Mom Wants Nanny to Cater Event...

Received Sunday, February 1, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I know this is a board for spotting nannies that are up to no good, but it is also the only place I could think of to ask both moms and nannies a question. My nanny is fantastic, the kids love her, my husband and I can't remember how the household ran without her.

Besides being a nanny she is also a fantastic cook. When she was young she said her parents ran their own catering business and everything just rubbed off on her. I am going to be entertaining some clients soon and I want to ask her if she can cook for us.

I am just not sure how to go about asking her. I have the menu all planned out and I think everything is within her abilities, we could go shopping together for the ingredients, I think that would be fun. My husband says she's not the boogey man and just go ahead and ask her. We'd be willing to pay, of course, I'm not sure how much however. All she'll have to do is cook, serve and clean up for one night. My husband and I will handle the kids, of course I don't know how to keep them from being under her feet since they love her so.

So how would you ask? How much would you pay?


Jenny said...

You totally need to talk to her openly about it, explain the whole thing, and then ask her what she thinks. She will probably come back at you with a very reasonable rate if she is as good and trustworthy as you say. ALSO, I would most definitely hire a babysitter for the kids on that night, or even arrange for a sleepover somewhere else if you can. No cook or server can be effective if kids are hanging all over her.

TC said...

It would depend on where you live, how big the menu is and how many people she would be serving. Maybe see if she has a friend that would like to help her?

You might try local catering places and ask how much they charge and base it on that.

I would also see if maybe a neighbor can babysit for you or hirer someone else to watch the kids so they won't be up under her the entire time.

Nom de Plume said...

Working with personal chefs in many of my jobs, they typically make about $50 an hour. Some of them are classicly trained, others are "kitchen" trained, but either way, they make the same amount. A caterer would charge you per head. It would be more if the party is small, say under 8 people. More than that, you may want to also hire a scullery person to clean up and also maybe serve.

jada said...

Well, the first thing that comes to mind, is that she's your nanny, not a cook. You're asking to put a lot on her shoulders.

I guess all you can do is ask, but I agree with Jenny - definitely have somewhere else for the kids to go if your nanny agrees to this. You should make this as comfortable and stress-free as possible for her. And, this goes without saying, I do hope you'll pay her well for the evening. You're asking her to cook, serve and clean up - that's a lot! I've seen Chef's make anywhere from $35 - $50 an hour, and that's only for cooking!

Let us know what happens. If she does it, let us know what you decide to pay her. :)

twinkiesmom said...

Mommy here, not a nanny...Why have you chosen the menu before asking her if she wants to do it? It doesn't sit well with me that you have this whole thing planned in your head without ever mentioning it to her...makes me think this is a nanny being bullied into more duties without having to pay going rate of professional caterer. Plus, what if she's exhausted from caring for your kids before this event?

cfg said...

I'm going to have to agree with twinkiesmom. Why would you have this whole thing planned without even consulting with your nanny about what she can or can't do. Personally, I think you're overstepping some boundaries here.

I'd fork out the money and hire a caterer. Let your nanny take care of the children that night. That is, assuming you don't have to ask her first if it's outside her normal schedule.

honest nanny said...

I think it's a great compliment that you would ask your nanny to do this for you. I'm almost certain that if she loves cooking and she loves your family she will say yes.

Just a few tips:
-remain open about the menu just in case she is uncomfortable with something on there.
- hire extra help to serve and clean up.
- have the kids being cared for by someone else, your nanny won't have time for them to be under her feat.
- pay her handsomely. I'd suggest finding the average rate in your area and raising it by $5-$10/hour.
- if this dinner takes place on one of her normal days to work you should give her that day off. you don't want her already exhausted from watching the kids when she needs to start making the food.

let us know how this works out and what she says! if she seems apprehensive or uncomfortable don't push it - you don't want her thinking you'll be disappointed in her for not doing it.

cfg said...

Honest nanny
That sounds wonderful and all, but I have a feeling that OP will not be wanting to pay her nanny $5-$10 above the going rate because it seems to me that she is trying to avoid the high cost of a caterer or professional chef by asking her to do it in the first place.

fox in socks said...

It shows that you think well of your nanny that you would like her to cater a party for you. However, it does seem odd that you have the whole menu planned before talking to her. Typically caterers plan the menu, or I should say, you would do it together with the caterer. If she's very successful this could lead to a career change for her!

