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$200.pp cocktail reception for 40

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I have a spectacular opportunity to submit a proposal and menu with a $20K budget for 40 (all inclusive from staff, rentals, bar, favors, etc) Designing the menu for (his) 50th birthday celebration (guest of honor is an eye surgeon with an amazing art collection.) His favorite restaurants are Per Se, Jean George, El Bulli. ( I know nothing about molecular gastronomy techniques!)

So attention to details, fine foods and presentation requires an "A Game". I've come to this forum to collaborate with the best (worldwide) ideas you might love to offer. Some preliminary ideas include:

* a lavish Seafood Extravaganza raw bar with a tiered presentation
(They definitely want oysters and I would like to garnish with an edible pearl...any ideas that are not sweet like a pearlized marzipan?)
* "Fish & Chips" - Shrimp with Corn, Chives, Sweet Peppers in Vanilla Bean Dressing on Wonton Chip drizzled with pineapple Habanero Salsa
* Lobster Lollipops - RIch mousse dipped in tempura batter
* "Peach Melba" - Foie Gras on "melba" toasts with peach chutney
*White Truffle Croquettes
*Beef Tenderloin - maybe with Espresso Brown sugar rub and Dark Chocolate Mole

Only restriction: NO PORK products

Already contracted Emmy award winning sculptor to design Ice Scultped Bar with Luge, Finest Davidoff Cigars to present later in the evening.

I have set aside $8000. for the butlered hors d'oeuvres and stations. My culinary enthusiasm is on a high. Would love a few great pearls of wisdom, and spectacular ideas....things you always wanted to do when you have that special client who appreciates great culinary moments.

With tremendous gratitude to your collective collaboration.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
post #2 of 36


Aside from great food, great and outstanding service and attention to detail must be assured. Many places serve great food but service is what is lacking. Examples when guest arrive help them on/off with their coats. 1 waiter for every 2 guest, white glove french service only. Napkin change with some courses.Crumb tables. If guest dance or gets up refold napkin at their place setting. These are only a few things that can be done, again bombard with service,because where the other guys food and yours may be equal his form of service may not. I sometimes think more people remember the service more then food.
post #3 of 36
I agree with ED, attention to detail. And you are on the right track with something like a savory edible pearl…nothing says indulgence (and that’s what this event sounds like) like tiny, painstaking and unique garnishes.

I’m at a loss as how to pull the pearl off, maybe with more information. Obviously you want them to eat it so it can’t be rock hard nor can the flavor of whatever you use be conflicting (like something sweet). I’m allergic so I have no idea what types of flavors might compliment raw oysters. I’m also assuming that you want it to be pearlized if at all possible; luster dust will do the trick if the surface is right. Luster dust has no noticeable flavor when applied dry (which is not that often) and when painted on with alcohol you can use vodka to lessen flavor (I know that vodka isn’t supposed to have a flavor, but I can detect its presence) and with your budget cost won’t be an issue.

How big do you want the pearl to be? I’m assuming that you want to place the “pearl” on the raw oyster so moisture from the oyster has to be accounted for both to keep the luster dust on if you use it and to keep the body of the pearl from breaking down depending on what the pearl is made from. (I keep thinking of some type of cracker or crouton, but spherical) How many are you going to need (production issue)?

Oh, I just had a thought, what about a pie crust type dough (maybe slightly flavored) formed into pearls and baked up ala cracker then “dusted”. Kind of crunchy, like one would expect a pearl to be, yet not a jaw breaker and the flavor might not be a perfect marriage but at least it won’t be contradictory.
If the oysters are going out with the servers or if you can keep an eye on replenishing a station the pearls can be added at the last possible minute and you might not have much, if any, moisture break down.
A flat side from baking won’t be horrible, just put the flat side down. There are silicon moulds for producing a good number of “pearls” out of fondant and gum paste at one time, I’ve never used one but surely it would work on pie crust dough and that would give you perfectly uniform pearls with no hand rolling.
You won’t get a super shiny pearl with this, but it should take the luster dust enough so that the guests notice it. Oh, and luster dust comes in a variety of shades (just like pearls), maybe some peach ones, black ones, white ones and yes gold ones (There are actually real pearls that are naturally gold. They are super rare; only one oyster in the world produces them. They are, needless to say, expensive and large in size. Did I mention they are gorgeous?)

About a year ago tigerwoman posted some pictures from an event that, if memory serves, was a Clinton fundraiser. (Don’t ask me how to find a post that old, I’m a techno idiot) She had some beautiful individual crudités. They were, I believe, cucumber cups with a dip inside with the veggies sticking out the top so very pretty, including enoki mushrooms. I thought that they were striking. Definitely inspiring.

