paul was excellent! I threw a surprise birthday party for my wife that Paul cooked for and everyone was thoroughly impressed. We did the 6 course tasting menu and had so much food that we could barely finish the dessert, I don't think I ate the entire next day. We will absolutely be using Paul's service in the future, thank you Paul for such a wonderful event.
Chef Paul KennedyChef Paul Kennedy
Senodja S.
Chef Chrissy was outstanding!! We hired Exotic Chef Catering for an Open House last Saturday and without a doubt they were the star of the event! Presentation of food, tastiness, service, etc. All aspects were amazing! Guests were still raving about them days afterwards. Thanks Chef Chrissy for making the event a tremendous success! We highly recommend Exotic Chef Catering for your next function. We plan to use them again and again! Thanks!
The Exotic Chef (Personal Chef &Catering Services)The Exotic Chef (Personal Chef &Catering Services)
Tishanda M.
Had a tasting with Red Plated and was very impressed by the professionalism received. The food was amazing and we are happy and excited to book her for our upcoming wedding. ****UPDATE**** My husband and I got married on 9/26/20 and I wanted to take time to update our review to potential customers. Please note that the previous review was 5 stars due to the stellar service we received during our tasting. After we signed the contract everything seemed to go downhill starting with the communication. It was very hard to get a response with Kiara Colvin of Red Plated LLC. When I would send an email there would not be a response for three months later. We started sending emails and text messages to ensure a response. Additionally, we requested a follow up tasting to tweak the food and Kiara was a "no call no show" to TWO of the tastings we tried to reschedule in order to fix this issue. Lastly, the wedding day. My wedding planner sent out a timeline to all vendors well in advance and confirmed the arrival time of 2pm for our 5pm wedding with Kiara of which she agreed. I noticed when we did our walkthrough of the reception after our ceremony was complete that there was no food on the buffet tables but was not notified of the issue at that time. I found out after the wedding that our caterers did not arrive until 4:30pm. The food was lackluster at best which I am sure came from rushing to get everything prepared and there were many complaints that there was no cheese on the mac and cheese. As the bride who planned this wedding I feel we could have done better but our many attempts to secure a refund were refused. Future Clients: PLEASE read this company's contract thoroughly and ensure that there is a clause for you to get your money back if your expectations are not met. The contract I signed did not have a way for us to get our money back and we were not confident after the missed tastings that the caterer was going to deliver.
Red Plated, LLCRed Plated, LLC
Kelly Z.
We recommend Robert for your next party or get together. He came very well prepared, with all supplies (raw ingredients, pots and pans, knifes etc) and serving utensils. He spent time pre cooking hot items that he could precook. He was on time, professional, engaging with our guests. The food was delicious. All our guests were pleased with his service. Our serving table was never empty. Robert kept pace with out party; made sure it was well supplied. Before he left for the day; he cleaned counter and cooking surfaces. We will definitely hire him again
Robert CarkinRobert Carkin
Thumbtack Customer
Javier Zerpa, and his team at Key Ingredients Catering, exceeded our expectations. My wife and I chose their services to cater our rehearsal dinner at a private home in Alexandria, VA. Communication was excellent with Javier, as he was quick to respond to any questions we had, via email. He was also extremely accommodating when it came to tweaking the menu to fit our wants/needs. His staff was exceptional...nothing but professional, courteous and polite. The food they prepared and served was outstanding - our guests raved about the spread they enjoyed. We couldn't have been happier with our experience with Key Ingredients Catering, Javier Zerpa, and his professional staff. Outstanding!
Key Ingredients CateringKey Ingredients Catering
Willie S.
From the moment I reached out to inquire about services , she was quick to respond and answer any questions that I may have had. She made awesome recommendations and stayed in constant contact up til the day of the event. One of the things I admire most is her enthusiasm. She was so excited to provide service for this special day. She arrived promptly with a Sous-chef to my surprise and they were simply amazing. The vibe and mood seemed like I had known them all my life. Now let’s talk about the best part: the FOOD!!!!!! I am by no means a big seafood or sauce person but she definitely got me questioning my taste buds. The appetizers were perfect. The steak ,wild rice , and asparagus entree was even better.... I had never had asparagus that tasted so delicious. Last but not least the chocolate cake was to die for. We then sat around and chatted for a bit afterwards. I have now gained new friends and family with these two and I highly recommend them....
The Exotic Chef (Personal Chef &Catering Services)The Exotic Chef (Personal Chef &Catering Services)
Maki H.
Where do I begin. I was planning for a house warming event (BBQ style) for a group of 40 people so I submitted a request for catering on Thumbtack. I was a little worried that my limited budget would be a problem to work with any caterer but still submitted my request. I immediately heard back from Suzanne and a couple of other caterers. The other caterers I heard back from were not willing to adjust the menu to fit my budget. Suzanne was so accommodating and willing to customize my menu to stay and work within my budget. She communicated with me until the day of the event asking me about details and any requests I had. She even incorporated spices from my native country. She took the time and effort to learn about a special dish from Ethiopia and made it with perfection. My guests were raving about her food the entire night saying how delicious and flavorful it was. I would hire Suzanne for other events and would recommend her service to everyone I know. It was such a pleasure to work with Suzanne!
Food Matters, LLCFood Matters, LLC
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