Cooking - Other

Cooking Tips for a Crowd

Cooking Tips for a Crowd

Leave aside the fun and your enjoyment at the idea of welcoming a party of 35 people whatever your reasons to organise the venue (birthday, baptism, reunion) and just think of your total responsibility to make that day a success. 

So, suppose you have to organize the reception of 35 people in two months. It is your responsibility to be a perfect hostess and no doubt your husband will also take his share of work before and during the event. 

Because this is what it is all about: Ooooooooooooorganisation. As said, you look forward to receiving everyone home. Therefore you ought to study the issue from a technical angle.

Why: because it is essential that this reception be successful and the guests return home having many images burned into memory to remind them, ten years later that this day with you was wonderful.

Therefore, as a staff officer, you must think about the organization. 

Here are a few steps:

1. depending on the pattern of the forthcoming gathering (birthday etc. ..) make a list of guests, including:

 – Couples without children

–  Couples with children

–  Singles

–  Seniors

–  Persons with disabilities, as the case may be.

Split this list between those who live nearby or in your region and those who have to travel from a distance.

 – regarding those who live far away from your home, note those who will be due by car and those who do not drive and will be travelling by train.

– At this stage it is assumed that you have the full list of all people who were informed of your party, invited to it and had confirmed their participation.

 – The immediate question is to think about accommodation, namely:

 – will these remote guests handle accommodation by themselves or will you call hotels in the vicinity to make reservations on their behalf ?

 – As regards those who are likely to arrive by train, will you welcome them at the station and drive them then to their hotel ?

It is essential that you demonstrate professionalism throughout. Your reputation is at stake.

Simultaneously, you can consider different scenarios for the meals, namely:

 – since the reception will be held in the summer (and in principle the weather will be fine) it is quite possible that you would intend to set up your reception outside in your garden with a long table for the adults and a separate table for the children.

–  However, and in order to make sure about protection against any bad weather conditions at that time, your husband might check out on the availability of a canvass-roofed reception hall to be deployed although you might decide to opt for a fast retreat in your home in case of heavy rain. At this stage, it is a matter of budget and comfort to provide.

 – Having cleared the above point, you can now skip to the meals itself:

 a – will be there for a formal meal, like a luncheon or something more casual, like a barbecue?

 b – in the first case, the guests will be seated and in the second, they will walk about in the garden, a glass in a hand, talking away and helping themselves by the barbecue.

It is a decisive choice because in the second case, you can set a table near the barbecue where drinks, plastic plates, china dishes, cups, forks etc will be arranged.. knowing of course that the guests will also find chairs in the garden to sit down and rest.

This second case is quite popular and might be less formal. Barbecues create a real friendly atmosphere while easing with the housewife’s job on that day. Moreover a stereo desk can be set up in a corner to broadcast a little bit of music. On the other hand, children are not required to sit for long next to the adults..

If you opt for a traditional meal (first case), you will need to define an order so that people can feel comfortable enough with their neighbours even though they might belong to the same family.

If you opt for this first case, you must define who will be supposed to prepare and cook the meals and serve. Depending on your cooking skills, you can prepare them yourself, knowing that preparing a whole luncheon (from the appetizers to desserts) for 35 people requests much imagination, skills long in advance and especially during the three days prior to the event.

Assuming you feel ready to cook throughout, you have to make sure about all your appliances in advance….and the cooker too.

Or you can order a full meal from a local Caterer who will offer you a menu to suit your budget. For example, the big Stores have such a service. Your responsibility will be to choose between several menus, expecting the quality to be great, needless to say.

In the case of barbecue, things are relatively simple and you can prepare the meal yourself, the only main condition, however, is that the cook behind the barbecue has got enough experience to avoid blackening meat and sausages.

Let us now examine real-life situations according to the two cases above:

 1. You have chosen the barbecue solution:

 You should check the items below:

–  is there enough space in your garden ?

–  can you have the necessary tables ?

–  can you have music ?

–  will there be enough chairs ?

–  you can have a barbecue or even two to cook meats or sausages separately and fast enough to respond to requests from guests, each having personal requirements ( e.g meat well-cooked, a little cooked etc..).

–  The barbecue attendant must have enough experience as far as cooking is concerned and also know how to make the fire and have enough embers available for as long as required. E.g: I attended a similar party last year when the barbecue attendant put the sausages into the fire in a hurry and made a waste of the barbecue.

–  You will have an extra table for plates, china, cups, glassware, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks too.

– Could a group of elderly people find shelter around in case of too much sun ? What do  you think ?

– Same question with babies.

–  Who will be serving wines and drinks ? Willguests help themselves unformally or is it your husband who will be the sommelier ?

–  If you serve what is called camper wines, plastic cups might be sufficient. Else,  you can use glassware if serving great wines.

–  What will you be serving as a starter ?

– Will there be cheese too?

–  Dessert: let us suppose you will offer fruits, will there be pastries or gateau ? If so, are you ready to make them or will you order them from your local bakery?

–  Meat: It is useful to check whether your guests can have meat (pork, beef etc. ..) or whether some are bound by religious or medical requirements (e.g diabetes) to the extent that they just cannot have what you will be proposing. What can be the substitutes then ?

These are a few hints to help you guide your choice and check your skills.

Reverting now to the first case, that is this luncheon ceremony with a long table in your garden.

Please check:

–  Do you want to prepare the dishes yourself, alone or assisted by someone else?

– When your response is yes, you need to ascertain that all the ingredients will be available in sufficient quantities, that you can also handle cooking and service right from your kitchen to the garden.

– Will you plan to prepare everything yourself (from appetizer through to desserts) or buy some food from your retailer next door still asking a local Caterer to handle part of the culinary preparation (idea)? When you decide to do the whole job yourself, think about proposing a dual menu (including meat and / or fish).

–  When  you decide to use a Caterer (who will deliver all the dishes in the morning of the reception), make sure you have the opportunity to warm up and/or store the dishes in your refrigerator.

– Who will serve at the table? Is it you only or will you be helped by someone else ? It is important that there is a good coordination in the delivery of food to the garden table.

All this matter is actually a question of budget and your own capabilities to handle the whole job on your own, share it with some relatives or delegate it partially or totally to a Caterer locally.

To welcome 35 persons is a real enjoyment and time-consuming job. I did it once for a party of 30 and also offered them to go and taste oysters by the seaside.

You also have the duty to entertain conversations, talk to your guests, amuse them, guiding them through the meals, wines and drinks and act actually like a military commander in charge of the operations.

Think of coffee to prepare and have also enough non-alcoholic drinks available because as the meal is over, guests walking around in the garden will become thirsty, so will the children.

Hoping this information will provide an interesting guideline to you.