Hope that helps.
post #4 of 36
We have done what we call oyster's and pearl's
Island creek oyster's with cauliflower pearls using molecular gastronomy
But you could use large pearl tapioca and cook it in a cauliflower broth.
I would be careful of getting to clever with what you call things.
also check out J.b. Prince for some cool serving dishes

Spanish is very hot right now
post #5 of 36
Have you checked out Keller, Jean George's cookbooks?
I'd start there and morph.

One of the big ticket celebrity meals in town had edible gold leaf as decoration......

First thing I thought of pearl wise was a molecular horseradish pearl, hint of'd need work.

Last night I had butter poached shrimp with grapefruit supremes and avacado panna cotta....was incredible!!!

Juliette tomato half with buretta (sp?) sorbet....topped with fleur de sel....again exemplary.

What time of year is the dinner?
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #6 of 36
Years ago did a gig in N.Y for Frank Purdue. Entree was roast boned rock cornish hen, with a brandied peach and almond stuffing covered with Gold Foil. Took us hours just to peel foil from paper to birds. It was however very impressive. especialy under candlelight in dining room
post #7 of 36
The less you do to a raw oyster, the better. A squeeze of citrus and some hot sauce is perfection. A mignonette is almost as good. Maybe it's me but a "pearl" seems too girly and too much.

Luxury is expertise, labor, quality, freshness. Consider setting up part of your seafood station with wood crates of oysters and clams on ice; and supply a couple of shuckers and a sushi men. My presentation would be half Grand Central Oyster Bar and half Sushi Bar -- in other words, less formal rather than more. I'd also consider picking up a couple of sides of very good lox or gravlaks from NYC and including that as part of the sashimi presentation -- think of it as rich doctors' comfort food.

Unless the party is black or white tie, white glove is not correct for the servers. French waiter's attire (white shirt, white apron, black tie, black pants) is appropriate.

If possible, I'd suggest smoking the tenderloin.

Truffle is tricky. It's a good idea, but calls a lot of attention to itself. It wants to be, and usually should be the star. I'm not sure how you're planning on serving your croquettes, but if they've got enough truffle to be truffle, they're going to overwhelm anything near them in time or space. You may want them at a station rather than passed.

You don't have enough salt. How do you say salt in money? Oh yes. Caviar. You need caviar. I hate to be old fashioned, but I'd suggest small buckweat blinis with two caviars -- an American paddlefish plus wasabi tobiko -- and sour cream. You might consider latkes rather than blinis.

You lack poultry. A play on Peking duck. You could serve in a timbale if you think two pancackes would be too many. Also peeled, seasoned and barely hard-boiled quail eggs in some sort of nest presentation.

Baked goods: You need a gougere or something like it. Maybe monkey bread.

A few thoughts,
post #8 of 36
Thread Starter 
I am in Chef Talk heaven from the genius on this board. Thank you - thank you - thank you. I love you all!!

So this is a lavish cocktail party. They have been so impressed with my invitaiton designs and tonight's tasting menu (she) decided to up the guest list to 55....and put down a hefty non-refundable deposit before even seeing the menu or contracts. (Now that's my kind of client) Wants outdoor dance floor under the stars with no tent (absolutely no purveyor out of 12 I've spoken to, will allow it's cutting into the overall pkg. and I think my eye started to twich for a

Okay so she up'ed the budget another $5K, just enuf for the tents, lighting....

Loved every suggestion mentioned. Staff is handled with professional crew and really good looking too. I to agree that service is tantamount to a highly successful event and I take care of my people at $30./hour so they are happy to multi-task and make sure everything is seemless.

Yes, I'm sitting with Thomas Keller's , Surreal Gourmet Bites, Catersource mags and Art Culinaire on my desk. This is what I live for and am so excited and nervous at the same time. The "bar" has been raised high.

I love the dough idea for the pearls and will test that immediately tomorrow.
Party is in 4 weeks. They absolutely want a spectacular seafood extravaganza. I think I'm going to splurge on an amazing display piece from Cheffield.

Forgot about the gold dust....will incorpate on chocolate truffles in the dessert buffet finale. Makes a wonderful glow under starry skies!

Gravalox...check; Latkas with domestic caviar....check. This is a predominantly Jewish group, about 40-50 age range, highly sophisticated.

Will need to be ready to submit menu by Sunday.
Thank you once again for putting together some fabuloso ideas.

Culinary Kisses to all!!!
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
post #9 of 36
please share when you figure out the menu....always interesting to read how things work out.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #10 of 36
Second that emotion.

post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 


So the update is now....
$20K, no increaase in budget, increased guest count to 55, longer party (now it's 7-Midnight) With the same requirements of a "lavish, 1st class, breathitaking, memorable, sophisticated, Best Party ever!".
Absolutely wants a lavish seafood bar with oysters - must.

