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I am so FRUSTERATED....please help!!

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well, I just go home after dooing a banquet for 70 people. It was a plate up and a few wanted salmon while the other wanted prime rib.

So, I roasted the prime rib until medium rare which I thought was a happy medium for a banquet. We got a lot of requests for rares and one lady tod me that I should just cook them all rare. However.... if I would have done that, then a lot of people would send them back, wanting them cooked more.

So, I am not sure what to do. Cook a few primes medium and one or two rare? Is there a happy medium?

I know that it sorta depends on who you are cooking for. Younger crowds like rare/medium rare and older people (like tonight) like medium rare to well done.

I just dont know what to do.
post #2 of 25
Cut the joint into three & roast at different times to get rare,medium & well, try and get your guests to preorder if possible. You can always turn rare into medium or well so the larger joint should be rare.
champagne for my bad friends
& bad pain for my cham friends
(Francis Bacon)
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champagne for my bad friends
& bad pain for my cham friends
(Francis Bacon)
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post #3 of 25
Part of your frustration is just getting to know your customers, I think. Keep notes on what happened for this group, so the next time you'll be better prepared. And Mike's suggestion of having folks pre-order is excellent, if practical.

In your place I would "undercook" the roasts, because it's always possible to cook a portion more, but not to cook it less later. And with carry-over cooking, by the time you get one roast carved completely, the others will be done more.

So, will you be running a roast beef sandwich or r.b. hash special with the leftovers? ;) And how's the job going, in general?
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #4 of 25
Thanks Su.

Yeah dont let em get you down Issac, banqueting can be frustrating. I used to feed all the Masonic lodges in my area & they used to drive me crazy. For guys who are solicitors & drive mercedes they were terribly stupid when it came to common sense. They would frequently underbook & then have 10% more needing feeding on numbers between 30 & 150. Heck apart from using the spares I just made everyones portion a bit smaller!.

Ordering meals for 7.30pm & turning up at 8.45 wasnt unusual either,& if you plated 150 smoked salmon for 7.25 to go it becomes a cooling & space issue. The meat starts to break up,the veg sweat etc etc, Then lo & behols after serving 150 covers up to 5 courses in 90 minutes they start pestering you to leave the dining room because they want to start their ritual nonsense.

It does get you down sure but theres no life like a chefs life thats for sure. Have a cold one & start over.
champagne for my bad friends
& bad pain for my cham friends
(Francis Bacon)
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champagne for my bad friends
& bad pain for my cham friends
(Francis Bacon)
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post #5 of 25
I always cook primes, steaks, etc. on the medium side of med rare for banquets. Sure not everyone will be happy, but that at least minimizes the amount of recooks during the banquet. I have found that Med rare just causes too many problems too often. For that person that demands something more rare, I can often find one or two pieces that are a little bloodier and I usually have less recooks at that temp. Of course, if I am familiar with the group then I try to gauge things to suit them.
post #6 of 25
Isaac -- forget what I said; listen to Pete. He does that sort of thing all the time, and knows whereof he speaks. :talk:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #7 of 25
I worked in a steak house several years ago. We served quite a lot of prime rib. We cooked them all rare. When someone ordererd anything other than rare, we sliced the order and dipped it in a bain of simmering au jus for a few seconds. Never had any complaints.
post #8 of 25
That works great for a la carte service, but during banquets, especially larger ones, of 200 + people, having lots of recooks really throws a wrench into the works, not only does it slow down the entire party, but the logistics of trying to make sure the same piece of meat gets back onto the proper plate, then back in the proper servers hands, so that it gets back to the same guest really is difficult. So the best bet is to seek out a compromise that allows you to put out food that you are proud to be serving, yet will please the majority of the people in the party.
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
see, that is what i am saying. a la carte is simple....no problem but banquets can be tough as far as cooking meat goes.

