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low budget wedding for 175

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

HI, I have been a personal chef for years and dabble in catering. I am catering a wedding for 175 in 3 weeks. Traditionally I do not do parties this big and am comfortable under 75. But this is a family friend.....you know the rest....

The wedding is in a tent and there is only one side that is electric available. I am providing stations .There are four main stations: pasta, mexican, asian and salad.

The pasta station will have 2 chefs to cook some pasta to order as well as chafers. I rent a large kitchen ( off-site) to cook out of but there are little facilities at the tent location itself. (Tables, electric and water only.) I have cambro's etc for transportation and renting a warmer. There is a reception that is simple enough but the dinner in the tent has me challenged. They are only having disposables for plates and cutlery.

Here are my questions:

Because it has different themes how many stations for EACH theme do I need to have? Can I get away with one large salad station, one large pasta station etc...or will I need two?

Do I need to have 2 chafers of each item on display?

How many gallons of the "fixings" should I prepare?

 

Do I need to add more selections?

 

It is a fairly basic menu on a budget:

Mexican Station
Sizzling Chicken Fajita with Peppers and Onions
Flour Tortillas
Tortillas Chips
Beans and Rice
Fresh Tomato Cilantro Salsa and Sour Cream (plus 3 extra fixings)

 

Asian Stir Fry Station
Chicken Fried Rice
Chicken Lemongrass Pot stickers with Ginger Soy Sauce
Hot Mustard/Sweet and Sour
Fried Won Tons
Fortune Cookies

 

Pasta Station (2 chef attended)
2 selection of pastas
two different sauces
10 bowls of "fixings" to choose (spinach, peppers, broc, zucchini etc).

 

Salad Station
Medley of Fresh Greens Garnished with Tomatoes, Carrots and Cucumbers, Croutons, Grated Cheese and
Mustard Vinaigrette
Rolls and Olive Oil and Butter.

 

There are two bartenders, a coffee station and Ice Tea/Lemonade station.

Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thank you  

post #2 of 19

Unless you want a Conga Line around the block do double station. Salad,rolls, on each side and chaffers  on each side. Or you can put one station in each corner of room (station style)  Salad Station in middle. What good is one large station when people are lined up, only one at a time can go thru.  As far as quantities they cannott be figured in gallons. If i is real warm out they will eat less. Time of day matters. On the pasta stations you need fry pans and portable gas stoves, same as stir fry and mixican station.  Figure on a total every person will eat approx. 1/2 lb of food. Woman slightly less men maybe more. NO MORE SELECTIONS  you have more then enough. Do not use spagetti to sloppy use penne and bowties or shells easier to handle. Marinara sauce and Alfreddo sauce.  Diced onion and shredded cheddar on mexican with  scallions . Blanch all veges on pasta station a head of time so you can make it quickly on the line. 6 items enough. Fried rice made ahead of time just saute some blanched chicken and veges and toss with rice. If you blanch every thing ahead you will be alright if you dont you will get killed.  The lines should always keep moving.

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...

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post #3 of 19

I'm thinking you should have three sauces for the pasta. Marinara, Alfredo, and a Meatsauce. If you have meat as a topping, that will eat at your budget. They will always want extra meat balls, sausages, etc especially because you don't have any big ticket proteins on offer. You can make the meat sauce as needed to, by adding your prepared meat mixture to a portion of the marinara, bring to heat, etc. 6 selections of toppings is the most that will look nice in a iced down bus pan (unless you want to go crazy with refills). I would go with mushroom (need to be seared off first, they are such a time consumer), mince garlic, plucked basil, dice roma tomatoes, zuchini, brocili.  A dish of parm, and a dish of crushed red on the side.

 

 

Personally, I'd ditch the Asian action station. You can make erstaz fried rice using the pilau method. Easier for you. A curry would stand up nicely in a chafer, either a Japanese or Thai style.