Bar must be full bar with Verve Cliquot, Silver Oak, Scotch, Top shelf vodka for hosts dirty martinis, etc.

She won't up the budget for the xtra lighting by the pool or pillows nor lounge rentals so she'll discuss this with her decorator ("Oh", I said, "she'll do this for gratis since she's decorating your other NYC pad"...."No", she responds, she charges $125. per hour...) You know that it will cost another bloody$10K bec she will decorate and feng shui at same time!!!!!!

I've adjusted food budget from $200pp. to $150.pp.....ran the numbers with tents & dance floor, dropped the cigar service & favors(it was going to be Davidoff's - Special R's for the men; a lovely artistic tea caddy from the Fancy Food Show that I saw) It still doesn't come to $20K

She wants to know if I can stagger having the staff arrive since all her guests won't be arriving at the same time and I really don't need everyone there at once. IS SHE KIDDING ME! (can you see me....I'm stressing by the minute)

THIS IS NO LONGER A DREAM COME TRUE. Okay, before I give her both checks back ..........Shroomgirl you're the best moderator, and budget person around and cool as a cuke caterer . What would you do? I have not responded to her two emails this AM.

Oh, did I mention she went "ballistic" according to my DJ subcontractor salesman, calling operations manager on the emergency line on Sat am, to get an apptmt with the DJ to personally meet or bets were off! (My philosophy in LIFE is people always reveal themselves and if she is this controlling and tempermental now, ........) Also I know I am in the service business but I am certainly not a servant. She has already disrespected two of my sub contractors --- the DJ and the Ice Sculptor artist.

Colleagues unite.....please give me some sound therapeutic advice.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
post #12 of 36
Get a large deposit, buy large bottles of asprin and malox
post #13 of 36
wow, I'm so sorry that the coolest ever party is becoming a PIA.....

Let's back it up......

As it reads now she has hired you to not only cater the food but coordinate the event. And that's where she is jerking chains.

Did you just give her resource phone numbers (ice guy, DJ, photog, etc)? Either she is going through you or she's coordinating herself.....can't really be both.

Your budget has changed, thus she wants a less lavish party......

Tell her what you can do for $150pp

Keep what's important to them.....stationary sculpture/ oysters etc.

Dance Floor

If it's booze, well tell them what it'll run for 55 people to have an open premium bar with their choice booze.

Cut back on fussy shtuff......your right, they can pick up cigars, they can pick up gifts.....

I hate giving a bid then having it piecemealed out it really takes the wind out of my sails.

You know what your books look like, if you have time for this gig....if you are making enough profit for the PIA factor.....

Good luck, take a deep breath and sit on it a day.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #14 of 36
oops....5 hour party.

so open with the seafood, shut it down after 2.5 hours, then start bringing out dessert shtuff.

Gradually throughout the evening add and subtract food, it'll make it more interesting to the guests and you can orchestrate volume alittle more closely.

If they wanna expand hours on various stations let them know about the additional cost.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #15 of 36
I hate to be a PITA myself, but there is something I noticed in this thread that I have not heard addressed in the forum anywhere else. It was the mention of the high end booze that got me thinking. In my state you have a special license (like a restaurant or bar) to serve alcohol at an event. If you, the caterer, purchase it and bring it to the event and pass on the cost to your client you are selling alcohol and become responsible for those who drink it (minors, drivers etc.). Being designated as a caterer who can sell alcohol makes your insurance rates go way up. Hence only the “big dogs” in my area go that route and not even all of them. The rest of us have the client be responsible for the alcohol and then attach labor costs for serving. A lot of just starting out folks (and even some who have been doing it for a while) don’t realize this until they get notice that they are facing fines and or criminal charges.

I know that ABC laws vary from state to state but it is worth thinking about.

Other than that, graciously stand firm. I feel your pain wanting the business and lamenting that an event that you thought you would be able to pull out all the stops on has turned into clientzilla trying to wring every half penny out of your soul. Give her her money’s worth, get a prescription for anti-anxiety meds and don’t let her bend you over a barrel.

And now for the snarky part, what 4 weeks out she’s going to find someone else for a lavish affair? Oh and that’s a lavish affair that includes not just the food but entertainment, gifts, and partial décor as well, bless her heart.
Ever notice the nasty ones only start quibbling when the event gets close. Two months out money is no issue, the sky is the limit and they understand the value of your service. After you commit to the event, clear your schedule and incur cost they want more service for less money. End of rant.