Caterers do make a lot of money, but their bill includes the cost of all the food. So, it is hard to say what the nanny should be paid for this catering job. There should indeed be someone else on hand (that your nanny likes and works well with) who can serve, assist, and take direction from the nanny.

honest nanny said...


you are probably right. it was just a tip, whether or not OP takes it is her prerogative. i just think that if you hire someone in a close relationship to you like this (ie. nanny, friend, relative) you should pay them top dollar. but definitely just a suggestion.

former nanny said...

I also suggest you make it extremely clear that it is her choice whether she does this for you or not. Sometimes nannies feel they have to say yes to everything they are asked to do whether they want to or not an this is definitly way outside her duties. You don't want to be in a situation where she feels taken advantage of even when you have no intention of doing that.

nannyinmanhattan said...

I think its a fabulous idea for your nanny to make some extra money and get some exposure to your guests of her hidden talent.

I don't think the kids should be a problem if you give them something to occupy their time (a project or something) or just take them out while nanny is working.

Just ask her, (like your husband said, she's not the bogey nman lol) I'm sure she'll appreciate your thoughtfulness and confidence in her.

I too think its very thoughtful of you because you could easily just hire a professional caterer.
As for costs, get a quote from a professional, and work around it, be fair and all should be well.
I hope it works out!
Let us know how it goes and don't forget to send our plate.


Bam! said...

I must be missing something. Why should OP's nanny feel flattered? Because she's a good cook? Why do some of you make it seem like OP is doing her nanny a favor by asking her to do all of this extra work?

If nanny wanted to be a caterer, she most certainly had her foot in the door since her family had their own business. This is obviously not the path she took. She chose to be a NANNY.

oh well said...

All she'll have to do is cook, serve and clean up for one night, so you are not sure how much you should pay her? Yeah right.
I personally think it is terribly awkward to ask her. She will feel pressured into it no matter what you say. You could maybe ask her to prepare some special dish (and obviously offer her some gratification for that), but cleaning up and serving are off-limits. You sound cheap.

adriatic-sea said...

Some people seem to think the nanny is going to be offended or put off by being asked to do this.. Which I don't get.

I was a nanny for many years but when I stopped working for my last family after B started school, I began working in a restaurant and am now a manager for a catering company.
I'm not sure where you live but I'm from Idaho where the cost of living is low and I started simply working catering events for $25 an hour. Cooking and cleaning up for one night *sounds* like it won't be too difficult but it's a lot more work than you'd realize, depending on how many guests there will be.
I'd say no less than $30 an hour and consider a tip as well, assuming she'd be giving up a weekend night to do this for you..

I wouldn't be offended if my boss were to ask me if I could cook for a dinner party. I WOULD be flattered, knowing they were confident in my ability and trusted me enough to do this. If she loves to cook and is a genuine as she sounds, you won't have a problem. I'd be more than happy to say yes to a request like that. I would agree though, be willing to let her make some adjustments on the menu, if it's something she isn't confident with for whatever reason.

And.. make sure the kids are out of the way, totally. Don't let them even get the chance to be under her as she is cooking for you. She'll likely be nervous, cooking for you and clients of yours.. having the kids all over her won't be helpful.

NannyInCharge said...

I am a nanny and I would most definitely want to be asked to cater an event. Just make sure to tell her she can TOTALLY say no and she is not required to say yes. Have a ballpark in mind of what you think you should pay her. Maybe you could call a couple of caterers in the area to see what they are charging.

You can't ask her to do it for wayyyy less than a regular caterer would do it either.

Just compliment her cooking, tell her you have an opportunity that she may or may not want to take and guarantee her there will be no childcare involved. And yes, you will have to figure out a way to keep the children from bugging her. Sounds like it will be a busy night for her. If possible you should get a babysitter for the kids that night or have them go on playdates.

Afinebalance said...

hmmm....I don't think there is one right or wrong answer here. My nanny has made it perfectly clear that she would like to earn some extra money, either through additional house cleaning, babysitting at night, or working a weekend so my husband and I can go away. So I would feel pretty comfortable asking her to do something like this. That being said, even if your nanny is a great cook, she is NOT a caterer and it does blur the boundaries of her employ if she takes on this additional task. Will she be treated as a nanny who is also cooking for you, or someone who have hired to cater for you, who just happens to be your nanny.

Unless she has given you some reason to believe she would be interested in either to opportunity or the money, it could be a little tricky to approach.

In terms of money, I would pay the same as I would have pay for a caterer - it should be very clear that you want your nanny to cook because she is talented - not cheaper. And let her shop alone - no offense but it is YOUR party so it might be fun for you, but shopping for someone else's party where you are going to be a paid cook is more like work no matter how you spin it.

Vi said...

