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Losing sleep

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I am losing sleep over a catering job I have coming up in three weeks. Please help me! I've only been catering for a little over a year and this by far will be my biggest and nicest job yet.

I have a menu of crudite and tomato crostini for hors d'oeuvre, a potato & zucchini minestra for soup course, spring salad course, and the main entree will be a pasta dish of farfalle with shrimp, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms & pine nuts in a light cream sauce.

Here's my sleep loss. How can I prepare this ahead of time? The dinner will be a plated dinner for about 75. I rent my kitchen and it's not available to me that day until about 4:00 pm. The dinner is at 7:00. I have all the time in the world the night before. I'm not worried about the hors d'oeuvre, soup or salad, because that's all doable day-before. I'm worried about the pasta. Can anyone give me advice in how to prepare for this? Please, any advice will be SO appreciated!!!!
Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
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Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
Reply
post #2 of 20
You could precook dried pasta about 3/4 to al dente, dump it in cold water, drain add some oil so it doesn't stick then portion it and put it in the fridge untill the next day. Then all you would need to do is cook the portioned farfalle for a couple min untill done, add sauce and serve.
post #3 of 20
We add oil ( just a couple of tablespoons) to the water and pour the dry pasta through the oil into the boiling water. We find that's enough oil to keep it from sticking even after the rinse and it doesn't look oily. We keep or pasta in sealed plastic tubs and then warm it in the sauces.

My concern is actually your choice of pasta, farfalle is not very forgiving if you get out of step. It just flattens out and lays on the plate. My choice is always a heavy penne rigate. Takes a lot of abuse.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice so far. I will talk to the client about using a hardier pasta like penne. I don't think they will mind.

What about my sauce? Cream sauces are so delicate. Is there any way of preparing this ahead of time? They just don't seem to reheat. Also, How can I calculate how much sauce I'll need. I've figured for 75 people, about 12 pounds of pasta will be needed. Does that sound right? I figured out about 2.5 ounces per person and then just rounded up to the nearest pound.
Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
Reply
Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
Reply
post #5 of 20
Jenni, I don't what your recipe is or what your sauce base is.
I make my sauces with heavy cream per dish, per order. But I can tell you how I would start thinking about this. I would break my dish up, to assure the shrimp, etc. are evenly distributed. (I can hear all of you groan right now.) I would make my base sauce, split a portion off and slowly warm my shrimp in it. I'd warm the remainder of the sauce to toss the pasta in, keeping the heavy cream on hand, so I can stir more in if/when it seperates, it will come back together for you, just stir like mad. I'd plate the pasta, adding the shrimp count in the sauce to the top and garnish.
post #6 of 20
For 75 servings?

Jenni, get enough help and cook the pasta for dinner prior to dinner....that way it's fresh. Key is to have enough hands to put out the hodos as your staff is scooping soup, making salads.....There's 3 hours to make pasta...not a big deal.

I have a menu of crudite and tomato crostini for hors d'oeuvre, a potato & zucchini minestra for soup course, spring salad course, and the main entree will be a pasta dish of farfalle with shrimp, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms & pine nuts in a light cream sauce.

So make the crudite and tomato crostini goo the night before, bake off the crostini then too.....all you have to do is have a kitchen hand assemble just prior to service.

Soup, make day before, have garnishes ready to go.

Salad...ditto

Cut up your tomatoes, mushrooms, toast off the pinenuts. day before.
So what's the deal with the sauce, is it reduced cream or how is it thickened?
Which ever, you are either making it the night before or the night of....
Cook off your shrimp and have a scoop ready then to portion out.... have an assembly line....pasta, shrimp, sauce, pinenuts and wipe rim.....

Dessert hopefully is not involved. Make sure you have enough staff this first time so you're not sweating it. Come up with timelines for when things need to happen, make sure everyone knows their part in the production....have a copy for every worker.

You've got a kitchen......now envision cooking for several hundred without one.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #7 of 20
Is that 12 pounds of pasta cooked or uncooked? If that is cooked pasta that will not be enough. As for the cream sauce, what we used to do, when I catered, was make the sauce just before we left and put into thermoses. Kept it nice and hot (out of the danger zone) for many hours and we didn't have to worry about trying to reheat the sauce there.
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #8 of 20

Hmmm...one word (followed by a few more)

Multi-tasking...