As far as logistics go and how to handle it: Shroomgirl is on the money, as per usual.
post #16 of 36
Thread Starter 

Excellent feedback

Shroomgirl, my cool as a cuke thinking biz woman...the lavish seafood bar opened for a limited timeframe is the perfect solution. This way I can keep it looking full for a shorter length.'re still the best!

Good point to note on the board about liquor.The liquor situation is the same in my state. I subcontract that out to a licensed bartending service with insuance, liq lic and CERT certified bartenders. THis way they are responsible for all the liability. As well in my contracts, I have a paragraph (and my contracts have become two pages long...well probably because I don't have it tiny weeny small print)
"Alcoholic Beverages: Client agrees to take all responsibility for the action of guests who are consuming alcoholic beverages during and after the event."
This way they would be dealing with taking keys away from guests which has happened on only one occasion.
I like to consult with my subcontractoras about what I'm serving and a preferred wine selection if it can be included in the budget. In this regard, I might only have one Silver Oak for the guest of honor and provide other less expensive but wonderful reds and definitely VIognier's for the Seafood Extravaganza ......Pine Ridge is a great one, McManis is nice, Sanford Chardonnay. All good. Subcontractor was including Glenlevit, Oban & Macallan...will need to make adjustments to probably Johnnie Walker Black because I'm still $1200. over with the numbers and her last email opened with....."I meant every word I said"....I don't know about you but it gave me a nasty rub/vibe....More later.........
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
post #17 of 36
Speaking of the liquor..

I started to write several posts, then stopped, because -- while I know you want advice -- I'm not sure it's a good idea to counsel line drawing other than very generally. People find their own places, plus you're on the scene and know the client. But shroomgirl said it first, so I can just jump on the wagon.

Try and get as much of the conversation between the two of you on email and off the phone. Try and get her to write stuff down. Not to create a "record," but it will force her to think about what she wants -- whether it's reasonable or not.

You think you're feeling the pressure? She is too. Twice as badly. That's why stuff's rolling downhill. If mind-changing and talking through problems with a hundred "but on the other hand," for every little thing is going to make you nuts you better fasten your seatbelt. A middle aged JAP with a $20K budget for her husband the eye surgeon's party, married to a successful doctor yet, ain't gonna be easy. She's going to require a lot of stroking, and she figures she's worth it. If you think your position is difficult, just be glad you aren't married to her or her father. Trust me on this.

Call HER and talk your problems out about what to get rid of, how you just wanted to make the party perfect for HER, because she's THE PERFECT CLIENT, and so on. It's best if you can call at an inconvenient time and leave a message that you just have a couple of questions. When you talk, don't imply criticism of her. On the contrary, tell her you understand what she's going through and support her. You just don't know how to handle it and she has such good ideas and taste. This emotional black mail by mixed message is what passes for negotiation, conversation and simple good manners among my people. Even foreplay, under different circumstances. It might seem complicated at first, but trust me, you'll get the hang of it. The best thing would be if you could pass a message through one of her parents.

You've got to be sympathetic about her problems; tell her it's not her fault, her only problem is she's too nice, she cares too much, that sort of thing. But you also have to draw some lines. The more things that change -- even if they change because of something she did, the less happy and more anxious she'll be. You can even talk about it with her and she'll tell you, yes, that's how it always is. She'll also tell you she's "only trying to make everything perfect for" Whaztizname, and might even start crying on that part. Fifty bucks says if she doesn't use those exact words, she'll be (or already has been) darn close.

As her plans expand with her areas of control, while her budget remains static, it's time to start severing stuff -- in threat or in reality. If she wants to hire her own DJ and photographer, she should by all means do so. Whatever she wants to do, she should do. It's one less thing for you to worry about and you'll be happy to take the net charges off the bill and 50% of your commission for those services -- retaining the other 50% as a cancellation and "reprogramming" fee. Obviously this is more along the lines of calling her bluff then anything she's actually going to do. Do it sweetly in an non-challenging way. Just be matter of fact and downright helpful.

The booze is actually pretty simple to handle it (and this is actually practical advice): Two ways to go -- her choice.

One: Take the booze and wine out of the budget and let her write the check to the liquor store.

Two: Tell her that there are other labels as good or better than the ones she's talking about which cost significantly less. For instance, vintage champagnes from Tattinger, Bollinger and Pol Roger are every bit as good as Veuve (means "widow," pronounced kind of like "verve," but spelled with a "u" and not an "r" ) Cliquot, Roederer (Cristal), and Dom Perignon; and that you know an expert who can provide a range of similarly good and similarly lower priced in every category -- and that further, many of these brands will be knew and fun for her guests, and represent a connoisseur's taste, rather than just a deep pocket. You've got to remember that this group receives a lot more expensive booze at Christmas than they can possibly drink in the course of a year. In one sense, a good label is a source of security which says "good enough taste," but it's not the touch of eccentricity which whispers "true knowledge." (Schrammsberg Blanc de Noirs; Boodles Gin; Elijah Craig Bourbon, Monopolowa Vodka (impossibly good, and CHEAP, from Trader Joe's yet), Meukow VSOP (cognac), Dalwhinnie Scotch (just like MacAllan), Clantarfal Irish, and so on.

