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Dinner for 70-100

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
We have to host a graduation dinner for about 70-80 people (students, parents and some faculty). And want to have enough food left over to feed the help, maybe 10-20 more. We will have rsvp and know the exact numbers as we get closer, but I am trying to plan food qty & cost on $350 limit.

We are serving green salad, bread w/herbed olive oil for dipping, chicken vesuvio with potaotes and peas, and pasta con broccoli with a butter-garlic-white wine sauce.

I have hit a brick wall estimating how many lbs of pasta I need and how much butter/wine per lb. It seems like when I made it last I did 2 or 3 sticks of butter to 1 cup wine for about a lb of pasta? Does that even sound close? - I don't take good notes...

Also any tips on handling the pasta: cooking - keeping it from getting sticky- serving it hot (we decided on thin spaghetti - as I find angel hair near impossible to work with that qty) that will probably be served family style to all tables at once.

post #2 of 3
"The way" to handle pasta in that sort of quantity for holding is to slightly undercook it, put it in large aluminum catering pans, oil and toss immediately, sauce it (reserving some sauce for service), cover it with foil, and hold it in a low oven for as short a time as possible. Remember -- just a tad more al dente than usual. It's very much a "left over spaghetti" thing. Some people actually like the way the sauce bakes into the pasta. Others, not so much. In any case, remember to toss the spaghetti before serving.

You sound like you know your way around Italian-American food pretty well... A good rule of thumb for butter/wine sauce is to allow about 1-1/2 cups of sauce per pound of uncooked pasta -- or maybe a little more. In your case, you'll be saucing the broccoli as well, plus saucing the pasta before holding it, then saucing it again at service -- so let's figure 2 cups per pound just to be safe.

Quantities of anything per guest, as always, depend on the nature of the group. Firefighters eat more than bridesmaids. The rule with pasta as a side is 1/8 lb uncooked for light eaters, to 1/4 lb for heavy heaters. If you figure 6 people to the pound, you should be more than safe.

Figuring 90 - 100 average people total, that's 16 lbs of pasta. Figuring butter and wine as the only liquid ingredients (no olive oil), butter/wine ratio at roughly 2 butter to 1 wine, buy 12 pounds of butter (24 cups) and 3 bottles of white wine (14 cups). Figuring butter at $3/lb (semi-wholesale), wine at $3.00 a bottle, and pasta at $2.50/lb, you're looking at just under $70 for pasta, butter and wine.

Good luck,
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Wow. Thanks!

Sounds like a LOT of food. But your calculations make sense. Thanks also for the sauce recipe ratios. That helps a lot keeps me from having to do a trial run.

Any other suggestions are appreciated also!
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