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Advices/Help for keeping warm 200 dinner plates

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Good Morning Everybody,

 

My name is Claudia.  This is the first time I am posting a thread here, but I have been reading this forum for months now.

 

I would greatly appreciate any advices/help on how to keep warm or set up 200 dinner plates for an off-site event I am having on February 15.  I have to add that I have done catering for 35-40 people, mostly buffet style, but not for 200 and not for a seated dinner.

 

For this particular event I am serving grilled chicken breasts topped w/rosemary and a lite butter sauce with herb rice and vegetables medley.

 

The event starts at 6 pm but I have to be at the site at 3 pm for set up, as my store is 45 miles away from the event's place.  From 6pm to 7 pm they are going to have a buffet style hors d'oeuvres.

 

The problem that I am having is timing; plating up and traying up the plates while keeping the food warm.  They are going to be seated at 7 pm, after 10-15 minutes opening remarks by the organizers the dinner can be served.  They want me to serve it as quick as I can so by 8 pm they are done eating, no servers are allowed on the floor, so they can wrap up the event by 8:30 pm.  

 

I already decided to pre-set the deserts plates and salad bowls before everybody is seated.  But how on earth I am going to pre-set the dinner plates ahead of time, keeping food warm.  Not to mention that I also have to serve them at the table coffee or tea?!

 

I have 7 people including me at the event.

 

I would be very grateful for any insights you might want to share with me.

 

Claudia

post #2 of 24

Keep bulk food warm in crescors . Keep empty plates hot in closed bakers rack with sterno  Dish out there.    Chicken in one, rice in another, veges in a third Dish out assembly line style,butter sauce  either in gravy boats on table or you put on useing a coffee pot to pour.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #3 of 24

Hi Claudia, welcome to Cheftalk. The 7 people are fine until service time, I would have two separate food lines with at least two to three people on each of these lines, spooning up the plate, setting on trays and kicking them out of the kitchen. If you have 200 people with 8 people per table, is 25 tables, that's a lot of kicking butt in a short period of time. I would get more people involved for the main service, you need to have these trays flying out of the kitchen. Is your question ???????? how do I keep the pre-plated plates (food) warm, or the empty plates warm..What is your dinner menu items to be plated ????????......................

post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thank You very much Chef Billy, for your welcome reply and for your help.  

 

I have 20 tables with 10 people each.  I know is a very short time, that is why I am trying to figure out how can I manage it the best.  I would like to keep this contract for the future.

 

The menu is:  Grilled chicken breasts topped with rosemary and a lite sauce, accompanied by herb rice and vegetables Medley.

 

I had two ideas:  Like Cehfedb replied:  Have the main course with me at 15:00.  Somehow keep the 200 plates warm; put the three items of dinner (chicken, rice and vegetables) in three distinctive chafers, and have two lines of three servers, that makes 6 of us, assembling the plates; and run them out there to the tables, as they are set. That leaves me with only two servers on the floor, delivering the plates.  The questions are:  

 

1.  Isn't it too long of a time - 4 hours - to keep the food on the chafers until I plated?

2.  As I am getting ready the plates; lets say 10 at a time, that means I am serving only one table?!  I do have at the store a cart, with 10 shelves, that can hold two plates at the time.  That makes 20 plates = two tables served.  I do have to finish 20 tables in 20 minutes?!  I am beginning to think that this is going to be ... a challenge!!!!

 

The other idea was to have some of my crew bring the food in at 18:00 in a cambro, this way the food is going to be fresher.  Still I don't solve the platting and serving problem.

 

At this point I can't hire more people.  We are 8 all together.  I know that maybe an alto sham my help me out, but I don't have one, and have no idea if I can rent one how much it will cost me?

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thank you Chefedb for taking the time to answer and for your ideas.

 

If I understood correctly you actually suggest to assembly the plates in a line.  Still the question remains on how to get them out quickly.  And when should I start setting the plates up, since they want the dinner between 19:15 and 20:00, but by 20:00 they want to be done?

 

Once again thank you

post #6 of 24

20 tables to serve in 20 minutes? That is one table (10 plates) every minute and 6 seconds to plate each plate! With six plating, plating time stretches to just over 30 seconds/plate.

 

Unless you can start plating earlier and hold in an insulated speed rack/warming cabinet, you're going to certainly be squeezed with only eight people.

