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Cook Talk

Self catering a wedding reception for 400
Linda Hupp
Our menu is 60 lbs of ham, 100 lbs of smoked brisket, red baby potatoes in creamy white garlic sauce, sweet corn, green beans, a mixed fruit salad and dinner rolls. I needed to know if you had a recipe for the potatoes and how many would fit in an 18quart roaster and lastly how long to cook/how to cook them up. I am planning on 1/2 cup of vegies and fruit per person. We are serving 400 people. How long will it take to warm up the vegies in the roasters? Anything else for suggestions? Thank you.
Linda, this is not enough meat for a buffet service. You will have to have at least 6 people and 6 ovens in the kitchen and 24 people out front to set up, serve and clean up this size party, and the pay is 100-175 per person, depending on job. They can't be part of the wedding party, they will be setting up during the service.

In addition, if you want to serve everyone in less than an hour, you will need at least 6 serving line (or 3 double sided). 8 serving lines (4 double sided) would be better.

Finally, with this many people, an appetizer plan is essential and here is why:

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 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; Italian with bruschetta or antipasto; maybe shrimps or other cold seafood, if budget permits.

One appetizer service area serves about 100 guests. You would need at least 3, and 4 would be better.

Now about the dinner:

60 lbs of ham, 80 pounds
100 lbs of smoked brisket, 190 pounds raw weight, at least 130 ready to . Brisket is a coarse raw meat that shrinks about 40 percent, and people take large portions. Suggest you have servers for the first round

red baby potatoes in creamy white garlic sauce, 160 pounds potatoes, 12 gallons sauce
Most rooms have only one electric circuit and you can only plug one roaster into a circuit, or it blows and shuts off everything. You would have success, if you heated on the stove or in the oven and transferred to hot chafing dishes. It takes about 45 minutes to heat up the chafing dish and 2 sternos for the typical dinner, you need tongs to get the hot empty sternos out and put the fresh ones in. A chafing dish holds about 24-28 servings of vegetable. They can be rented, but plan ahead.

sweet corn, 22 pounds per 100
green beans, 24 pounds per 100

mixed fruit salad, use the fruit tray page and expect 8 pieces per person

dinner rolls, 50-60 pounds, 12 pounds butter. Suggest you put these on the tables, as people will have quite a wait for turns in line.

Hope this helps!
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