 

 

Taco cart guys are big in catering out here. I'd consider doing something similar for the other action station. Ditch the flour torts, and get the little corn ones. Better port control. You need at least 2 salsas. One mild and one hot. You can use the same base, just add more chili to the other one. Have two meat selections. Carne asada of course. Hopefully you can serve pork because carnitas never dissapoints. If not, you can do chicken thigh like carne asada. One guy can work this.

post #4 of 19

Wouldn't rec. a curry dish curry, as many people do not like it. In metro cities ok out of metro we have found they dont.. This applies to a lot of dishes. Ethnics of crowd as well as age also big factors in figuring quantities. Younger eat more older less.

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...

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post #5 of 19

True, I was just figuring out dishes that would last better in a chafing dish. Japanese style curry is on the menu of just about all Japanese restaurants, and defaults to mild and sweet and it features familiar western vegetables, so I figure it would be a a safe dish for almost any crowd.

 

What other Asian dishes could fill the role? 3 cup chicken?

 

I think that a wilted stirfry would detract from the 'wow' factor, but wth, it's all up to the client in the end.

post #6 of 19

Boned chicken with pea pods and pineapple, chow mein , sweet and sour chicken common things that they see in everyday circumstance but make it better tasting and better looking.

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...

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post #7 of 19

Welcome Amy.....

first let me say that your menu with all the different stations is more than most of us who have catered offsite a very long time would do.....way too many items.

This would not be a low budget wedding, this would be an extremely $$$$ wedding because of all the massive options.

 

First off are your menus set or can you alter them?

 

I'll be in this afternoon and can respond after your answer.

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #8 of 19

Amy - gotta agree with Shroom on this one.  "Dabbling" in catering is great, but going this far beyond your comfort zone can be a recipe for disaster.  No need for any negativity from me, as I am sure you are going to do this job regardless of any feedback from this forum.  Unless you make some changes, there is a good chance you'll crash and burn.  We do a lot of station style menus and we know how to execute, so here's five free minutes of advice from me.  That being said, my advice is quite opposite of some of the above.

 

Edited to add - One of each station will be fine.  You may want to work with the DJ to "release" tables so that everyone will not swarm the stations at once.  But figure everyone wants to eat at the same time.  175/4 stations is approximately 45 people at each station at once (of course I am generalizing).  We've done events of 300-400 with only 3 stations and it can work fine if you design them properly and control the flow.

 

- You have to get rid of the "made to order" pasta station.  No way that 2 people can keep up.  Too many varieties and you'll have a line a mile long.  Even with two chefs with 2-3 pans each, at 4 minutes per order, it could take 2 hours for everyone to get through (figure 4 minutes per order, with 5 pans going at once, you can knock out 5 guests every 4 minutes x 150 guests = 120 minutes).  Instead, consider coming up with two "signature pasta" dishes with set ingredients; have your chefs making them "live" and transfer to a chafer.  Serve from the chafer.  With two lines, you can move people through quickly.  Plus, it will cut down on your prep list.  There's no way you will have all 10 ingredients throughout the whole reception. 

 

- Chicken fried rice should hold nicely.  Have everything ready to go before the event starts.  I assume this isn't an action station, since it doesn't specify that it is chef attended.  Can you nix the fried items?  They will not hold well enough.  Perhaps substitute some steamed dumplings.  They'll hold.

 

- Fajita station?  No idea how you are going to make them "sizzling."  You might want to stick with a chafer for the chicken.  Nix the "extra fixin's.  Stick with what you already have.

 

- You'll probably need around 7-8 servers along with your two event chefs if you want this to move.  You didn't specify how many service staff will be at your disposal.

 

- Cut down on the selections.  You'll be prepping for a week with all of these items (or you'll have a big crew).  On your menu above you have 40 food "components."  That is a big prep list and a lot to transport.

 

What you have is an extremely complex high dollar gig.  Fortunately you can do some trimming and make it a little more manageable.  If you run through each of the stations in your head and put it all on paper, you can make it work.

