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Cook Talk

Birthday party from 22.00 till 03.00 for 200
Dear Ellen,

My friend asked me to cater his birthday for 200 people. The party is starting at 22.00 until 03.00 and there will be drinking and dancing. This is my menu and I'm afraid the menu is too small.

It has to be all vegetarian:

Veggie trays with dip

2 to 3 different kinds of Quiches (I wanted to make rectangular ones so I can do straight cuts and have nice slices)

Olives with herbs

Egg-rice empanadas

How much do I need to make? Because the guests already have eaten their dinner, will this make them less hungry? Or does it not matter because they will be drinking. And do I need to add another dish or will this do?

Most of the guests are artists and we are all European, mostly from Holland. I've read somewhere on your site this makes a difference with the food-intake.

Thank you so much in advance.
Best wishes,

Oh, I forgot to mention I will probably get about 25 slices from one quiche.

The size of one slice will be around 1.5 inch x 5 inch.

I've just read your advice on how to cook on a low budget. Maybe quiches aren't such a good idea, I have to think about that one. I can fill the empenadas with other stuff, does not have to be with eggs.
Hi, Conchita,

You are taking on a challenge. People do eat more when they are tired or excited and the guests may be a little of both. You also need 4-5 reliable helpers to set up, serve and clean up this food. To do this vegetarian but stylish at low cost, here are some ideas.

The backbone of the presentation is bread and cheese. The bread you bake yourself. For 200 people, I do 2 serving areas, set up the same, splitting these items:

2 4 pound 4 braid challah
10 pounds of hunk cheeses (one cheddar, one jack, usually)
2 2 pound raisin and chocolate chip rolled loaves with butter cream frosting
2 2 pound rolled cinnamon/ginger/sugar loaves
1 pound hunk sweet butter
3 pound cream cheese loaf with 1 pound exotic preserves poured over- quince, apricot, 3 fruit marmalade, sour cherry or fig
4 2 pound flat breads with topping, big sheets, this can be as simple as sesame seeds and cheese with Italian spice, or sumac and oregano, all the way up to pizza type toppings. These could also be your quiches, but cut 1 1/2 by 2, so they are not floppy.
6 #2-1/2 cans hummus
dried sumac and good olive oil to garnish the hummus
Budget permitting, you can add 4-8 cans of baba ganouj. Garnish with olive oil and fresh chopped parsley
4 to 8 60 roll cans of stuffed grape leaves
These are available at Middle Eastern stores and some restaurant supply stores. Aetna and Aegean and Zafid all good brands. About $8-9 per can. VERY popular. Drain well, dress with some good olive oil and fresh lemon slices.
2-3 quarts good olives- again cheapest and best quality at Middle Eastern groceries.
2 gallons pickled vegetables/ roasted marinated veggies or gardiniera, Again, the brine gardiniera are packed in is very salty, drain, rinse, and re-dress with good Italian dressing.
4 quarts cherry or grape tomatoes to garnish the gardiniera platters.
300 bites of something interesting. These could be your empanadas, done mini- 3 bite size- egg and rice is a great filling

You need an bread knife with each loaf. spoons and spreaders, tongs for the veggies. 400 little plates, 4-600 cocktail napkins.

It is always nice to have one dish of meatish things. These could be falafel, veggie meatballs, etc. If you are feeling ambitious, check out the recipe on this site for Meatless satay:

It is a knockout, can be made well ahead and frozen, and one recipe makes 30-40 cocktail skewers.

Get help, have fun, happy birthday to your friend!

Dear Ellen!

Thank you so much, I have help. 3 for now but it's no problem to find 2 more :)

Thank you so much for your advice. I will donate because you are awesome.

(I know it's a challenge, the party will be on 20th of July and I'm already nervous but your advice will help me a lot)

I asked my friend again if he was sure there would be 200 guests coming to his party. Turns out it will be about 100. Will make it a lot easier for me. (quite a difference 100 or 200, haha)
Yes, 100 is much easier. I think also more fun, since you get a chance to talk to everyone.
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