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Cook Talk

Soup n Sandwiches for 300
Our friends are having a 300 guests, noon, wedding reception. They want a chocolate fountain with fruit, cream cheese pinwheel roll ups, meatballs, and veggie cream cheese pizza for appetizers.
For the main feature, they want cream of potato soup and broccoli cheddar soup. Do you think 27 gallons of broccoli cheddar and 9 gallons of potato, is an accurate estimate??? I tried using your chart, to figure it.(self serve)
And your chart for soup crackers, for 100 people, 6 pounds, is that for saltine or oyster crackers?
They are also planning on chicken croissant sandwiches and pulled pork barbecue on buns. Would it be accurate to buy 100# raw n boneless pork shoulder for 200 self serve sandwiches, and 25# canned chicken for 1/2cup (4oz), 100 chicken salad sandwiches? Or do we need to add more meat to eat, because of buffet serving? (The 200 is assuming that 2/3 of people would choose pork over 1/3 choosing chicken salad!
Thank you for your help.
Hi, Lynn,

This menu needs a little work- for example, you don't want to do cream cheese pinwheels and cream cheese pizza together, and you need at least one non-dairy soup (three would be typical for this size crowd; one meaty, one creamy, and one vegetarian and dairy free.). The chocolate fountain needs to go on the dessert side of the menu, not appetizers, and is HIGHLY impractical for a 300 person reception, unless you are willing to do 3 fountains. A chocolate fondue might be possible as part of a dessert buffet. A fruit tray would be a wiser choice for the appetizer tables, and you will need 3 appetizer areas for 300 people.

In addition, a party this size needs a day-of staff of 4-5 people in the kitchen, at least 18 out front to set up, serve, and clean up. None of these can be wedding guests, as they need to work during the wedding service. You also need at least 4 serving lines for this size crowd, and 6 would be better, as soup is a slow serve. This could be 2 or 3 double sided lines, if space is an issue.

With the sandwiches, for 300 people, you need to plan for at least 330 full size sandwiches, and I am currently suggesting 2 slider size buns per person. You also need a small amount of meatless filler, such as cheese, egg salad or unchicken/seitan.

You need a starchy side dish or 2, potato, bean, or pasta salad or dish; a salad or veg;
sandwich condiments.

The crackers are 6 pounds per 100, no matter which type you choose.

You are talking a quarter ton of food here, not counting beverages, so it would be helpful to review the kitchen and storage arrangements also.

Not saying it is not possible; but this size party is a real pro effort, and can be a disaster in less experienced hands. Please write back.

Thank you for your help.
The wedding meal is at 4:30pm and 250 guests, now.

For the appetizers:
18# Keebler type crackers
24# Cubed cheese
1,140 meatballs in sauce
60# red grapes
Pinwheels (bride's friend is making)
(Vegetable pizza only being made for 18 in bridal party)
The chocolate fountain has been removed from the reception.

20# raw veggie tray
24 quarts/12# vegetable dip
32 gallons total of soup (cheddar broccoli, chicken noodle, & cream of potato)
18# oyster crackers
320 Club rolls for sandwiches
90#raw/75# cooked, pulled pork for sandwiches
7 gallons barbecue sauce for pork
37# canned chicken for chicken salad sandwiches

Cupcakes: vanilla, chocolate & carrot cake (bride's friend making these)

24 gallons of lemonade
Iced tea and water
Coffee & cream

We plan on having 2 appetizer & drink areas. Also 2 double serving lines(4 total).
There are 3-4 girls waiting on the bridal tables(although bridal party is going through the buffet line first) and the girls will help serve the cupcakes to everyone.
Family /friends are setting up the wedding, tables/chairs. The groom's mom has made the pulled pork, meatballs, sauces, and veggie pizza.
The soups are all frozen from Panera, and made, other than chicken noodle(family has made).
There are 4 people to warm food, refill chafing dishes, and clean up kitchen (pots, pans, dishes).