Also -- considering that there are only 55 guests; that they're mostly Jewish doctors and spouses; that champagne will be handed; don't expect a lot of booze to be drunk. If she goes through a case of hard liquor, it's going to be a shock. This is not what you'd call a hard drinking group. Even though the bottles are as much for display as for drinking the list is going to require some editing.

Veering off on a tangent -- same for that matter with Davidoff. It's a good cigar and very, very expensive. But it's not a great cigar, it's value comes as much from being expensive and exclusive as from being good. There are much better cigars out there for substantially less money. If you want to do a cigar bar, you can provide a box each of strong and mild, which will not only better satisfy a smoker's palate far better than Davidoff, but save 50% to boot. Like Johnny Walker Blue -- Davidoff says "gauche display" more than it says, "good taste."

post #18 of 36
Thread Starter 
BDL you do offer some great pearls and then went off on a tangent in a stream of consciousness that I had no idea about....something about foreplay, a message to her parents, I'm still scratching my head wondering what that was meant to convey.

The putting myself in her shoes is a worthy note....compassion, the more things change, the more the anxiety level increases, etc.. Well said. The advice with the Event Planning, Designs and Ideas given to her (yes with names of my contacts, she is now using. On the one hand, certain of my sub contractors do not deal with the public and only to the trade. The others will not quote price since I am the point of initial contact so she can discuss and ask questions but the deal won't shift to a direct contract without acknowledgemnt of my work. Great point on the cancellation of Event Planning cancellation and relinguishing fault for "opening my kimono" with ideas and taking a deposit long before contracts were signed and menu and guest count agreed upon. Then it would have been wonderful for her to increase the guest count with everything spelled out.

Some of your latter ideas I'm not quite in agreement with. Sure I could opt for Montecristo Robusto's or La Gloya Robusto's and feature that smoke. Veuve (thank you for the grammatical corrections since I'm being well coached for my A+ game).

Your point about the Jewish crowd not being power drinkers gives me some breathing room. You're absolutely right about this. I'll double check the guest list. Okay, my seat belt is tightened and I'm ready to go back in......Many thanks BDL and Shroomgirl!
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
post #19 of 36
Saffron, I am just a home cook, but I would love to know how everything turns out and see pictures if possible. I just know it will work out for you. Your profession has so much drama. It should be a new reality show!!....hehehehe:lol:
post #20 of 36
It was funnier in Yiddish.

She's working on a budget too, otherwise it would be "cost plus." She said, "Sweetie, we need to add 5 more couples, it's going to cost more."

Then He said, "This is getting ridiculous Honey, we can't afford it as it is. $20 grand is the limit."

So, it rolled down hill and she said to you, "We're adding 15 people, but we're staying with the $20 thousand budget."

I'm not sure what you're saying. Davidoff or nothing? Or you're considering other cigars. I'd recommend Rocky Patel 1990 or 1992 Vintage as mild cigars and El Rey del Mundo as strong -- in similar sizes, whatever you think appropriate. These are both extremely good cigars, both more interesting than Davidoff. Davidoff is sort of the creme brulee of cigars. The El Rey is a real cigar smokers cigar, very well made, very strong but plenty going on, what I smoked when I still smoked. The Patel Vintage is easy, tasty, all sorts of complexities and nuances -- to try is to love. Pretty box too. Actually, just go with the Patels. Take a look. Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 Churchill Tubes Cigars at Famous Smoke Shop About half the price of Davidoff #2s.

YW. You're not moving off the ole veuve are you? Well, why should you? A solid, reliable champagne.

We aren't the world's biggest drinkers, it's true. Neither are doctors, as a class. But it's not just that, I get the impression she wants a fully stocked back bar with a lot of choices. 55 people -- even heavy drinkers -- won't support that. It needs editing.

This is pretty much the kind of thing I used to do when I was still doing this kind of stuff. I wouldn't handle a group over 100 under any circumstances, and over 50 only under protest. My clientele were about 75% more money than they knew what to do with industry people, and about 25% successful professionals. Very similar to your group. I'm familiar with "cost is no object" hitting the budget wall, too.

Generally, you can do a lot of little things, or a few big things. Your ideas for the food are wonderful -- as is your overview of the overall feeling -- perfection with just enough excess to be fun, but not gauche. I get it. I like it.