Dear Employer,
Let me make this suggestion and please consider it. Your children need to be otherwise engaged during this time. If you cannot be with them 24/7, hire a teen sitter to play with them. This was, your asking the nanny will appear as a true compliment, you are using her just and only for her cooking skills. Otherwise, it's almost like "I'm having the nanny help "me"" and trust me that will be insulting in a number of ways.

Maven NY said...

If you've already planned the menu, and you say you will do the shopping with her, I see no vote of confidence in the nanny.

My bitch of an employer used to leave me recipes all the time to make for dinner, but she at least trusted me to grocer on my own.

And is the nanny going to wash all the dirty dishes? Because that isn't catering work, that's bitch help work.

That's how I would see it. And having the kids running underfoot would make me want to throw boiling water on your face. So, think this is all through.

Your husband sounds narcissitic. He probably has a secretary or someone to do his bitch work all dya long and is used to it.

OP said...

I am the OP, my husband and I decided $30 an hour is best. I've already spoken with my mother to take the kids that night, she's more than happy to do so. I should say I really don't have a menu selected, just some ideas. I thought shopping together would be fun, now I am reconsidering it. We are around the same age, I know her well since she's been with us 4 years, I thought we'd have lunch then shop! Anyhow, this is all moot since I haven't even asked her yet. I don't want to come of as some tight wad, I want her to know that we enjoy her cooking very much and that I think she is great enough to handle this project.

Nanny Taxi said...

I would be flattered. Since I can barely boil water to make Annie's Mac and Cheese, this would never happen to me. It's good that you've made plans for the kids. I don't think that you are trying to get away with anything, and I don't get the comment about your husband being a narcissist, whatever.
Good Luck! :)

Kaitlyn and Daniel said...

I would definitely be upfront about the fact that you think she is a great cook, and that is why you are asking her, and not that she is a household servant. Do make her feel comfortable to say no. But I'm a nanny and if I had any cooking skills whatsoever I would definitely be open to it!

NannyInCharge said...

OP - I don't think lunch then shopping is a bad idea. But you'd be paying for her lunch and $30 an hour for her shopping time right?

chick said...

I'd double check what you're paying by calling some of the better catering firms and asking them about pricing for menu planning, preptime, cooking, serving and clean-up.

I'd also reccomend finding alternate care for your kids during all prep and cooking times, not just for the party.

And don't forget a healthy tip at the end of the night, plus the next day off if she's doing this for you on a work night!

Anonymous said...
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Abbey said...
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Abbey said...
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Abbey said...

I have never heard from such a bunch of up-tight people in my life! OP said her nanny is someone she likes and might enjoy spending time with! Don't most of the nannys freak out whenever there is a suggestion that employers/employees shouldn't mingle? The employers are always criticized as too high and mighty to socialize with the help.

OP admires her nanny's cooking and wants to offer her the opportunity to make some extra money by preparing a nice dinner. She thinks nanny can do a better job and will pay for it and hey, it may be fun to go shopping together for the ingredients. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT? Of course the person giving the dinner will set the menu, maybe the cook will tweak the courses. I doubt that a day of caring for kids, cooking, serving and cleaning up afterward and, oh my gosh, working the next day!, is going to exhaust Nanny, millions of women do it everyday! Why don't you all CHILL OUT and stop over analyzing everything and when someone just wants to ask a nanny to do something nice and fun, let her, without demanding a Congessional Stimulus Package before the Nanny can do anything beyond her 9-5 secretarial mindset. She should be grateful she HAS am employer willing to pay her for anything extra, who knows how long it will last.

cfg said...

Abbey, dear, please go get laid.

good grief charlie brown said...

I completely agree with Abbey. Lighten up everyone!

And cfg, your comment makes no sense what-so-ever. Abbey is the one saying "relax"- she's not the uptight one that need a lay. Think before you post.

cali mom said...

I totally agree that since a caterer would get paid for the grocery shopping time, nanny should as well, IF she agrees to do this. And it would be up to her if she wants OP to shop with her.

And Abby, OP isn't suggesting her nanny boil up some eggs and whip up a box of cake mix. Catering a dinner party is quite different than "cooking" as most "women" (and no doubt some men) do on a regular basis. AND, if she has worked a 10 hour shift that day already, the catering she is providing may not be as good as OP hopes for, AND she'd probably be entitled to OT pay, or at least the next day off, since she'd be working like 18 hours straight. Of course OP could approach this as insultingly as she wanted to, but the point is, she respects her nanny and wants her nanny to do this, IF it's something she feels comfotrtable doing.

