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Cook Talk

September Wedding Buffet/Dinner for 300 @ 7pm
Hi Ellen~We are having a private ceremony and have invited 300 adults to our reception(less than 20 kids from family or wedding party attending). We figure FULL Attendence + and will be serving beer as only alchoholic drink.

We are having Baked Ham and Au'Gratin potatoes and rolls catered. We will serve additionally G-Beans(9 gal), Corn(9 gal), and a green salad option(36# lettuce, 12# cherry tomatoes, 10# shred-cheese, bacon bits 6#, croutons 10# and dressing 3 gal) that we will prepare. Is this enough food/options?

Should I offer "hors d'oeuvres" before meal and would like to offer a soup option during meal to accomodate for vegetarians and special diet needs. My question is how may veggie and cheese trays will I need and how much soup will be needed. Any suggestions for a nice fall soup?

Was planning on serving a variety of desserts: wedding cake, spice cake, carrot cake, and cookies how many will be needed for a good mix? Was also considering placing a fruit tray option during this time as well, how much would be needed? Or not necessary? Will I still need nuts and mints?

Misc-Questions- Would you place s/p and c/s on tables along with utensils since it's buffet style? Will Tea and water be acceptable beverage choices during meal? Additionally will offer Coffee during dessert or would you offer punch or both?

BTW~I am working on my kitchen staff and cleanup crew still. How many would you suggest?
We do not have to set up or breakdown tables, only "remove" everything that we brought in.

Last and final~ Was considering placing small hors d'oeurve trays on each table to save space and ease flow at buffet line. Good idea? Bad idea? We are using 8' banquest tables. Is so, would you say 2 trays per table or 1 tray? What size 6"?

Thanks for your help! Love your site! Lots of great and helpful info!

It is CRITICAL that you have appetizers, and serve them before the meal! This is a huge party, and they will be standing around for nearly an hour after the service while you do photos, etc. and your staff is trying to get the buffet set. Here is a quote from my upcoming article:

A self-catered buffet is a real challenge to the organizers, and things don't always come together as smoothly as hoped. By planning and setting up an appetizer area or "nibble table" which is ready when the guests begin to arrive, the cooks and servers have time to complete the arrangement of the dinner buffet. This is especially critical if there are children among the guests, or there is a wait before dinner, as at a wedding reception.

This does not have to be complicated. Three items, plus a punch, or two if one punch is alcoholic, are sufficient. Typically, include a fruit tray, a cheese tray and an attractive dip or spread; or you can go with a dinner theme such as TexMex with chips, salsas, Texas caviar and guacamole; maybe shrimps if budget permits.

One appetizer service area is needed for each 100 guests.

You can see amounts on the fruit tray page and the veggie tray page. For dips/spreads, 1 pound bread or chips per 10, 1/3 cup per person if there is only 1, or 1/4 cup each for 2. I would not put the appetizers on the tables but in a separate foyer/bar/waiting area, I would keep the guests out of the serving area until the buffet is ready to serve.

For 300 people, with the food only partially dropped off, I would plan on 3-4 in the kitchen and 18-20 experienced servers to set up, serve and clean up. With 300 guests, you need 4 serving lines at least; 6 would be better. These could be 2 or three two sided, but if against the wall, 4-6.

This should include some very experienced people. Culinary schools, local diners that close at 2 pm or active church or school kitchens are some sources for staff.

You are dealing with nearly 500 pounds of food. It takes a LOT of handling.

Baked Ham- 130 pounds, approx
Au'Gratin potatoes-12-14 chafer pans
rolls; need butter- 9 pounds- I would put these on the tables

I would add a pineapple and raisin sauce or some such, it is a party, after all. 1 cup per 5-6.

G-Beans(9 gal), 10. See Ellen's better green bean casserole for a better option
Corn(9 gal), 10

green salad option(36# lettuce, 12# cherry tomatoes, 10# shred-cheese, bacon bits 6#, croutons 10# and dressing 3 gal)- OK
Consider putting plated salads and separate dressings on the tables. People will be sitting at the tables waiting for their turn at the buffet and they MUST have something to eat.

Yes, you put the s/p and c/s on the tables.

Soup, 6 gallons per 100. A butternut squash bisque would be a delightful autumn soup.

Take a look at the dessert planning page for dessert buffets and try a plan, post it and I will check for you.

Beverages; 8 gallons per 100 for punch with the appetizers if you also have beer available. Iced tea, 8-10 gallons per 100, 1/3 unsweetened, either served to the table or on the table, or 2-3 beverage islands (nicer if served to the tables); each island needs a server. Yes to dinner level coffee, see the beverage planning page.

Nuts and mints on the table are nice. 6 pounds each per 100.

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