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Funeral "Reception"

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

A very close friend of mine recently passed and delegated food to me. As a recent graduate, I am not prepared for a catering, and the family has given me complete reign on what to prepare. The high number is 400 people. The service is at 2 so they don't want a full on meal, just appetizers really. And I have to do all of this from home and the church kitchen. I am struggling because I have no idea where to begin. Obviously I don't want to be too extravagant as I will have only 1-2 days to prep and space is limited. Thanks for your input.

post #2 of 18
Are there any dietary restrictions or general menu guidelines that you know if? What's your budget?
post #3 of 18
You have limited space, time and expierence and probly a small budget with you providing free labor. I would suggest a assortment of cold cuts and cheeses, a couple bound salads, small rolls and bread, LTO platters and condoments. Bottled and caned drinks and the church probly has all the equipment for coffee and tea so all you will need there is to bring the supplies. Some typt of sheet cake, cupcakes or cookies for a dessert. I would suggest paper and plastic for everything since you probly get charged with all the clean up. You may want to ask the church paster if there is a volunteer group from the church that can help out. My expierence in the US is the church ladies can be a great asset is these cases. Good luck to you.
Sorry for your loss.
post #4 of 18

I agree---keep it simple---sandwich fixings---salads---perhaps meat balls in sauce--a sweets table--

 

-400 is a huge crowd for a funeral--if the count is that high--set up several separate buffets---you will use less food and the guests will not be kept waiting---

post #5 of 18

Definitely go for a buffet, and serve as many dishes as you can that don't have to spend your time in the oven or on the stove (Salads, tuna/egg mini wraps, cold cuts, breads), and for the dishes you to have to cook, make things that don't take a lot of time to prep and that can be cooked on large scale in a large pan such as meatballs.

 

here are some buffet ideas

http://www.pinterest.com/tijerina004/party-foods-buffet-ideas/ 

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

They didn't give me a budget at all. They basically told me they trust my judgement and the food was up to me. I was definitely thinking buffet. I catered a wedding before I went to school but that was only for 100 people. The church ladies have volunteered to help and I am sure I can find plenty of others to help as well. I don't have the capability to do a sheet cake, unless I do it at work but tiered event cake no big deal. Aside from crock pots I don't have hot holding equipment, without purchasing or borrowing, so I was thinking foods that didn't necessarily need to be held at a specific temperature. I was thinking about didn't stations. I will be making a trip to the church this weekend so I have an idea of what I have to work with as far as space and equipment.

 

Thank you for your condolences. She definitely left a legacy.

post #7 of 18

You already have some great advice for food. Simple and plentiful should be fine. When making salads remember all the starches can provide a cheap, filling basis to start with. Pasta, Rice and potato with some seasonings and vegetables. 

I'm curious about the money though. Unless you can afford to shoulder the cost yourself, is there any agreement in place for reimbursing you for the cost? Are they giving you an advance? 

I think I would advise you to cost out some food/dishes in advance so they have some warning about the cost involved and you don't get stuck with a huge food bill. Better upfront talk now than issues later. I'm a big fan of stating the obvious now to prevent the inevitable "But I thought it was obvious that… ".

post #8 of 18

Good food advice given so far. Personally for this many I wouldn't try to do too big a selection-- concentrate on

having enough and ease of service. Maybe one or two hot items, (you have an oven available right?) Cook in

batches while the event is concurring. And the rest salads, apps/deli-plate stuff. Church-lady type helpers are

really good for things like standing there cubing up cheeses, and running skewers through plum tomatoes

/salami/olive type appetizers, etc. Simple and purty.

If a self service buffet, plates you use are important--7" not 9 or 10, to keep the plate plops under control.

Served buffet is better control, but ties up more Church ladies. And you need to instruct them on portions--

non-foodie people tend to be over-generous, ultimately waste food and throw off your quantity estimates.

 

Now, it's the 400 people in a "limited space" that has me concerned. Volunteers often have no idea of how an

event like this has to flow, so it's up to you to decide on the setup. And traffic flow is very important here.

Looking at an empty venue, you see space. Filling it with 400 people changes everything. And they WILL be

standing around talking instead of sitting. :o 

 

The trick is to keep your stations (buffet, self buffet, drinks, desserts etc as far AWAY from each other as

possible. Running them all in a nice compact line yields the dreaded 10-letter word--bottleneck (I wish I could make

that flash, with a WAH-WAH sound.) choking off the flow and leaving hundreds of people in a slow moving line.

So while you're looking at the space, see if its possible to spread everything out along the edges of the room.....

with piles of plates, silverware, napkins placed on each food service table too.