 

My "rule of thumb" for floor servers is 1 server for 15-20 guests, that means you'd need at least 10 on the floor, probably in two teams of five, each serving two plates at a time so a table gets served simultaneously. That gets the "floor time" extended to 2 minutes per table to pick up, deliver, and return for the next sequence.

 

IMHO, you are facing a significant challenge!

 

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
Reply
post #7 of 24

I would delegate the set-up and pre-set salad and dessert, that's a no brainer. As a Chef I would walk in with the Hors'D and the main meal, place the Hors'D on the Buffet and the main meal in Chafers. Spooning up 200 dinners in 20 minutes takes "HANDS" this is the only area of the party that should concern you, it takes people to move food fast, two lines 100 plates per line, kicking out trays FAST, FAST,FAST.......This is the time of service every Chef is concerned about, it is also the part of the service that will make you shine. The Food quality better be there, after all, that's why they hired you. If you never did 200 people before, don't cut yourself short, get some people to help get the meal out....................................................ChefBillyB

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thank You for your reply Pete.

 

Yes, I do know that I am facing quite a challenge.  The thing was that when I drew up the menu and invoice for this event, I have been told that they want a buffet style.  I sent the invoice in, and then I met with the organizers, about 10 days ago.  That is when they told me that they want the dinner seated, and the appetizers buffet style.

 

post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by napolic View Post

Thank You for your reply Pete.

 

Yes, I do know that I am facing quite a challenge.  The thing was that when I drew up the menu and invoice for this event, I have been told that they want a buffet style.  I sent the invoice in, and then I met with the organizers, about 10 days ago.  That is when they told me that they want the dinner seated, and the appetizers buffet style.

 

Change order!!!!

 

Not knowing your time frame, this is a dramatic change from your bid! I would have bumped the bid by a MINIMUM of $500 for the extra staff!

 

Your staff of eight makes sense for buffet service but, IMHO, you are short at least ten (10) servers for plated service!

 

I've done 300 with eight (8) in the kitchen, but there were twenty (20) on the floor, and even then, we ran close to 30-40 minutes to get everyone served (the floor crew was students, not trained servers!)
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thank You Pete,

 

I hear you.... Too late to change order, or to hire some more people.  Mea culpa ... I did not charge enough for 10 people.  My best bet would be to start setting up 100 plates at 18:00, and keep them warm; have them out at 19:00 while continuing doing the rest of 100.  I just have to figure out how to keep them hot for an hour until I put them on table.  I did read somewhere on this forum that I can use an ice cooler with hot bricks on the bottom, and then stack up the plates on top of them....!!!!

 

I don't know just brainstorming here !!!!

 

And yes I have never don 200 people, but I do have to start sometime ... There is not a question of doing it ... I have to ... 

post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thank You ChefBilly,

 

That's exactly how I was planning on doing it ... have the salads bowls, desserts plates, baskets with dinner rolls and butter already set up on the table.  The area of my concern is indeed spooning up the 200 plates and getting them up there fast.  As I was telling Pete maybe the best way is to have a 100 of them pre-plate an hour before, keep them warm, get them out at 7:00 while continuing doing the other 100.

 

I need some of those Mexican beans like in the cartoons to move fast !!!!!

post #12 of 24

Napolic, my wife always tells me " I am a changed man" when we are spooning up a catered party. I told her my regular look is what I look like when I promise someone something, the other look, is how I look when I'm determined to deliver that promise......................I wish you success for your party, good luck and let us know how everything went...ChefBillyB

post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 

LOL!  Thank You ChefBilly .... I should see my look ... I will keep you posted ... and once again, thank you very much for all your help.

 

Claudia

post #14 of 24

Don't attempt to keep the food hot for 4 or 5 hours in chaffers.  Chaffers cook where crescors do not

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thank you Chefedb and thank everybody for your helpful insights.

 

No, Chefedb, I won't keep them warm for 5 hours in chaffers, I realize that I will spoil the food. 

 

I managed to get two hot boxes and 100 lid covers for the plates.  I am going to have the food coming at the site at 17:30.  I am going to have some 6 staff with me in the kitchen and I am going to plate 100 plates before 19:00 and stack them in the hot boxes.  At 19:00 I am going to have the staff getting them out, and continue to do the rest.  I am lucky as 5 of my staff are professional servers.

