[Sca-cooks] Current farm prices and affects on feast budgeting

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Mon Feb 18 15:30:20 PST 2008

On Feb 18, 2008, at 5:52 PM, Terry Decker wrote:

> My suggestion is take one of your old feast budgets and redo the  
> pricing as
> a comparison.  Invite anyone who disagrees to do the next feast to  
> your
> standards for the price they suggest.  It makes for interesting  
> theater.

While that's a good idea in theory, I expect most cooks would be told  
that their standards are impossibly high and/or that they're  
cherrypicking for faults in such a feast. In the end, no matter what  
route you use to reach the conclusion, it will most likely be a lack  
of caring about the role of food in the event, except in the broadest  
possible sense which does not extend to high quality of a more period  
structure or atmosphere being worth paying extra for. And while I'm  
not suggesting that something like periodicity costs more, I am  
suggesting that a larger budget does appreciably broaden one's set of  
options, generally.

> I think a number of us have been keeping prices down by letting the  
> rising
> costs eat into the margin of profit or looking for cheaper  
> alternatives.  If
> the percentage of increase in expenses continues as it is, then those
> methods may not be feasible much longer.  Most of the groups I know  
> have
> been dealing with the rising cost of site and events, so it is time  
> to start
> educating people about what it is going to cost to do a feast.

All true, IMO. Another consideration is that when a large percentage  
of the cook's time is in generating added value to the raw ingredients  
(say, boning out whole chickens, home-curing inexpensive meats, making  
sausages, etc.), you need to compare what you spent on that flat of  
broiler/fryers to what you'd spend on boneless chicken meat, or even  
chickens boned out by a high-end butcher, or sausages made to spec by  
a quality butcher, instead of, say, Johnsonville Brats or Hillshire  
Farms (bleah!) or whatever. You then point out that the reason why  
you're doing this is as a contribution to the success of the event and  
the group in your capacity as a Nice Person of Some Skill. Point out  
that being met halfway as raw ingredient prices rise, is only fair,  
and when discussing plans before an event, try to settle reasonable  
compromises as to where cuts can be made, and what the ramifications  
will be. If your group really just wants a big pot of stew and bread,  
you can do them a fine one, but there's really not much that's  
especially medieval about such an approach, especially for some of the  
clothes-horses (no disprespect intended) that attend some events.

For some reason I'm always reminded, in discussions like this, of Tony  
Shalhoub's rant in "Big Night", where they're discussing the removal  
of the seafood risotto from the menu, and he suggests they try  
serving... " 'ow you say... 'ot dog? 'Ot dogs?" instead... because,  
you know, it's-a less money and the people will like it...


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