>I have a menu of crudite and tomato crostini for hors d'oeuvre, a potato >& zucchini minestra for soup course, spring salad course, and the main >entree will be a pasta dish of farfalle with shrimp, sun dried tomatoes, >mushrooms & pine nuts in a light cream sauce.

Depending on the recipe, the crostini and minestra can be done ahead. Salads can be plated, wrapped and put in the cooler.

I'm wondering about agonizing over the pasta.

Are you doing the place settings, the decos, have help lined up, doing all of the plating/cooking yourself, or?

Pasta cooks fairly rapidly. I believe the ratio is about 2 oz uncooked per person assuming there are sides. Cooked veggies of some sort? (I've got a great recipe for hot italian cauliflower salad)

Assuming you don't have a ton of other issues in those 3 hours, it should be more than enough time to cook pasta...about 10 - 20 minutes depending on elevation. It doesn't cook one serve at a time. You have a big enough pot and enough energy to get that puppy to boil...

I think you might want to sit and do a time frame study of the event from the moment of serving and work backwards. How long it takes to prepare such and such, cook such and such...plate such and such.

I know it's nerve wracking, but just take a deep breath. (well...several) PM me if you want to fill me in and maybe I can help. I'm nothing if not multi-tasking.

April
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Okay, I saw the facility's kitchen last night. It consists of a refrigerator, freezer, two warming ovens, sink, ice maker, coffee maker and one 8 foot table for prep. And I'm not allowed any more tables. :rolleyes:

Thank you SOOO much everyone! This help is fantastic! I've really got a good idea of what I can do ahead of time now. I think I can handle the pasta and sauce in the 2 1/2 hours or so I have. I love the idea of the thermoses! Great one! And Pete, the 12 pounds of pasta is an uncooked estimate. However, I'm not serving sides with this. It's just the pasta dish. And it sounds like this won't be enough? How much should I alot for when it's just pasta? And I'm still not sure how much sauce to make. I'm so sorry. I'm getting much better at portioning, but I just have a lot of experience yet with pasta dishes. You guys are phenomenal! You have no idea how much I appreciate the help!!!!

As for help, it will just be me in the kitchen. I'll have help with the prep day before, but day of, it's just me. I can't even get my husband to help because I'll have him working on packing the truck for a festival I have the next day (which I plan for 300 for!). Ugh........So, in the kitchen, just me. I have four young ladies for waitstaff. Each will cover three tables. I'm trying to talk my sisters into helping me out so I have some free labor!! :D

shroomgirl, dessert became an issue just last night! The client wants me to handle the sweets and they want something classy, and they want three choices. They are agreeable to having a dessert buffet, so that helps me out. I can just set it up before the party starts. I don't bake, so I'm just going to talk to a baker friend to get them done for me. I'm thinking of doing cream puffs, fruit tarts and something decandently chocolate. If I did thirty of each choice, that should be enough for 70-75 people, don't you think?

Thanks again SO MUCH! You have no idea how much I appreciate this help!
Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
Reply
Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
Reply
post #10 of 20
Depending on how much "stuff" you garnish your pasta with, I usually go with 8-12oz. per person. Best thing to do is cook up about 1 pound of pasta and plate some up (no need to add sauces and garnishes). Fill the plate as full as you would want for the party, then weigh it to see how much you usually use. I also usually figure that pasta will gain 2.5 to 3 times its weight when cooked.
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
Reply
post #11 of 20
Jenni you have alot of food.....no need for sides with your entree. Bread/butter on table?

Who's doing the table setup?....linens, silverware, glasses? Who's doing beverages, coffee service? What are the options for those?

Are you having a bar with passed aps or stationary ones? what's the timing?

GET MORE STAFF FOR THE KITCHEN. You will need kitchen help with everything you have going on. Getting out hodos, ladling soup, if you plate your salad prior to service how are you dressing it? just over the top?
Rental Companies have cambros if you don't for the pasta sauce.

Make sure there's a dish area to put the dirty dishes, with all the dishes you've got....soup, salad, dinner, dessert, glassware.....having a designated dishperson would be good. Rentals or not.

