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$1,000 a plate dinner - help!! What would you serve?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I have been asked to do a couple events for a political fundraiser in July. One is a reception and one is a dinner - same day! The reception will cost $250, and the dinner will be $1,000 a plate. Yikes!

I obviously won't get most of the money as these are fundraisers, and I am doing this pretty much at cost, but I am at a loss to figure out what to serve for this dinner. Does anyone have any ideas? The dinner will be for about 40 people, and the reception for 100.

Please keep in minid that I am in Mexico City, so I don't have access to a lot of the ingredients that are common in the US, such as beautiful heirloom tomatoes, unique vegetables, etc. But I do have access to good cuts of meat.

Off the top of my head I am thinking almond-crusted salmon and beef tenderloin with red wine reduction & wild mushrooms. But, then I am thinking that since this is a political person from the US, maybe I should showcase Mexican food. The food has to be great, but the main attraction is the speaker, no?

I am really confused. ...oh, yeah - and scared &*&$&%-less! :eek:

Any ideas? Thanks!
post #2 of 18
When I hear red wine reduction I think of France and Italy not Mexico. When I hear salmon I think of the Pacific northwest i.e. western USA and Canada, not Mexico.

If I were in your shoes I would offer up the best local/native foods Mexico has to offer, unless of course the host/hostess asked for something different.

Dorado, grouper and wahoo come to mind for fish. I think tuna is also caught off Mexican shores. Also you might try some of the freshwater bass. Apparently Mexico has some good bass fishing.

Maybe you could do a Google search on Rick Bayless. He apparently does upscale Mexican cuisine which may give you some ideas.
post #3 of 18
take a fillet of the freshest fish you can find and place on a soft tortilla, squeeze over some lemon, fresh coriander and a little chopped serrano, wrap burrito style and lay in a dish with fresh chopped limes, chillies and 2 tbsp of honey per piece, pour in some tequila and bake for about 5 minutes in a hot oven, say 250c... for a fancy dinner, trim to a nice cut, stand up and drizzle the sauce over , sprinkle maybe a really fresh zingy salsa.. it is delicious.
"One can learn to cook, but one is born a Chef." Balzac
"One can learn to cook, but one is born a Chef." Balzac
post #4 of 18
Ask the sponsers of the dinner what the budget is for the event. They will have a number that reflects what they want ot raise for the "cause." They will tell you if they are footing the cost as donation or if the expense will come from the proceeds.

And ask them the make-up of the guests. Are they visitors that will consider the local food an adventure or ex-pates that will enjoy your salmon and beef from home?
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
OK, I think I have worked out the menu. I have decided to go with traditional Mexican with flavors from all over the country.

So, far:

Appetizer Plate - Trio of Mini Appetizers

Ceviche - Assorted Seafood 'cooked' in lime juice
Mini Chicken tamale
Cochinita Pibil - Yucatan Spiced Pulled Pork slowly cooked in banana leaf

Soup Course

Crema de Flor de Calabaza / Cream of Squash Blossom Soup. With a parmesan crisp.


Sorbet de Jamaica / Hibiscus Flower Sorbet

Main Course - choice of one

Pato de Mole Poblano / Duck in Traditional Mole
Pescado a la Veracruzana / Veracruz Style Red Snapper, with capers, tomatoes and olives

Dessert - two mini desserts

Traditional Flan and Mayan Chocolate Torte

What do you think? I wanted it to be fancy, but still accessible for everyone. It would be fun to do something like tacos de chapulines (oaxacan toasted grasshoppers with chile & lime), but that may be pushing it. I can only eat those after *ahem* several tequilas!

I still feel like I should add one more dish, but maybe that's enough. They only want the dinner to last two hours, including the speech.
post #6 of 18
Five courses for $1000......? Perhaps you should go with a few more....perhaps a meat course and a seafood or fish course...I would also
add a cheese course....and mignardes.....Be careful about making traditional dishes such as cochinita pibil.....you'll never be able to recreate these truly incredible dishes to the point the guest will say its the best they have ever had.....its taken me years and years to recreate some the most basic dishes to any degree of success. Maybe stick with modern preparation using some local or regional ingredients. Huitlacoche for example.....for a cheese course perhaps a chilled version of rajas con queso.......be wary of cochinita....the achiote is very strong....not much can be enjoyed after a course like that.....I would go with 8 courses, fairly small.....make them fresh and light......nuff said...I tend to ramble....good luck....I really liked your menu, have a good time with it....
post #7 of 18
one other thing....limones en cocada.....man....nothing better,,if done well.....
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Good points Even Stephen, I am thinking about expanding the menu.

I am the party planner for this, so I am not doing the cooking. I have chefs that are aces at making these dishes, so I am not worried about that.