Best of luck,
post #21 of 36
Thread Starter 

Response to Pvt Messages

Many thanks to Izvnso and Dillbert for your private messages and Cucumber Gougere recipe. For some reason I am getting error database messages in attempting to private message back to you.

I will test that recipe tonight since it looks to be a refreshing palate cleanser, and am overwhelmed with organic cucumbers from my garden. Will also test a recipe I dreamed about last night. I was told this client likes Lobster Fra Diablo. Dreamt that I would use orzo instead of linguini and stuff petit lobster tails ala fra diablo. Easier to eat at a cocktail event. I can always do the Jean Georges petit lobster tails poached in butter or an adaptation of Thomas Keller's Sweet butter poached Lobster with saffron vanilla scented sauce. Easier prep and presentation but I'll have fun creating this evening's fare, surprise my husband and enjoy sunset on the beach.

In a separate post by BDL, you are right on target about the mention of many "littles" as I am the Queen of Hors d'oeuvres and anything that can be created for a regular size "portion" (yes, we differ here), I love to recreate in miniature. And yes,I prefer to attract an upscale clientele so that the portions (recommended on a separate post) are much more in alignment with the clientele and muti course menus I develop for each event.

As always, kudos to Shroomgirl for giving me b-r-e-a-t-h-i-n-g room in troubleshooting the quantity dilemma for increased hours for the party and the Seafood Extravaganza.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
post #22 of 36
Thread Starter 

As requested, here's the selected menu

Event is in 4 weeks:
The selected Menu-
Butlered hors'doeuvres
Spicy Guacamole served in Wonton Cones on tiered lucite trays
White Truffle Croquettes
OUr Signature Crabcakes with Chipotle Remoulade
Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna on Crispy Wonton Chips with Sweet Chili Dressing
Curry Chicken in Scalloped Cucumber Cups
Duck Spring Rolls with Plum Dipping Sauce
Ancho Rubbed Filet Mignon with Cuban Espresso Sauce

Buffet Stations
Seafood Extravaganza
Raw Bar with Oysters & Pearls (the pearlys will be daikon scooped 10-12 mm balls, need to test with that luster dust someone previously mentioned)
Fresh Clams, Stuffed Mussels, Petit Lobster Tails, Jumbo Shrimp,served with Cocoktail Sauce and Mignonette
(I did a 4-way Stuffed Petit Lobster Tasting: Buerre Monte with Orzo & Roasted Corn, Lobster with Saffron Vanilla Sauce also with Orzo(Tk's...OMG!!!!), Lobster Margarita with Organic Baby Swiss Chard, and Petit Lobster Fra Diablo again with Orzo. All were stuffed 4oz lobster tails, and can be served room temp on the beautiful display.

Pate Display
Truffle Mousse , Vegetable Pate and Duck Pate (all must be pork free...I'll probably go with D'ArtagnaN'S), decorated with cherry tom, French coprnichons, Figs, peach chutney or onion marmalade, pistachios,with brioche toasts, cocktail pumpernickle,

Comfort Food Crowd Pleasers
Chic hors d'oeuvres with City Edge Presentation & Nostolgic Flavors
Mini Sirloin Burgers on Brioche (can't do cheeseburgers)
Mini Kosher Cocktail Franks
Pommes Frites in Square cones set in tiered lucite trays.

Sweet Finale
Chocolate Truffles decorated with Edible Gold Leaf
Mini Bananas Foster Cheesecake
Mini Apple Beignets dusted with Confectioners Sugar
Birthday Cake by Sweet Lisa's
Coffee~ Espresso~ Sambucca

In revviewing her selections, I mentioned that I thought the selections were heavily protein, high cholesterol content with not enough veggies. The hostess is a petit woman who works out 4 hours/day (the recipe for a size 0 body!) She's thrilled with her choices.

Now for the liquors, I have recommended to my Bar/Liquor subcontractor for Veuve Cliquot, McCallen, or LaGouvin(sp?), Kettle One (host's preferences) and definitely a Viognier for white wine to pair nicely with the Seafood selections. He's filling in the rest for a full bar. (NO PORK, NO CHEESE WITH MEAT BUT SHELLFISH - OK)

Any suggestions for complimentary finales or additions to the Stationery Buffers. Shroomgirl, I loved the idea of guest favors of cookies in mini boxes with company label. Did you charge for that or was it your gift to the event?

Following all of your recommendations, I waited three days to respond during the "craziness", tightend the belt for the many changes and with enthusiasm courageously moved forward to do what I love to do....create spectacular celebrations.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
post #23 of 36
I've read through all the posts, scratched my head a few times, and felt fortunate that I'm retired. This is a very, very peculiar menu, as noted: No pork, no dairy with meat, but including cuts of meat which are not kosher, and multiple seafood items which are not kosher.