 

Once again thank you all for your kind replies and advices.  I will keep you posted, just wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed, as I can't.... I will be too busy!!!!

 

Claudia

post #16 of 24

Just a statistic but on a banquet of 1000 guest we preplated  and stacked 300( had no more room for more or any more covers) assembly line style 1 station  took 45 minutes total 5 guys and a plate stacker. It would have been 1/2 that time  had I  enough guys to form 2nd line.. Thats equivalant of 22.2 plates per minute total.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Just a statistic but on a banquet of 1000 guest we preplated  and stacked 300( had no more room for more or any more covers) assembly line style 1 station  took 45 minutes total 5 guys and a plate stacker. It would have been 1/2 that time  had I  enough guys to form 2nd line.. Thats equivalant of 22.2 plates per minute total.

Chefedb,

 

For clarification, was that 45 minutes for 300 plates or for all 1000?

 

And, you had five (5) plating and one stacking, correct?

 

My apologies if I'm misinterpreting, but that 22.2 plates/minute) works out to just under 3 seconds per plate, you've got a great crew! crazy.gif
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #18 of 24

45 minutes is to long for any party, I would have had 4 spoon up stations, serving 250 people per station hitting hem from all four corners of the room. serving time 15 to 20 minutes tops.......................45 minutes, what the heck is the first table that's served going to do waiting over an hour for the rest of the room to be done eating.......

post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBillyB View Post

45 minutes is to long for any party, I would have had 4 spoon up stations, serving 250 people per station hitting hem from all four corners of the room. serving time 15 to 20 minutes tops.......................45 minutes, what the heck is the first table that's served going to do waiting over an hour for the rest of the room to be done eating.......

ChefBillyB, I may be mistaken, but I believe the 45 minutes was for pre-plating, not serving, though I'm uncertain whether it was for pre-plating 300 plates or the entire 1,000 plates, as the post above details.

 

I DO agree with you that 45 minutes is far too long for service, IMHO.
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #20 of 24

45 minutes is not to long. We are doing sit down dinners here not buffets or bar b q. In the hotels in NY almost every social function allowed an hour for plateup... At this particular one of 1000 first, it was off premise second, This is all the crew I had. As I said had I had I would have set up 2 lines. And the 300 preplated is figured  in when I calculate total time to serve, but took additional time to preplate before actual service.Vegas hotels are a bit faster, but they are on premise, pull dish out crew from every department. Have automatic electric conveyor lines. I witnessed a function go out in a leading vegas hotel , it was very efficient and neat and fast.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #21 of 24

This is the reason you go out to the site and figure out whats needed to do this function efficiently. This is all part of the bid process, a 1000 person on premise catering in Vegas may cost $40 per person. The same function could cost $60 per person on a beach in Hawaii, just because of logistics. It's up to me as a caterer to accomplish the more difficult catering with a lot more staff, equipment and concern.....................ChefBillyB

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by napolic View Post

Thank You for your reply Pete.

 

Yes, I do know that I am facing quite a challenge.  The thing was that when I drew up the menu and invoice for this event, I have been told that they want a buffet style.  I sent the invoice in, and then I met with the organizers, about 10 days ago.  That is when they told me that they want the dinner seated, and the appetizers buffet style.

 


Napoli,

I totally agree with Pete......stop them then and there, telling them more staff will be needed, thus an order change.  If it were my gig  and for whatever reason I agreed to roll with the original price for different service, & I wanted the job next year....LET them know this year that the cost with the correct amount of servers would be xyz.   Years ago I'd eat the extra staff charges....bring in the guys I need to make it happen.

 

Plated service is just a pain when you're offsite. Buffet soooo much easier.


 

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hello Shroomgirl,

Thank you for your reply and congratulations on your romantic and yummy Valentine' menu; it delights the senses, as well as the tastes!

You did emphasize a very important aspect: it is an yearly event and I want to keep the contract. So far I have 9 staff including me. I have to pull it off and not anyway but nicely and I think that I can do it. I have very good staff and I am determined.

Although you are right I am going to tell them that I brought more staff then I charged them for; they are going to see it anyway.

Claudia
post #24 of 24

They may not notice....seriously, they may not being paying attention to how many staff are actually there.

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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