Good progress.
The food is getting close.

18# Keebler type crackers- OK
24# Cubed cheese- OK
1,140 meatballs in sauce- at least 30 pounds with 9+ quarts sauce
60# red grapes- OK, be sure you get seedless, and cut into tiny bunches. If grapes are pricy, add some strawberries
Pinwheels (bride's friend is making)- 2-3 per person
(Vegetable pizza only being made for 18 in bridal party)
The chocolate fountain has been removed from the reception. Good choice!

20# raw veggie tray- add at least 1 classic relish tray or increase the veggies to 30
24 quarts/12# vegetable dip- 12 pounds is only 6 quarts, and 12 is plenty
32 gallons total of soup (cheddar broccoli, chicken noodle, & cream of potato)- 25-28 enough
18# oyster crackers- OK
320 Club rolls for sandwiches-OK
90#raw/75# cooked, pulled pork for sandwiches- OK
7 gallons barbecue sauce for pork- 5 should be plenty if the meat is already sauced
Suggest you have 5 gallons of fine slaw with this
37# canned chicken for chicken salad sandwiches-OK, some left
You might add chips- 1 pound per 15, or potato or pasta salad, about 10 gallons

Cupcakes: vanilla, chocolate & carrot cake (bride's friend making these)- lots of people will take 2-

24 gallons of lemonade - OK
Iced tea - about 24 gallons, 1/3 unsweetened
water - 2 bottles per person
Coffee & cream- see beverage planning page, dinner coffee
1/2 pound ice per person, approx

My biggest concern would be staffing- I was NOT kidding when I said you need 4 people in the kitchen and at least 12 to serve and clean up. your 4 people are simply not enough.

Hope this works well for you. Write back if you need to.

How do you recommend reheating thawed pork, thawed meatballs, & thawed soups?
Will the quarts of sauce be enough to heat the pork in roasters or do we need more?
How long will it take to reheat pork, meatballs & soups and at what temperature?
We have about 8-10 roaster ovens, at the site, and a 4 rack convection oven. Also a commercial stove top and oven.
The appetizers are for 4pm, and entree 4:30pm.
I freeze the pork in some sauce, the BBQ sauce here is what goes on the tables or the serving table for time of serving. My past experience is that dry meat (meatballs, pork/chicken) takes about 3 quarts per 10 pounds to moisten.

Thaw all the items in the fridge. Large amounts usually take 48 hours or more. Transfer to preheated roasters; pre-heat roaster to 450, turn to 325 when you put the food in, and drop to 180 when the item reaches 160 in the middle. Use the thermometer. I allow at least 5 minutes per quart to heat- 1 to 1/2 hours per roaster. Must be covered. Thicker items take longer and ALL need to be stirred thoroughly but quickly both around the sided and up from the bottom.

You can only do about 20 pounds in a roaster. You could rent soup pots for the soup, hold the heat better.

Pork could be reheated covered in the regular oven, less chance of scorch, and then transferred to roasters.

Check the wiring at the site- even heavy duty usually can only do 2-3 per circuit. Household circuits can only do 1...

Is it possible to warm the soups, in the roasters, at a lower temperature, for a longer period of time?

If we used the roasters for soup, only, could we use the convection oven for the meatballs and pork, covered in the 7 quart pans, that will be able to go directly to the chafers?
What temperature and how long would you recommend?

If we have 36# of meatballs, would 4 quarts of grape jelly/chili sauce, be enough to cover them?

You had mentioned strawberries, to add if the grapes are high in price. Would it be correct to have 45# of grapes and 15# of strawberries? (making it like 3oz of grapes and 300 strawberries)

Thank you for all your help! Your tables and threads have been a huge help, in calculating everything!

Yes, that is a fine plan using the roasters and the convection oven.

I would cut the grapes to 50 and do 2 strawberries per person- just count one, varies from shipper to shipper.

Appetizer meatballs, 25 pounds is OK, you need 10 quarts of sauce.
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