As I noted in a prior thread, I have been an excellent shabbus goy (sabbath gentile) for decades, catering many Jewish events when it would be inapprpriate for a Jewish person to do so.

Find out from Mrs. Doctor if there's anyone attending who keeps the kosher dietary laws. You'll need to have separate food for them, prepared in a kosher kitchen and served separately.

Increase the number of vegetarian items. They can be simple, but you'll see they'll be gobbled up. Smaller potato knishes are always a huge hit!
Move the tuna from the butlered hors'doeuvres to the buffet. Prepare whole roasted loins and serve it tenderloin sliced, and be quite certain your staff verbally identifies it as roasted sashimi grade tuna, so no one thinks it's pork loin. Lose the mini wienies!! They cheapen the event. You want wieners? Buy the finest 1/4 pound kosher wieners you can find and the best buns and condiments in your market. You'll "sell" more hot dogs than lobster. Trust me

It's difficult to predict alcohol consumption, but lately I've seen more single malt scotches and small batch vodkas consumed than in years past. Inevitably, someone will ask if there's beer. Have a nice selection of imports.

Were it me, I'd hire the best chef in the neighborhood to direct traffic, taste, and make certain everything is right.

I dunno about the duck. Duck is served best when just done, almost rare. In my 40 years experience, I have never had great success with duck. People are simply not acclimated to eating duck, particularly rare duck. Frankly, I'd use a high quality mock duck in the spring rolls. It'll give you another vegetarian item without a major menu alteration.

Be very careful with guacamole. In a hearbeat, it can discolor, even with a hearty charge of fresh lime juice.

I'll probably keep thinking about this.

Oh, for cigars, Id go with Montecristo White Court Tubes from JR Cigar.
post #24 of 36
Serious amount of food for 55 guests.

Fryers will be a fryin'

Petit desserts that are remaining from the charge.

BUT for your crowd I'd come up with a whizbang little presentation box with your best little treats. consider it marketing.....
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #25 of 36
If anyone is interested in "whizbang" presentation boxes, I have always had good luch with Nashville Wraps. I did a lot of looking at other places all over the net and I like them the best. I found that they have a great selection of packaging at good prices and WONDERFUL customer service.

Nashville Wraps is a Gift Packaging and Gourmet Gift Basket Supplies Wholesale Resource
post #26 of 36
Thread Starter 

With gratitude for all the advice

BDL, thanks for the cigar recommendations and a reminder that the Davidoff's are not the only fine cigar. Client decided to opt for a trocadero (sp?) for the evening, hand rolling 100 cigars for the guests (one as a guest favor) Last evening's party on the beach (casual crowd of fire fighters and EMT's) ended with NIcaraguan cigars, a fav of my husbands, which were infused in the humador over 4 months with rum+espresso+chocolate. The men were thrilled!
Enuf said about cigar snob choices.

There is a lavish buffet of food for this crowd and it is one of the longest cocktail parties BUT, guest dietary restrictions and kosher-style presentation required the client to request multiple different passed and stationery selections to accomodate all of her husband's friends.

The liquor equation is a bit tricky. I have a bartender/liq subcontractor
(lic, million dolloar insurance and TIPs certified) who gave me a $50.pp price because of the wide premiums required by the client including VC champagne, Mc Callen Scothch (this is a heavy scotch crowd...Jewish and all), Kettle one dirty martinis, (absolute) for mixed, Petrone, JD< etc.....and after dinner with Sambucca (I always offer espresso), Amaretto and GM. 24 bottles of wine is his guestimate with Viognier selection that I recommended to pair nicely with the Seafood Extravaganza. I'm up to the fine details.....
we went over many suggestions in early posts about that oyster pearl. Ordered the luster dust...should be here next week. Testing the oyster & pearls today with a casual group....simple shucking of oysters with radish pearl(daikon not in I peeled (red) radish ..I think it's a 11mm pearl!!!)
No luster dust for today.Will serve with Champagne mignonette.

QUESTION: I read the disclaimer on luster dust that it is not a "food and is non toxic". So I'm assuming it is food safe (I know pastry chefs use it on fondant). But I think it was previously mentioned that it will be tricky to keep luster on pearl against wet oyster or even adhering to radish altho' I will pat dry as much as possible and hope these can be done days in advance.

QUESTION 2 goes to Shroomgirl....Are you recommending that leftover mini desserts be boxed for guest "favor" (gratis) or just have already boxed (purchased from papermart along with these great square cone boxes that I use for the FF station on tiered squae lucite trays) Or I was thinking of making petit cookies (they look like sprinkled bon bons) with my label that would already be pre done (gratis)?