Yes, you can try to get a count of who wants what before the party but people forget and change their minds.

its frusterating
post #10 of 25
I don't find banquets to be that difficult. In many ways they are much easier. Again, I can not stress the fact that banquet service is not a la carte service. In a la carte service you can individualize each and every entree to a person's taste, in banquets you are trying to please the masses. If you look at banquet service as a la carte service, you are just asking for headaches and trouble. Don't even think about trying to ask for temps!!! It will slow the kitchen down as well as the waitstaff. In banquets, the most important thing is timing. You want your entire party to be feed as quickly as possible so that no one is waiting for food nor do they have to wait forever between courses. And yes, food is secondary at most banquets. It is the event that is really the important thing, and food just becomes a "gathering point" around which it happens. I am not saying that you don't need to worry about the quality of food you are serving, you most definately do, but the point is, in a la carte service if my Prime Rib comes to me Medium when I ordered Med Rare I will probably send it back, but in a banquet setting (as a dinner) my standards are a little lower, knowing that they are trying to feed masses all at once that I will accept a Medium prime, though I would definately send back a Well done. Again I am not stating that you must lower your standards, but you must remember the idea behind banquets to to please the masses. That not only includes preparing great food, but it also includes getting it out to all the people in a very timely manner so that there is no lapse in service. And sorry, but under those circumstances you will not be able to please everyone, every time. The best you can do, for the good of the entire banquet, is to minimize your recooks.
post #11 of 25
We do recooks for prime rib in the bain marie method. I agree with bradleyo that the majority of my ribs are rare-medium rare and then over-cook as needed. I reserve the ends and the more well-done stuff for the medium+ cuts. If I'm know I am going to have a significant number of people ordering medium+ I will cook my ribs a little longer and start out at medium rare-medium to speed things along. From my experience, I get more complaints from overcooking, not undercooking beef, whether it be ribs or steaks. About the only complaint I have ever gotten from someone who orders well-done is that it isn't quite dead enough, not that it is tough or dry or anything that might matter.
On big banquets (for us big is @150, 8-10 per table)I will have my rib precut right before plating. As soon as we get an order for med+, we dip the rib in the jus. Well dones are ready to plate by the time the other plates are ready. I also have the waitstaff give me a count of all well-dones as soon as they finish taking the order. One of my favorite quotes seems to quantify banquets as well as war- "Long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror"..Good luck.
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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post #12 of 25
The first step to eliminating this kind of problem is to communicate with banquet sales. Nobody from the party should be coming to you and telling you how to cook anything. The person who eventually pays the bill is the only person who should have anything to say, and this should be said to the catering manager or banquet manager.

Right off the bat it the salesperson should have decided with the party coordinator how the prime should have been done. Then it should have been communicated to you and it should have been on the banquet event order.

Communication is very important.

Of course, you can cook it all to rare and do the lettuce on top, lettuce on bottom, microwave method :)

Kuan
post #13 of 25
And you can always blot the too-rare sendbacks with a filthy kitchen schmutta (sp?) and squeeze the too-mediums to get the last few drops of blood out, and then drizzle the juice from the pickled crabapple slices over it. And, if you open the oven door when you need that last rib, and it's as cold as death in there, you can put the whole rib into the fryolator.
It's not Dairy Queen.
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It's not Dairy Queen.
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post #14 of 25
TBH: the word is schmatta. ;)

But please, now, don't go teaching Isaac all those dirty little secrets! :D Besides, I always heard BEET juice. (Just ask Jim :lol: )
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #15 of 25

Heroic measures

Wow! You folks are showing me all these techniques that I haven't learned: deep-frying, dirty towel, you forgot to mention running it through the dish machine, beet juice. Silly me. I always put my effort in just getting it right the first time and saving all that brainwork....
And if the food quality suffers because of the number of people, my advice is to re-work your systems to stop the real problems- staffing, menu planning, etc. I could and still do not understand why the quality suffers just because the customers show up....
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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post #16 of 25

Re: Heroic measures

Sheeesh! Rookie! Shows how much you know. Dish machines are meant for cooking lobster only!