I also agree that clean up (assuming you mean washing and putting away ALL the dishes, not just clearing the work areas and loading the dishwasher) is not the usual work of caterers. They would bring all the food on their own dishes and have a clean-up crew to wash them. So if that's a part of the deal, a generous tip WOULD definitely be in order. OP, is $30/hr the going rate for caterers in your area?

cfg said...

Hey charlie brown, Abbey came out of the gate jumping on several people that were posting very sensible questions and comments.
If you check the tone of her post against all of the others, it looks to me like she's the one who is uptight.

mom said...

Op, this sounds like a perfectly acceptable idea to me. Just find out the going rate in your area for caterers and offer her that...or else put your heads together and decide between the two of you what the time would be worth. (Make sure its a little on the high side. better to have good feelings between you after its over.) If you shop during her regular nanny hours, no big deal. Otherwise pay her for that time also. Make a clear agreement up front as to who will do the clean up so there are no surprises and nobody ends up feeling taken advantage of.
The biggest concern I would have, if it were me, is that nobody, including you, treats your nanny like "the help" during the meal. Some people do not have manners and feel teh need to treat servers as beneath them. Just be sure nobody like that is invited to your event...or warn nanny up front that so and so can be a bitch and you apologize in advance if she acts snooty.
Pay her well and tip her well, and thank her profusely several times afterward.

millows said...

"Pay her well and tip her well, and thank her profusely several times afterward."

I agree! as a nanny I would be flattered if my boss asked me to cater. As long as the wage is fair I dont see why this would be a problem. She makes extra money and gets to do something she is good at, you get a meal catered by someone that you know and who is a good cook. Who knows, maybe you will help open some doors for her in the catering business. I hope it all goes well. *** A tip is a must!

Delish said...

Geez, open some doors for the nanny in the catering business? OP's nanny grew up in a family surrounded by caterers, that's how she became a good cook and why OP wants to use her skills. If nanny wanted to be a caterer, she would be a caterer. She decided to be a nanny instead, why is that so hard to understand?

millows said...

hi delish ... do us all a favor and keep the bitchy attitude to yourself. Thanks :-)

mom said...

Yeah, nanny can say no if she doesn't want to do it. I'm sure OP will be very clear when she asks her that she is free to decline. And grandma and grandpa will take the kids out of her hair while she is doing the cooking/serving/cleaning, so it's not like she'll be working a ten hour day...and as somebody else said, how many of us have worked that long in a day before and still survived! There was a time when my kjids were small that I opwuld have thought I as really getting away with something if I was able to call it a day after just ten short hours! (And nobody paid me extra for any of it.)

OP said...

Well, I finally screwed up the courage to ask her and she said she'd be happy to!
We agreed on salary and tip.
She knows the kids will not be under foot.
She understands that most of the clean up will be rinsing and stacking in the dishwasher.
All she asked was that could she bring her MP3 player! She loves music and has introduced my kids to all sorts, no hip hop or metal!
I can't wait!
Thanks for all of your opinions!

perpetually amused said...

I just have to laugh at the following from OP:

She understands that most of the clean up will be rinsing and stacking in the dishwasher.

I am a gourmet cook and the least of my clean up is plates in the dishwasher!

I hope OP means that she or her husband will be washing the pots, pans, cutting boards, etc.

OP said...

Hi! OP again just looking online for some recipes while dinner cooks. I came back here to find a comment about dirty pots and pans and yes my husband and I have agreed to take care of those for her. Is that so unusual?
Now I am worried about the MP3 player, is that safe? She likes her music loud. The other day Kathleen Battle was thundering through the great room!

honest nanny said...

OP, about the music...

If she's planning on hooking it up to a speaker just remind/ask her to keep the volume at a reasonable level so not to disturb your guests. I'm sure this goes without saying and it won't even be an issue, but all you have to do is mention it - she's not going to go running for the hills. :)

i'm glad she accepted! sounds like it will be a fun and challenging project. i'm also glad you are taking care of the "heavy" dishes. good move.

mom said...

One more comment for the people who think OP was somehow presumptious for choosing her own menu. Ummm, doesn't the customer get to choose the meal, not the caterer? There might be something that nanny isn't comfortable preparing and then she can say, "I can't make that." But if OP has tasted something of nanny's she likes and wants nanny to prepare it for the party...well, that's customary, not to mention a great compliment.

PinkNanny said...

I would say it's fine to come out and ask because I think it will really flatter her cooking.

But I wouldn't have her do the cleaning up - maybe hire someone else for that. That's A LOT of work after all the cooking and serving.

Suzanne said...