QUESTION 3: I really put myself in a bit of a "pickle" when she selected the Comfort Food Station. Those are items that are typically passed HD. I'm concerned that they will be soggy in 1/2 size chafers even if I constantly monitor and replenish. Have to test this out this week because I will need to design a special lucite tray to insert in chafer to hold the FF in those cute cones boxes without box and FF going limp. What say my wise masters????

Thank you so much for being my culinary muses/advisory matter how much I've experienced over decades, it's still always a unique experience with each client and yet still very exciting and a privilege to do what I love to do.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
post #27 of 36
:lol: The Trocadero, site of the Palais de Chaillot, is an area of Paris, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.

Your client hired a torcedor; an individual who rolls cigars. She'll be handing out, in the cigar vernacular, "fresh rolls." Some of the most memorable cigars I've smoked were custom fresh rolls I bought in New York and San Francisco in the early '70s, when a few tobbaconists could still buy Cuban tobacco through channels in the Canary Islands, which still imported tonnage of Cuban tobacco, then passed it into the U.S. as Canary Island, breña tobacco. I assume your client will be working with CF Dominicana. Good luck.
post #28 of 36
Gratis premade cookie cones.......just surprise the hostess.
make that part easy on yourself.

crisp ff the only way to out of the fryer.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #29 of 36
I think is missing in action.
post #30 of 36
Thread Starter 

Event Summary Report to "CT" Culinary Headquarters

To everyone who provided insights, expertise and guidance, I am deeply grateful. The party was a success and here are a few of the details....

The menu, while quite lavish for a (final) guest count of 45 was well balanced in flavor profiles and textures. OUr signature crabcakes, a welcomed hit with people from Maryland. The spicy coconut curry chicken in scallped cucumber cups were surprisingly refreshing with a complementary hit of spicyness.
The Seafood extravaganza was an arresting visual display (purchased from Cheffield and arrived in time....I had butter poached the lobster tails, removed the meat, cut into perfect medallions and lined the lobsters with medallions. 4 sauces were served on the display - cocktail, mignonette, butter and saffron vanilla bean sauce. The bluepoint osyters were served with an 11mm radish "pearl" (sans luster dust). The freshest of clams shucked, shrimp, and stuffed mussels. Shroomgirl, the 2.5 hours of having the display attended and replenished was perfect. The main hitch was that because the display was heavy, the food assembly was outdoors in front of the guests. That wasn't a problem for the staff to do. The difficulty was holding back the guests from touching the display before it was finished. The other complaint from staff was that (even tho it was attended) the guests grazed the display with their fingers and left their dishes on the display table. An adjustment should have been made to staff two people on that display to serve ond clear impeccably.

The pate came from D'artagnan. They appeared the only source with 100% foie gras with herbs and wine (no dairy or pork, a requirement for the party)

The only thing added was a three tiered crudite display.

The food solicited wonderful comments from the guests throughout the evening. One staff was assigned to be a VIP attendant for the hosts.
All was perfect EXCEPT:

The weather was projected to go down to 50's. Early in the week, I had suggested to the hostess to secure heaters. When she complained about being over budget, I went with Plan B options and suggested a few duraflame logs in case people sauntered into the house, the staff could easily light a fire.

Well, BDL, you were right, the craziness continued in that she did in fact go over budget ($23,000) because at the last minute decided on having valet parking and at midnight the evening before, emailed a request for heaters!!!
Here's where we have to not complain about last minute difficult requests but separate ourselves as true professionals in the business. We were able to secure 4 heaters from three different rental companies taking up addiditonal two hours of time on day of the event. And yes, I did charge for the "emergency fees" and pickup/delivery charges to all locations over two days.

The weather mid party went to 46 degrees and was way too cold for guest's comfort. The majority huddled around the heaters while some danced to keep warm.

The subsontracted bartender did an outstanding job and was on point with the liquor amounts for this party. Maybe it was the weather, but this audience drank the night away!!!!

Dessert service included hand made truffles with edible gold leaf. My first batch was perfection....the second batch I had streaks in the chocolate coverig (probably rushed the tempering) - I don't think they noticed it as they were all gone, mini bananas foster cheesecakes on mini disposables which were placed on a tiered "staircase" of s-shaped lucite risers (my husband manufactures my displays), warm apple beignets,and a gorgeous birthday cake by Sweet Lisa's in Greenwich.

Feedback from the staff was great. I have not heard from the hosts because they are now in Hawaii celebrating their anniversary. Oh well, for some there is no recession or financial crisis.

Again, thank you all for your professional guidance threw this event. From a culinary perspective, it was my favorite one of all.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
La torche de l’amour est allumee dans la cuisine.
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