Anyway, this is a start. Will post the final menu once I get all advice in and everything approved. Thanks for your suggestions!
post #9 of 18
I wouldn't necessarily go with a larger menu.....but think about presentation....go the extra mile.

ie....make piroettes with the parmesan tuilles, possibly gold foil on desserts or change the shape of the flan.....add fresh fruit to the plate....off the top of my tired head possibly a fig half that's bruleed.....
fresh edible flowers
Good to stay with the expertise of the cooks.....
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #10 of 18
I agree...shroom...perhaps ask each of the chefs working with you their individual specialty.....what about wines......good aged tequila after dinner, etc? Keep posting....am interested to see what shakes out......
post #11 of 18
Ceasar Salad
Fruits and cheese
Center Cut Filet, twice baked potatoes, mixed veggies
Red Velvet Cake
post #12 of 18
Juliet, please reply back. That menu looks nummy.
I, on a regular basis go to $500 dinners for my party. Being in Alaska we have some amazing stuff. Sometimes the proteins include king crab, amazing prawns, halibut or salmon, buffalo (ranches in the interior), alas, we have no local cheeses that I know of, but the food is always very good. Note, I did not say excellent, because at our dinners, we are so into the moment of the speeches it is o.k.
You have the mole and the veracruz fish, I want to be there!!
Have spent several jobs in the Vera Cruz area, wowzee, good stuff!
post #13 of 18
What do you mean by "cost." I have catered many events where the price of entry was $1000+, however.... and it's a huge however, the sponsor's budget for the meal itself was paltry. These are usually fundraisers where the money taken in is for specific purposes, other than filling the donor's bellies. Before you plan a menu, find out exactly what your real budget per plate is.
post #14 of 18

I think you're moving in the right direction with your second menu, that is towards Mexican food. It's very appropriate for an American guest of honor and allows you Mexicanos to be more than donors, but hosts as well.

I like some of your specific dishes but feel some are problematic. Also, I feel that the larger area around DF isn't getting the regional attention it deserves -- the closest you come is with the mole from Puebla. You need some important dishes a la brasa or a la parilla.

Other people think the pibil as an appetizer is problematic. Presumably it's a mini taco, no? At any rate, pibil is good as far as I'm concerned, achiote or no. The problem as I see it is you have two tacos -- cevice and pibil. Change the taco de pibil for a mini sope and you're home free.

Speaking of moles, I'd suggest a duo of moles as a course of its own. The pechuga of duck is a wonderful idea. What about serving it with a mole amarillo or mole amarillo de lomo de puerco. (I was going to say "espina," because the thought of all those rich people sucking the meat off the bones while trying to influence the American election is hilarious, but it's too cruel even for me.)

One thing I'd get rid of is the pescado Veracruzana which dries so easily and substitute calamar Veracruzana, and serve it with camarones a la brasa. I'd make the alternative simple chuletas.

How about a beef main? Something like palomilla a la parilla would be good. Offer it as a choice with pollo en nogado.

I like gusanos with chile salt more than tacos. Whatever. If you're serving tequila, don't forget the sangrita.

post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
I wanted to give an update to the event. It was held last Tuesday and was a great success! *whew!*

This is the menu I finally decided on:

Ceviche de Pulpo / Octupus Ceviche
served with Tortilla Crisps
Aged Tequila and Sangrita

Ensalada Verde / Mixed Salad
with Spinach, watercress, beets, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and cojita cheese with a pumkin seed dressing

Crema de Nueces / Walnut Cream Soup
garnished with toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds

Sorbet de Jamiaca y Cassis / Hibiscous Flower Sorbet with Cassis

Poblano relleno de Tinga / Stuffed Poblano Pepper with Chicken Tinga
Tamale Oaxaqueno de Mole / Oaxacan Tamale with Chicken Mole
garnished with jullienned jicama with honey, cumin and lime, topped with fresh mango sala

Chocolate Maya con Creme Anglaise / Chocolate Mousse with Cinnamon and Chipotle Pepper, with a creme anglaise

The guest of honor was Barack Obama's sister, who is a vegetarian, so for her a couple things changed:

Cube of watermelon filled balsamic reduction, basil chiffanade, and cojita cheese
Salsa marinated grilled panela cheese with mixed olive tapenade

Poblano stuffed pepper with tofu tinga
Oaxacan tamale with peppers and gouda cheese

and her soup was made with vegetable stock

oh yeah - and I put salsas and chapulines (roasted grasshoppers with salt and lime) on the tables

The night went off without a hitch, thank God!
post #16 of 18
Sounds wonderful. Wish I could have been there. Brava! Muy brava!

post #17 of 18
congratulations, sounds brilliant!:)
"One can learn to cook, but one is born a Chef." Balzac
"One can learn to cook, but one is born a Chef." Balzac
post #18 of 18
Beautiful menu, thank you for coming back and sharing it with us.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
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