Desserts....you've got a cream entree, so I wouldn't go with big ones.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #12 of 20
jenni belle,
I have not read all the post except for a few that call for oiling the pasta. Please don't do this. Keep it seperated with some type of ingredient that will be used in your sauce, if you're precooking. The oil will just coat all the pasta and will not absorb any flavor from the sauce.

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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post #13 of 20
2 warming ovens? Put your soup cups on a sheet pan and put it in the oven ready to go.

Dump your pasta in the sauce and dish it up. Use a plate or something underneath the tongs so you don't dirty the rim of the plate. Garnish.

There might be breaks in between courses. Who knows, they may do toasts and dedications.

Don't sweat it, you have lots of time.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
shroomgirl: Yes, there will be bread and butter. The bread will, initially, be part of the centerpiece, but it is for dinner later. This dinner is for the anniversary of the 25th ordination of a priest, so for their centerpieces, they were going to have bottles of wine and bread symbolizes the eucharist. I thought that was kind of neat. So, anyway, yes to bread & butter.

I'm doing the table set up, but that is no worries because I can set up as early as 9:00 in the morning for that! :bounce: There will be a bartender for wine & beer, however, I'll be providing coffee, tea & water.

The apps will be stationary. They are going to have a 45 minute cocktail 'hour' before dinner is served.

I am currently working on getting more staff. Both my sisters have agreed to help me, so this helps tremendously!

As far as quantities go, do you think I'll be safe with 6oz of uncooked pasta per person and 4 oz of sauce per person? I am going to take Pete's advice and do a trial run of the dish to weigh it, but I'm trying to just get a generalization before then.

Thank you guys again so much. This is really going to be my first big, elegant, prove myself type of affair and I REALLY appreciate all your help!!!
Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
Reply
Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
Reply
post #15 of 20
If your aps are stationary, get help from waitstaff on dressing and mixing plating salad....much better if done at the end.

Shrimp, what size shrimp? If you've got biguns count um, if they are littleuns scoop um....It'd be a bummer to get down to plate 72 and run out of shrimp.

I just did a timeline for this Sunday's gala, time of staff arrival, who does what jobs, when guests arrive, who lights the sterno, who ices the glasses, when/what the bar is doing, who makes coffee, timing of everything....then at the end where equipment goes. Some is from my company, most from rental. I have my own platters, serving pieces, chafers....brass wash tubs, etc.
So that someone does not put my stuff in the rental pile....I hate loosing spoons/tongs.
Schematic of buffet table and room. Less talking from me, good thing.

*Directions spelled out for the staff....including my cell number.

Don't forget tray jacks and trays. salt/pepper, cream/sugar/sweetner,
If you're using one table for aps then switching to dessert make sure you have a couple of napkins the same color as the table cloth so you can hide stains.

Voltives....buy um cheap at Michaels.

*most important part I make sure that communication is clear that the cost of the party does not include gratuity. Sun the coordinator already filled me in that the tip was good (seems as if we can't talk about money on the site anymore?!) And to add it to the after the event invoice. WOOOhOOOO!!!
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to thank everyone for all their help. The meal turned out fantastic. I had few problems. I had plenty of food and it all tasted great.

I actually lost a few servers the day of the event :mad: and couldn't replace them in time. It worked out alright though. My other staff busted butt and filled the void.

The only thing I hated was the facility itself. The dish washing area was grossly inadequate and there wasn't enough room in the kitchen.....particularly for a 5 course plated meal!!! Had it been a buffet, it would have been okay. The facility only allowed ONE eight foot table in the kitchen area!!!! It was insane!!!!!!!!

But we managed and the night was a success. Thanks to all who helped! I really appreciated it!!!
Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
Reply
Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
Reply
post #17 of 20
Fantastic congratualtions to you Jenni. A job so well done in spite of some reversals. Be proud of yourself Jenni, I am of you !!!
post #18 of 20
Welcome to the wonderful world of catering. The best part is that eventually you won't be surprised anymore and you will be able to handle any situation!
Congratulations and enjoy :smiles:
My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
Reply
post #19 of 20
...and now you knwo to add the pain-in-the-*** factor to events at that site...
post #20 of 20
Congratulations! It sounds like everything went very well and you should be proud!
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