 

So we need to know how much space you have for feeding 400 people, even just apps and salads!

And also how much time you have to get all the guests fed and happy.

post #9 of 18

You took on more then you can handle.  Try and buy as much already prepared foods that you can. You alone can't do 400 get some help. And get them to give you the money to buy all the things needed first.

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 #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by DharmaJ View Post
 

 As a recent graduate, I am not prepared for a catering,

I am struggling because I have no idea where to begin. 

I agree with Ed.

 

If you have never done it before , there is nothing wrong with handing the task back to them. Supplying food for 400 is a huge task if you have never done it before. 

Humility plus keeping the friendship should move you to step back. 

 

You're wanting to help at such a difficult time is a great thing though.

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

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

Served Up
(165 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #11 of 18

Finger food is best. Sandwiches is good. If the food will be left out for a while, avoid mayo. Cut them into smaller pieces.

 

Skewers are good. Cold cuts/cheese/veg/fruits.

post #12 of 18

 

If you do decide on finger sandwiches, the way I do it is to put the meat or spread or veggies on the bread dry.

Then provide a condiment station , well and away from the food table, for things like mayo, mustard, etc.

Dry sandwiches are easily pulled apart and added to.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by chefedb

 

 

You took on more then you can handle. Try and buy as much already prepared foods that you can. You alone can't do 400 get some help. And get them to give you the money to buy all the things needed first.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by petalsandcoco

 

 

I agree with Ed.

If you have never done it before , there is nothing wrong with handing the task back to them. Supplying food for 400 is a huge task if you have never done it before.

Humility plus keeping the friendship should move you to step back.

You're wanting to help at such a difficult time is a great thing though.

 

I dunno...I guess I look at catering a bit different than you guys do. I suppose it's because I learned it via the "deep end" method-- 350 hungry Baptists in 105° summer heat for my first event. I learned right then what was being done right, and being done wrong. By my third event I was running it.

To me, 400 is just 100 times 4. Or 50 times 8. The prep isn't much different for smaller vs larger, just takes longer and requires more materials. Now, if you were doing a full on dinner with onsite grilling, and plated etc., I might agree you're in over your head.

 

But I think given the menu plans--salads and finger foods, this event is within your capability--one, because most of it is common sense and staying on top of things. And of course making enough food in the first place. And second, you do have plenty of volunteer help. And once you pull off 400 successfully, you wont be intimidated by large parties again. (And I consider 400 a medium sized party, as I can do it with 2 helpers.) What keeps it from turning to ape-poop is staying organized. Know where everything is at all times, and keep things replenished, before they run out. That dreaded cry: "Hey we're out of such and such!" rising up over the controlled chaos STILL makes my skin shiver.lol

 

However I DO agree with those above that you should price everything first--even with Apps and FF's, 400 people can run in to several hundred, even approaching thousands of dollars, depending on what you're being expected to provide.  Be accurate, add in a fudge factor, and get it all approved before even THINKING about shopping.

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you for all of your advice. You are backing up what I already had in mind. I am not at all concerned that I will not be reimbursed. They said they would either write me a check or go shopping with me to pay for the food. I have participated in several caterings, including a huge local winefest, so I am not unfamiliar with what needs done, I was more concerned with menu suggestions. I am thinking a dip, veggie and cheese platter... those kinds of things. I would assume the church has an oven but will find out for sure this weekend.

post #14 of 18

Dharma'

 

OK, you've got us all on the edge of our seats...

 

Please let us know how it turned out!

 

Mike

Well, if it was a disaster, you could lie a little!  ;)

travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #15 of 18

Nah...we're all pretty much disaster-friendly in here too! :D

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 

Aside from the pushy church lady who kept trying to change the way I wanted to do things, it went great!

 

I made a roasted cauliflower and white cheddar dip, an apple, bacon and leek tart on puff pastry, spinach garlic mashed potato bites, chocolate back, Hawaiian dream bars, and an awesome fruit display with toasted meringue. As well as rolls, crudites and a meat cheese platter. 

post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by DharmaJ View Post
 

Aside from the pushy church lady who kept trying to change the way I wanted to do things, it went great!

 

I made a roasted cauliflower and white cheddar dip, an apple, bacon and leek tart on puff pastry, spinach garlic mashed potato bites, chocolate back, Hawaiian dream bars, and an awesome fruit display with toasted meringue. As well as rolls, crudites and a meat cheese platter. 


Haha, I was getting that kind of "expert advice" from HIRED helpers, brand new to the business....they seemed to

instantly see all the BETTER ways of doing it!

Menu sounds diverse and interesting. Glad it was a success. :thumb:

post #18 of 18
Sounds divine well done
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