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Cook Talk

Self catering at ourdoor venue with no kitchen
Susan B
01/27/10
I am planning (along with the help of friends) my daughters buffet wedding reception for 150. We have planned lasagna, meatballs in sauce, penne with chicken and alfredo sauce, salad, stuffed mushrooms, bread. This is an outdoor event where there are NO kitchen facilities of any type. The lasagna and meatballs are my job. I plan to cook sauce and meatballs 2 weeks in advance and freeze, then prepare lasagnas the day before, store in fridge and bake the next day. 2 questions: 1. Should I add another entree, such as sausage/peppers/onions? 2. After baking the lasagna at home in the morning (this is a 6 p.m. wedding) how should it be stored for safety purposes? I plan to rent a warmer to have at the venue and chafing dishes for serving? Are these sufficient on the site for food safety? There will be a few hours in between cooking at home and travel to the site.

Thanks
Susan

ellen
01/28/10
Well, this is not the menu I would have chosen for this situation. You have several casseroles which MUST be refrigerated or held below 40 degrees until heated, then heated above 180 in ovens before being placed in the chafers, and held at this temp once heated; they take an hour to heat up and one warmer probably won't do it. There are commercial hot boxes called cambros which caterers use to hold things at these temps for transport.

If you have electricity at the site, you might consider the 18-20 quart electric roasters.

ellen
01/28/10
By the way, I would not add any more cooked food. Look at the appetizer page and add an antipasto tray with meats and cheeses if you want more.

It is a bad idea to bake the lasagna in the morning for a 6 PM service.

Susan
01/28/10
What is a menu for a buffet meal you would consider for this site? A change in plans: A friend will bake the lasagnas just before bringing to the site. He has access to commericial ovens for this. I had planned to rent a cambro. If they are brought straight from oven to site, held in a cambro as they're being served (no longer than an hour probably), and served in chafing dishes, would that be OK?
ellen
01/28/10
Very good change on the lasagna! You won't be sorry.

The menu would depend on the season, but on the grounds that it is easier to keep things safely cold than hot, I would have opted for either the lasagna or the penne but not both and added a room temp entree or a chilled entree such as a smoked whole salmon, seafood salad (crab or shrimp if the budget permitted) or a full antipasto with the salami, cheese, etc. A marinated artichoke heart salad or bruschetta?

Susan
01/29/10
Thanks for your help on this Ellen. Looking at your site had gotten me really worried about food safety. I had only included the penne dish because I thought some would like a non-tomato option. I will consider the changes you suggested. Do you think my new lasagna plan food is safe enough?
ellen
01/29/10
Yes, it is fine. I have a good food safety article on this site, good reading.
Silvia
04/26/12
I have a small gathering, 30 people and making lasagna...plan to make the lasagna 2 or 3 days in advance, refrigerate and bake 1 hr before the event and put in chaffing dishes right away...any comments ?
ellen
04/26/12
If it has been refrigerated and is in any pan larger than 9x13, allow at least 1 1/2 hours. You can always turn down to 180 to hold.
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