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Wedding Menu, anyone?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
~Father's wedding in late October
~Step-mother's first
~Put me in charge
~Attendance 400-500
~Elegant/proper setting
~One course evening meal, wines before, cake/pastries after
~Preferably not seafood
~Theme?
~Specific nationality cuisine?
~Complimentary foods?

I have a great imagination and love to be creative with foods that compliment each other, but a time like this is not one for experimenting. Looking for something not ordinarily found on the dinner table; delicious and exquisitely fine but not too extravagant or weird. Desiring to make this a very special day for both of them, so the meal needs to reach the peak of excellence in both making, presentation and the eating as well. Ideas and advice from older/more experienced chefs who have done catering in the past or at present. Note: I am having two receptions in different states, would you recommend doing the same food for both or something separate for each? Different people will be attending the second.

Thank you so much.

~Danii
post #2 of 17
How many people are helping you?
What kind of kitchen will you use?

This is quite a big meal, 400 to 500! Wow!

I am an amateur cook and cooking for a whole student residence (over 80 people) was a big deal!

We always had success with buffet type when we had crowd, but 400 plates is another story.

Good luck!
post #3 of 17
A few questions, what locale are you cooking. I.e, do you have a commercial kitchen at hand?. Another question would be, as mentioned before, how many hands. Lead up time would be worth a mention.

A function I had a hand in several years ago took approximately a week to prep. However it was for about 6,500.

Maybe before settling on a theme, take a look at the site capability before deciding menu.
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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post #4 of 17
Do you have the background and logistic know how to do 400-500? Its quite a bit for ''a cook at home'' and its not just cooking.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #5 of 17
If you have been" put in charge " , is this your first time cooking for so many people ? If it is, I would strongly suggest that you concider having it catered. This is a family wedding and you want it to go well.
I understand that you love to cook but there is big difference in cooking for 50-100 and then 400-500. Do you have any idea of the prep work needed , staff, equipment, assistants, servers, refrigerators ?....I mean its a huge challenge for even experienced chefs who have been in the business a long time.

Cost...How much are you allowed to spend ? It is always good to sit and calculate the whole cost.
You have a big heart for wanting to take this on, but know all the facts beforehand.
You have left out so many details, do you know where this is taking place ? What is the most you have catered for ?

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #6 of 17
my first thought, and not to be a jerk, but Danii, you're going to try cooking for almost 500 at a WEDDING? Are you insane, or just immensely naive?

being put in charge doesn't mean doing it all yourself. it means leveraging the resources available to you. You have weddings catered. May I ask how old you are? somewhere I beleive you've grossly missed the point of what they had in mind when they put their trust in you. It's a mistake that someone quite young would make, and I hope you don't make similar mistakes elsewhere because of a lack of enxperience for things like weddings.... but maybe im wrong..... sorry. just trying to help, and honesty for something like this is the best policy.
I excel at sauteeing onions.
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I excel at sauteeing onions.
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post #7 of 17
Don't do it. I have nothing more to add. See above quotes.
post #8 of 17
I just thought of a way she can pull this off...

but all 400-500 people have to like hotdogs.... that's key.
I excel at sauteeing onions.
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I excel at sauteeing onions.
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post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
My thanks to everyone on the responses given...
A few details left out:

~One week preparation time
~3-4 other people helping
~May or may not have a church kitchen to cook in
~This would be my first
~I am 17

Tomorrow there is going to be a meeting of the people involved to discuss the options for this, they wanted me to pick out the theme, then my dad would give me however much I needed to buy the items and then supposedly we'd make it. It sounded so simple... but the last couple of days I've been doubting if a wedding is the place to start. Von Milash, you're right, and I surely do not want to serve hotdogs. ;)

So... just to make sure I'm hearing everyone right... the reason being:
I should let professional caterers do the wedding, period?
Or because of the size?
My age/experience?
And if I'm not doing this... where is a place I can start to work towards that?

Oh... I'm very grateful for what you all could tell me even though it might seem negative, telling me not to do it. I want my dad and step mom to have a great wedding and would hate for it to be a disaster on account of me. So I really appreciate knowing your thoughts now rather than in 2 months "hey you guys, the wedding was awful! I didn't get the food done in time, I burned everything, I didn't set up the table properly so the cake and punch collapsed on the bridal party as they walked past..." - and then hear the moans of great anguish and nightmares following.

I will talk to my dad about it and see if he can have it catered. And I... will... plan up some harvest party? Would that be a good starting place for serving 50-70 people? :)

Thanks again...

~Danii

PS - my dad's first wedding... they had egg salad sandwiches. How informal is that? One of my cousin's weddings they had barbequed ribs - messy! Another was after thanksgiving and apparently had bought on sale turkeys. It was extremely dry and the potatoes were just disgusting. I'm not a picky eater and definitely no where near a food critic... but... my brother and I are both trying to make this a really big event as my dad is not really the big crowd type and wouldn't mind just having the couple, matron of honor, best man and pastor present. But then again, really gourmet caterers would be expensive... *sigh*
post #10 of 17
hire a professional, you can't enjoy the day if you're trying to pull off such an impossible feat. you really need a lot more skills and knowledge before you can do this. start your learning by taking a part time job washing dishes or doing prep in a restaurant to see if you really would enjoy the field.
kathee
post #11 of 17
NO! "Expensive" would be any form of disaster!

