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Frist time catering, need some feedback on quantities.

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Greetings Chefs,


I own/operate a food cart and have my first larger size catering gig coming up (100 person wedding of a friend of a friend, most I've done so far is 30 people) and would love some feedback on quantities. The food cart/menu is Indian inspired and since it's very hot, I'm sticking to salads and mostly cold items except my rice and chicken. 


- Grilled tandoori chicken drumsticks - 60lbs (I serve these at my cart and they are farily large run about 3 drumsticsks per lb, I serve 2 per plate at the cart)
- Fried basmati rice - 25 cups raw
- Shredded slaw with lime-turmeric dressing - 20lbs (Also another cart menu item, comes out to about 2 lbs per quart)
- Mixed lettuce/greens salad - 10lbs lettuce mix from my farmers market, 3 lbs cherry tomatoes, 3 lbs lemon cucumbers
- 5 quarts salad dressing (Medium thickness, strawberry-lemon-cumin)
- 12 lb grilled and chilled spicy shrimp for salad topping (21-25/lb count)
- Yogurt raita with seasonal roasted veggies - 2 gallons yogurt, 3 lbs zucchini, 3lbs eggplants,
- Various chutneys (green mint and chilli, tomato, seasonal TBD fruit) - 2 quarts each


Does this seem like a good ammount, too much of certain things, too little of other things?


One thing related to this that I can't seem to figure out searching online is how many lbs of food can I put into a chaffing dish w/o it breaking? This will help me determine how many hotel pans (and cambro carriers) to rent.


Thanks Much!

post #2 of 4

I hope all is well in Portland. I drove through there as fast as I could yesterday coming from the coast. The Tandoori Chix could be stacked in a 2" hotel pan without to much of a problem. I would cover it with foil until service. I don't like the idea of holding the chix for a long period of time because it will dry out. A dish like Chicken Tikka Masala would hold better because the chix is in a sauce and in most cases even gets better. When I first started catering I would take a portion of things like salad and try to figure out the size of portion people will take. when I figure that out I weigh it and then multiply the portion times the amount needed for the function. In your case that would be if salad is 1.5 oz per person or 10 portions per pound equals 10 lbs per 100 people. It also depends if the whole meal is going on one plate. In some cases I set up my buffet with a salad plate and then a dinner plate for the main entrees. There are many things to think about when doing a catering. Logistics and knowing what to do in advance could make or break a catered function. I'm having a hard time seeing the presentation for the Yogurt raita with seasonal roasted veggies. It may be a nice idea to skewer the vegetables then roast and drizzle the yogurt sauce over it at service. Just think of how a person will walk through a buffet line and attack the buffet. I try to fail safe all the dishes I present in advance to avoid a dish being mishandled. If you have something on a skewer they take one and move on without screwing up the appearance of the entree. Back to the Chix legs, if you get a 2" hotel pan, layer raw legs across the bottom and see how many you can fit from side to side. Lets say you get 6 legs across the bottom 4 times, thats 24 legs per layer. This amount figuring three layers would feed 2 legs per person per pan. The Rice is about right with figuring 1lb raw yielding about 4 cups cooked. The salad dressing looks good also figuring a 2oz ladle. The Seasoned shrimp you have figured 2 3/4 shrimp per person. How is this being served ?? If it's in a bowl for people to serve themselves, I would worry about the portion. They could take twice that amount. The thing I'm trying to get in your mind is to picture in your mind how the dish will look on the buffet. Then figure how the customer will spoon the dish onto their plate. You want the spooning of each dish to be easy. You also don't want things like cole slaw to be running into other items on the plate. In some cases so the customer can move through the buffet faster I would pre portion to keep messy items contained......When is the function, how many plates as in salad and dinner or all on one ????? I hope some of this helps.........ChefBill

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the detailed reponse Chef. Yeah, the logistics are the thing stressing me out the most...cooking seems like the easy part.


I was planning on doing the chicken in 4" hotel pans so I don't have to use as many chaffers (the wedding is at someone's house and they have a limited ammount of space for me to setup). It has a glaze on it that keeps it moist, I've had no problems holding it and having it dry out with my other smaller gigs. I'll be setting up the last 30 minutes of the ceremony and dinner will be right afterwards so I imagine people will work through the food very quickly.


I was imagining a 1oz laddle for the dressing, but 2oz seems like a better option.


For the shrimp, I'm going to go to my purveyor and see about other options for sizes, i.e, more per lb. I could also make skewers of these...a lot more work but might be worth the security to not run out.


For the raita, I was planning a sort of a rustic "deconstructed" dish, with cubes of the zucchini in the hotel pan and a spiced roasted eggplant yogurt drizzled on top in layers but the skewer idea does seem better.


For holding cold items, is the standard practice to just put ice + water in the chaffing pan? I looked at renting a buffet bar but I don't think I've got the space to set one up at the site.


The function is in two weeks (August 20th), so I have this week to make my final orders and such.


Thanks again.

post #4 of 4

I think your in good shape understanding whats important to think and rethink to insure you keep the quality of your food intact. If your able to keep all your cold food cold until service I would worry about icing it at service. If your traveling with the salads and they will be losing their chill for a long period of time you will need to be concerned about keeping them cold. In most cases a smaller salad bowl placed into a larger salad bowl with crushed ice coming up the sides of the smaller bowl. The only time you really need to worry about this is when you have to keep your buffet out for long periods of time. When I cater I want to serve fast and get everyone through the line asap. The quality of some items will only last so long. If you have held your Tandoori Chix for a period of time and are satisfied with the quality you'll be fine. The problem with being a beginner caterer is " You don't know until you know" and that can be to late. If your not sure about something always ask questions. This will give you more information to offer the best items for your catering's and also feel good about making sure you can provide the quality of food you desire........Take care..........Chef Bill............P.S. Make a diagram of the buffet and measure the size of the bowls and chafers so you know how much space is needed for your food presentation. Also figure if you need table skirting and flower decorations. Remember this is your time to impress. All of your questions should be answered before the function. No surprises on the day of the wedding.

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