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Timing for 4 action station reception for 250

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello all, this is my first time posting but I've enjoyed reading through threads. I've been catering for 2 years officially, 10 years unofficially. Next May I have my first "action station" reception for a pair of world travelers. We'll have four stations; American (tri tip and mashed potato bar), Asian (sushi and Asian cabbage salad), Mexican (chile verde street tacos, sweet corn tomalito cake) and Italian (pasta station with focaccia bread sticks). For 250 guests, the flow is a concern to me. How much time would you allow for this? How would you dismiss and instruct guests? We are hoping guests will visit 2 stations at a time with dinner size plates to avoid having to rent 1000 small plates to go at each station, but that presents problems of it's own. Have a couple of plate tables in between the stations? It's not for another 7 months, but it's already keeping me up at night thinking about it. I'd appreciate any feedback- Thanks!

post #2 of 11


Stations as you state should be in the 4 corners of the room . This is to stop lines from forming which is the last thing you want. It disperses the people. 259 guest arriving all at once will create havoc if they all congregate in 1 place.

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 11

That's right, its all about space allowed. If youre being given a 70 x 70 ft space for service, you should be fine.

OTOHand, if you're cramming 4 stations into a 25 by 25 space  youre gonna have a problem with flow.

And in that scenario the plate station in the middle will prob aggravate it--would be best if possible to

position plates at the entry end. You might even need a "wait here" point at the end of plates to allow the

buffet lines to clear a little-- whatever works for the space.

 

But it sounds like a potentially nice gig if you pull it off smoothly. The setup sounds similar to standard all

you can eat buffet type restaurants. And they go through a LOT of plates, even running out occasionally

and having to wash up more.  However from my experience most people WILL combine "countries"
(different cuisines) on one plate. And they tend to load their plates well so they can sample many items.

My opinion is that only about 15 - 20% will actually grab a new plate and go back for

items they missed.

Also, you didn't mention whether dessert was being served as well......and they WILL grab a clean plate

for dessert.

 

I also picture the need for a constant bus person as well as an out of the way bussing station. Which should

be well marked, because  some guests will always go on their own "quest" to try to drop off their own dirties. 

You also need to watch the trash cans closely for flatware. lol

 

If I were you I'd plan on 400 to 500 plates. If many sit around in crates clean, well so be it, at least you

had them. Nothing like running out of dinner plates with no way to clean and having to resort to paper or

napkins to make the whole affair look poorly planned, cheap and amateurish.

As to time duration I would allow at least 2 hours for this service, closing stations toward the end that got

most "wiped out".

Hope that helps for the info you gave.

post #4 of 11

MollysMom.....

 

Will you be offering anything else besides the international stations?  Salad? Desserts, Bread?

Will these action stations have some kind of cooking going on where the guests have to wait for their plate?

Do you intend to have these action stations "manned?"

Having a person handling the stations will help the flow somewhat, as you will always have those that take a little more time then others to get through the lines.

 

Another thought about the plates.  If indeed the clients are "world travelers" they are going to be more than likely to use one plate at one time, meaning they will NOT fill up with multiple foods on only one plate.

 

I love the creativity here but logistics must be addressed.

post #5 of 11

You also need to address how fast you can get your guests through the action stations.  For the sushi of course you can make ahead a few, and one roll will serve 2-4 people.  So one person will do for the sushi.  For the tri-tip use a heat lamp of course and you can start pre slicing.  Not a problem.  The tomatillo cakes might take a while to cook on a griddle so maybe pre cook a few, make them small, make sure you can put 20 on your griddle, or something like that.

 

Your big problem is going to be the pasta.  Your pasta and sauce needs to be hot so whatever you use, chicken, shrimp, can be quick sauteed and the pasta heated up quickly in the pan.  You might need six burners and three people for this station if you want to keep the flow.

 

And of course, everything that was said above this applies too.

post #6 of 11

As Kuan says your biggest problem is Pasta Station  . You need 2 cooks  and at least 3 or 4 chafers. Cook the pasta in 10 or 12 inch sauté pans then transfer to chafer. This way you will never have a line and never run out.  Make sure you have a runner for food from kitchen to buffet, plus people just picking up soiled plates.

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 #7 of 11
Quote:
Another thought about the plates.  If indeed the clients are "world travelers" they are going to be more than likely to use one plate at one time, meaning they will NOT fill up with multiple foods on only one plate.

Good point Chef--if  that is the more likely case, then I would consider using smaller plates, say 7",
with a stack of plates at each of the 4 stations. And setting out the same number at each station will have the

added strategy of giving you an idea how much attention each station is getting.

post #8 of 11
Was gonna chime in yesterday re: smaller plates.
In total agreement.
Number one the small plate is very in at this time.
Number two it makes most of the sheeple take a plate and go sit down or move away from the stations further reducing the potential for congestion and long lines.
PITA but IMO makes for a more pro event.

mimi
post #9 of 11

I see your chime and raise you one ringing alarm clock.....

 

True that, but they'll no doubt use even more of the smaller plates.

Haven't heard back from the OP, but would be wondering myself

if they wouldn't be open to the possibility of using the classier, but

disposable, plates. There are some real purty ones now.

 

Also, with a small plate for each station, they're bound to grab new silverware

as well....or at least a fresh fork. So that's a LOT of flatware as well.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your replies. I don't know how to link to a previous post, but I'll try to address questions that have come up. It gives me a lot to think about. I was planning on having one "action" person and two servers at each station. That would theoretically give me 8 spots for lines to form. The couple is very casual and don't seem to think their guests will have a challenge combining at least two stations per plate. I think I will plan on having a supply of nice disposables just in case. I wasn't even thinking about additional forks, so that is a great point! The Asian Station will feature a salad, and we will be having an ice cream sundae bar later in the evening for dessert. I'm glad I have until May to get this ironed out! The room is a hexagonal shape and is 47' x 38', so it sounds like room will be an issue :-/ I would prefer individual small plates at each station, but price is a factor. They are going way over budget on the food because they loved it all  and don't want to downsize the menu and so are trying to keep other costs down. We may need to renegotiate. 

 

One further question; would you dismiss guests differently for this type of service or would it be the same as a buffet, a few tables at at a time? Thank you again!

post #11 of 11
The additional set ups are an additional problem I did not consider.
Re the invite to dine... educate the couple and give them a few options on how to handle it.
A good solution might be for them to slip it into their welcoming speech.

mimi
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