 

-Kevin

 

post #9 of 19

 

Do I need to add more selections? NOPE

 

How many of you wanna have a station budget offsite tent menu exercise?  Could be fun.....

We can set perimeters, then rift away.

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #10 of 19

Sounds fun. Lets do it.

post #11 of 19

This is really bourgeois, but I really enjoy a mashed potato station. Reg mashed and dirty mashed. Martini glasses.Ice cream scoop,, Large assort of toppings. grave,mush,bacon bits, olives etc.

The last function I attended had it and I really loved it. FYI it was at a nice property with reg banquet menu similar to yours and the potato station was the hit.

I'm guessing it was also cost effective.

pan

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #12 of 19

I thought those were out of style?

 

Glad they're not though.

post #13 of 19

We did a potato station too and the people loved it!  I had one person scooping the potato from a chafer as the guests dressed their own from a round table.  Worked very well.

 

We also did a made to order pasta station for a party of 125.  It did not go well. I had 2 people on 4 burners and they couldn't keep up.  The guests weren't happy, and we ended up running the pasta to the tables.  Waste of time and energy.  Not to mention it was an outdoor wedding in late summer on a lake in NH-  it got chilly very fast and so did the pasta.  I won't do it again.

 

I agree with  Kevin that you have way too many items and you're not going to make any money on this event even if you could manage all the stations flawlessly.  Sit down and cost out all your food and service then see what you'll have to charge per person.  I think you'll find if you give the client a low budget price, you won't see any profit.  I know because I've done the same thing.  After I paid my food service bills and the help, I was shocked to see how little I had for me. 

 

Good luck!  And take advantage of the expertise on this forum;  I've found it to be a lifesaver!

post #14 of 19

Yes the potatoe station is probably out of style. but the OP menu is kinda  the same way.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #15 of 19

My "low end" quote would start somewhere around $5,250, assuming no "gotchas".

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 #16 of 19

I was kinda assuming that since the pasta bar since it appears that it's vegetarian and it isn't the only entree option, that it won't get mobbed. It's no crab legs or lobster tail.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by panini View Post

Yes the potatoe station is probably out of style. but the OP menu is kinda  the same way.



Hey, I don't know from style. I still have neutron pants.

post #17 of 19

Ok.....family friend.....175 guests.....offsite in a tent, 30 minutes from kitchen,   running water on site but no electricity.   Low budget so let's say $25pp for food ONLY.

 

Staff total is 15, paid separate but you say what they do.  

 

Just to make it sane let's say disposables,again you say what's needed.  

 

Stations, you pick themes/decor.  

 

Beverages: $2500 for everything beverage (ice, decor, punch, wine, beer,....etc you choose)

 

Rentals....tables (guest, food, beverage, gift, bar, etc), chairs, fans & or humidifer fans, linens, wine glasses, serving equipment, misc shtuff......low budget so keep that in mind.

 

Decor....describe as best you can, pics are bonus baby!

 

 

 

* It's in the  middle of ultra hot JULY in a tent.....plan accordingly.

 

Wedding on site:

Aps for an hour...you choose stationary, passed or mix.

Dinner stations for 1.5 hours

Cake brought in.....not included in food costs.... remember butter cream does not like heat.....

Beverages go for 4 hours total....talk ice amounts.....

 

* family friends so it's cool to use your equipment and not charge them rental

 

Let's also seriously talk time....so newbies understand how much time it seriously takes to set up a venue and get ready to serve, get staff all on same page......

 

 

 

 

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #18 of 19

I know it cost ,but a tentin July is murder. If it is 90 out it will be 96 in tent. I suggest an A/C Unit for tent. They are doable and rentable ask the tent guru.  If no air you are on the borderline of a fiasco both food and guest.

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 #19 of 19

Ed it all depends on where you are at......Fla is very different than Upper Michigan. 

 

 

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