Kuan
post #17 of 25
Wow , the lettuce prime lettuce in the microwave brought back some memories .
Dipping in hot au jus another . And the beet juice saved my butt one time as a young chef . Through trial and error I learned how to do it the best way I have found . Count on 10 % of your customers to request well done or end cuts ( of course my favorite line to the wait staff when they request an end cut is that every cut comes off of the end ) . How to prepare your well done cuts is realy quite simple . The day before your banquet roast off 10 % of your prime to 120 and then store in the walk in over night . The next day fire your regular primes and roast slowly to a temp of 115 to 120 depending on size, and time these to be done 30 to 45 minutes before service for resting . Cover with plastic wrap and foil your precooked primes and reheat these to 140 and hold at the same temp . Now there is no more stress about well dones and the quality . This turns out to be the best well done prime I have been able to serve . And like suzanne said the leftovers are great . My favorite use is thinly sliced and used for the french dip sandwich .
Hope this helps , Doug...................
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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post #18 of 25

Re: Re: Heroic measures.

I know better too. Dish machines are only for reheats! Especially low-temps.....!
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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post #19 of 25

my 2 cents worth

in culinary school they taught that any beef product should go out at m.r. on banquets. here in kansas, yep, beef country, i'll shoot for mr-med. closer to med. it amazes me how many "cattle people" want med-well to well. i'd say cooking it to med should be a "happy medium" for 90% of your customers. (pun intended!
):beer:
post #20 of 25
Bighat...LOL...are you by any chance related to Anthony Bourdin
champagne for my bad friends
& bad pain for my cham friends
(Francis Bacon)
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champagne for my bad friends
& bad pain for my cham friends
(Francis Bacon)
Reply
post #21 of 25
Hey, Mike, we are ALL related! :lol:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #22 of 25
Darwinian theorist eh?....LOL
champagne for my bad friends
& bad pain for my cham friends
(Francis Bacon)
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champagne for my bad friends
& bad pain for my cham friends
(Francis Bacon)
Reply
post #23 of 25
The ideal situation is to have a prime rib where one of the ends is a bit smaller than the other. For a recent cater, we roasted two prime ribs that were shaped this way. We stuck the probe therm into the larger end and pulled the meat at 120 degrees. This left a beautifully rare end and a slightly more well done end.

And the whole thing's a moot point - frivilous consumption of beef will be greatly curtailed until the mad cow thing is settled.
Food is sex for the stomach.
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Food is sex for the stomach.
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post #24 of 25
On our contract we state that for 20 or more i do medrare-med.
"Your only as good as the people under you"
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"Your only as good as the people under you"
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post #25 of 25
Hey oh

Ok, as you are all aware, I am not a 'professional', however, I have attended a lot of banquets. And been on committee deciding on tenders for caterers.

Here in Canada, in Ontario, it is common to do 'roast beef' slices, which are always well done to a haze of pink when served to the table. When done buffet style, there is a carver and a single 100 or 200 pound roast and you can then request the doneness of the cut you want.

Another approach used on plates is to charge a 10 or 20 dollar primium on 'requested' cooks like rare or med-rare.

Far better is to offer meats that don't have a dozen different cook temps. Pork, turkey, chicken. A lot easier.

That way you get the choice A, B, or C chicken plate at 20 25 and 35 per plate (that was the average prices here about three years back... OK, been a short while since I last looked at banquet prices), and if it's steak add the 10 or 20 to that price.

Another thing that a lot of the catering posts bring up is the stunning lack of facilities when it come to a location rather than a hall. I was wondering, why? Really, why? Honda does a very fine line of low noise to noiseless gas generators that range in price from 600 to 3600 bucks US, and there are a lot of compact ovens and fryers that can easily be transported to a site. It strikes me as a worthy investment.
Space...the final frontier. These are the voyages of KeeperOfTheGood. His lifetime mission: to explore strange new worlds of flavour, to seek out new life and and ways of cooking it- to boldly grill where no man has grilled before.
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Space...the final frontier. These are the voyages of KeeperOfTheGood. His lifetime mission: to explore strange new worlds of flavour, to seek out new life and and ways of cooking it- to boldly grill where no man has grilled before.
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