A few things to consider:
  • Serving 400 people in 30 minutes means a little over 13 plates per minute or 1 plate every 4.5 seconds, might be a trifle difficult with only 3-4 helpers, most caterers would use at least 40-50 servers let alone the kitchen staff.
  • Serving 400 people, say, 6 ounces of protein (meat) means 150 pounds of cooked meat or, depending on the meat, about 180 to 200 pounds of raw product.
  • serving 400 people 4 ounces of a starch means 100 pounds of starch
  • Serving 400 people means at least 100 and probably 200 bottles of wine/champagne, that's a lot of bottles to open and pour.
You can still "be in charge", just hire professionals and enjoy the festivities!
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #12 of 17
grown adults put a 17 yo in charge? brilliant.

i think the hotdogs would be fine.
I excel at sauteeing onions.
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I excel at sauteeing onions.
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post #13 of 17
Well I don't think 40-50 servers Pete, maybe 1 server per 2 tables. That's still plenty of servers however. Anyway to give you some kind of idea what goes on, and maybe raise the level of respect for professionals who do this on a daily basis, here's a brief rundown of a little part of the operation:

1) You will not be doing prep for a week. Rather, you better be prepping a little the night before and most of it the day of to ensure high quality.

2) If you are serving a protein portion, this will need to be marked or browned, put on sheet pans, chilled, and cooked until done about 30 minutes before service. 400 will require between 16 and 30 sheet pans depending on what you're doing. Less room required for filet mignon, more for ribeyes and full breasts. This requires of course rack space, so about 4 bun racks (or speedracks depending on where you live) and a walk in cooler to chill them.

3) Cooking. You will need at least one shelf oven. Two if you want to get plating done in less than a half hour.

4) Plating. You will need room for plates and space to set up your plating line. You can make four stacks of 100 plates each and have one person do one thing, or about 16 feet of linear space if you want to do it assembly line style. One server will be removing the plates and putting lids on them, and one person stacking them on the tray. One experienced server can carry 16 plates. If you don't have the room or the people then you will need three food warmers. These are boxes which you plug into the wall that keep food warm. Once again you plate, you stack, and you store. When it comes time to serve you pull them all out of the warming cabinet and go 16 at a time.

I haven't even yet mentioned dishes, salads, water, wine service, cake cutting, veg and starch, setup and teardown, or hiring temporary staffing, location, possible offsite license, etc.
post #14 of 17
You have posted all the reasons why you should not be doing this

~One week preparation time
~3-4 other people helping
~May or may not have a church kitchen to cook in
~This would be my first
~I am 17

I gave you my opinion from the beginning, get a caterer, you will be still involved, just oversee things. Ask the Caterer if everything is going ok, visit with the guests, you will find just doing that is a job in itself.

Like I said, you have a very big heart , but know your limitations. If you are really serious about cooking, take a course. All good cooks start off doing prep. Are you ready to peel potatoes all day ? Cut onions one after another.....go buy yourself a 20 lb bag of spuds and take a saturday and just peel your heart out. I will guarantee you that it will be a passing fancing. You will not want to look at another potato for a long time.
You are 17, is cooking what you really want to do or were you just so overjoyed at the good news of the wedding that you took it one step further ? You meant well and spoke too fast. It happens to many people, you are not the only one.

Have a wonderful time at the wedding.

The caterers will do a good job.

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #15 of 17

17 Yr Old Caterer

My mouth is hanging open!
From $5.00 pizzas, 2 double cheeseburgers for 2 dollars, and the word "Lower Prices" on every grocery store, I already know the incredibly low value that most people place on food. Now it's confirmed that someone thinks it's so easy to be a caterer that a 17 year old could do it on their first shot for 400 people!

This is certainly a hoax being perpetrated by someone, it can't be true. It's outrageous!

I've owned a successful wedding catering company for 8 years. I've gotten phone calls on Saturday MORNING from frantic people whose friends or church buddies volunteered to cater their wedding, begging me to do something at the last minute. Now, THAT's an expensive mistake!

I'm not even sure someone without experience could pull off hot dogs for 400. Has anyone mentioned FOOD SAFETY? That would be an interesting wedding gift for Dad. The entire wedding ill.

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL CATERER!

Chef Todd Mohr
post #16 of 17
i was talking to my mom this afternoon and told her of a 17yo girl who was considering trying to cater a wedding. she laughed and said it was someone posting BS.

one good thing about unemployment, time to talk to good ol' mom. :D
I excel at sauteeing onions.
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I excel at sauteeing onions.
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post #17 of 17
I was the Exec. Chef at the Largest On Premise Social Caterer in the US in N.Y for many years. Please listen to the people who have responded to you. It has nothing to do with your age, or size, or budget. or ethnics. It has to do with Your Experience, and trust me you don't have it. You do not experiment with a family wedding or with 500 guest who will be hungry.There is no practise run here. LEAVE I TO THE PRO"S be a guest and enjoy the reception.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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