Pricing a menu right is one of the things every chef or supper club host struggles with at some point. Price it too cheap, the guests will wonder if the portion sizes are adequate and the product you are using is of good quality. Too expensive and they go somewhere else.
Creating a menu that your guests will love on quality and price does not have to be hard. Most supper club hosts would like to create a menu that would cover their food expenses, their time and other expenses like electricity, washing up tabs and any equipment or furniture they might need to hire.
There are several strategies and tricks you can use to help the price and quality of the meal you are serving.
Seasonal produce is usually much cheaper compared to out-of-season imported produce. So create your menu around it and you will cut the price by nearly half.
If you run a supper club regularly or deliver any other type of culinary/foodie experience, establishing a relationship with your local suppliers is one of the most important things you can do. Not only you will be able to get what you need when you needed it, you can also ask for a discount.
Foraging is one way to get ingredients locally and free. It is becoming increasingly popular and used even by Michelin-star chefs. Not only the ingredients would be unique and local, but you can also add so many different flavours to your dishes the guests will appreciate.
Grow Your Own
If you have outside space or can grow even herbs on your window seal, this will help with certain ingredients. It won’t bring the cost down by much but growing your own means you control supply and freshness of the produce you put on the plate. So it is worth trying to grow a herb or two!
Shopping wholesale when you can is a good way to bring down the price on certain ingredients, especially those that don’t go off too fast. Think spices, grains and tinned fruit and veg.
Bear in mind that in most cases, you will need to have an account with cash and carry in your area or pay a membership fee (e.g. Costco).
If you have a sizeable following or a well-known supper club host or a chef, brands and businesses will only be happy to give you their product to serve or cook with. In many cases, nobody will throw the stuff your way, but you can ask. Be careful how you promote this to your guests and following. Think Guinness Stew, it is a pub menu staple in Ireland even though it creates a brand placement for thousands of those visiting pubs every month. However, putting the newest mixer into a pudding might not go down too well. Many will be happy to try something new, others will question your approach.
If you priced your menu and it’s costing a lot more than expected, swap expensive ingredients for cheaper ones. For example, brown rice for white, red onion for white onion and you can even swap lamb for beef depending on the market prices in your area at the time.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you maintain the quality and focus on your strengths when it comes to hosting. Creating a memorable meal takes a lot more than just creating a cost-effective menu that tastes delicious!
There is no wrong or right way to go about creating and pricing your menu. There are many variables that come into play – the size of the party, market conditions, other options and your guests. In the end, your guests will give you feedback if your menu pricing is fair or not!
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