The tenor of the comments concerning the amount of babying some people seem to think this Nanny will require to work an extra evening is unreal! OP was considering asking her to prepare a meal, serve and clean up. Wow. I am not commenting on this nanny at all, but rather on why some people seem to think this extra evening of work requires so much accomodation. If she wants to work an extra evening, let her do it, without requiring OP to hire a platoon of support staff, like she is having a state dinner. Guess what, many people do cook, serve and wash both the dishes and pots and pans!

Nurses often work 16 hour shifts in ICUs and come back in 8 hours and residents work 36-48 hours at a time in ERs. Other people run from job to second job to third job to home. Why assume this nanny is such a delicate flower she needs so much support to work one gosh darn extra shift! If this post's responses is illustrative of America's workers and their unrealistic expectations, we are all in bigger trouble than we know or will ever recover from. Also, if nannies are professionals, then act like it and step up to the plate for a little bit of a challenge.

mom said...

Very well said, Suzanne.

worlds best nanny said...

You are worried that your nanny/cook will be listening to Kathleen Battle too loud? I just Googled her, she is an opera singer for God sakes! I say if she's listening to that junk she is some kind of poser! And she has your kids exposed to it? Sounds like an ass kisser to me!

OP said...

Worlds Best

How dare you? My nanny is not a "poser" nor an "ass kisser" as you say! What are you? Some sort of nasty person? Please tell me you are NOT a nanny! My nanny studied voice for a bit then money got tight so she had to leave school and get a job and I was lucky enough to scoop her up. Yes she exposes my kids too all sorts of music. Kathleen Battle is beautiful! Here is an example of her work
Maybe you could use some culture!!!

jada said...

Thank you, OP. That was absolutely beautiful!

Kathleen Battle "Lovers" said...

Here's a video where you can actually see her sing the song... it's got so much more impact!!

Whatever said...

Junk? Kathleen Battle is just about The World's Best Soprano.

Seriuosly, Worlds Most Questionable Nanny, you need to give it a rest and STFU. You're almost always way out of line.

B buttons said...

World's Best Nanny is so falsely smug. It's more than apparent than she would only ever be self described as a good nanny. I bet she's been through employers like I go through Charmin.

And I likes me a clean patootey.

TiredGirl said...


What you are saying is fine as long as you are not the type of mom that treats her kids like little pampered puppies. Because they certainly won't grow up to be tough, hardworking folks like that!

Suzanne said...

No, my children are not pampered puppies. One is disabled and works very, very hard to get through the day and the other helps out a lot with her. If I ask my Nanny to work an extra evening, it would be just that, with no negotiation about me washing the pans to lighten her load. She would think I was crazy. When my employer tells me to work late, I do it and he certainly doesn't go through all this song and dance. Do people really live this way with so much agony over such trivial matters?

I attended a parent support group last night for parents of disabled children, and to lighten the mood, shared this post, and how much some posters felt needed to be done before this person could be asked to prepare this dinner and clean up and the negotiations needed over the division of labor. Their reactions ranged from amusement to disgust to pity, but no one could believe that so much drama was for real. However, it was good for a laugh.

Manhattan Nanny said...

OP isn't asking nanny to work an "extra shift". She is asking her to do something that is not part of her job description; cater a special dinner for guests. It would be like asking an editorial assistant to perform a puppet show for a client's children. She might think it would be fun, but you wouldn't take it for granted that she would do it without asking. (And supplying the puppets!)

Manhattan Nanny said...

World's best Nanny,

First of all, no you aren't!

I have avoided responding to your annoying posts, but dissing great music, I can not ignore. You are giving the nanny profession a bad name with your ignorant comments. You had to google KATHLEEN BATTLE, geez!

Mascha said...

You should just ask and specifiy what you would expect from her and the price you're willing to pay.
I recently had a nanny-turned-caterer cater an event for us but I hired her as a caterer (certainly did not pay nanny wages). I did it because we'd rather use someone we know, we love her food and we wanted to help give her newly started business a boost. We also asked our sitter to come - only she cancelled the last minute because she felt she had the flu, she did offer to come anyway for 2 hours or so but I didn't want to take the risk with all those guests and the children. -The children were very good, we took care of them ourselves, and they were of course not allowed in the kitchen where the caterer they knew as a nanny worked with someone she brought in to help. Safety first.
-Remember to tip too!

Where's the Love said...


Not really sure why you are so against this particular nanny in the post receiving the support she needs and deserves.

Maybe you are overworked yourself? What exactly does your employer ask you to do, stay late to organize his personal files and dust and vaccuum the office?

In any case, you do realize that a nanny isn't a housekeeper right?