Notes on putting together large food events

This is an emerging page on how to throw together the following events for several hundred people. This information has been collected from old e-mails and other notes over the years.

Fathers' and Sons' overnight outing (breakfast)

This goes pretty much the same as the Pioneer Day celebration to which we invite the whole neighbhorhood. However, the numbers are much smaller, more like 30-50.

Pioneer Day breakfast

Expected number of attendees was 200. Actual number attending unpredictable, dependent on weather, venue, advertising and just dumb luck. Approximate cost (in 2011) was $225 of which $75 was milk and juice. We elected against bacon because of expense. Most if not all shopping done at Sam's Club in East Bay.

Shopping list

Scrambled Eggs Recipe

The scrambled eggs were executed by five persons at home just in time for breakfast.

  1. In a large bowl, beat eggs.
  2. Beat in half-and-half.
  3. In a large, non-stick pan, melt butter/margarine over medium-low heat and pour egg batter.
  4. Scrape bottom and sides continually in order not to burn.
  5. While still not stiffly cooked, remove to bowl. Eggs should be creamy not dry. They will continue cooking even after removal from heat, so under-cook them a bit (remove before all runningness gone).
  6. Bring to breakfast as soon as possible.


On-site cooking of hashbrowns and pancakes requires at leat 3 multi-burner propane cooking stoves. Please note that extension cords and electric griddles will not work as the extension cords drop the electric current so dramatically as to make already inadequate equipment (home electric griddles) completely incapable of even drying out the batter let alone cooking it into pancakes.

For mixing pancake batter, you need a) lots of clean water and b) really serious bowls because mixing is stressful. You cannot use ad hoc foil or aluminum containers if you're busy cooking and don't want to waste time compensating for bad tools. Also, don't try to use balloon wisks unless they're very large, strong and have few tines. However, using a spoon is very strenuous. A potato masher works well for reducing the clumping.

Proper spatulas from restaurant supply stores (or Sam's Club) are indispensable and inexpensive. Home kitchen spatulas are not really good. You're miles ahead to keep a little good equipment on hand.


In the end, we had left over from the shopping list:

Frozen hashbrowns will thaw out of the freezer around 0630 ready for cooking at 0830 in the ambient heat (on a garage floor). They were Ore-Ida and the resulting product was very good.

Saturday-morning Christmas breakfast

The major quality concern with a breakfast when eggs of any sort are going to be served is to avoid over-cooking them. This is a good idea even at home (and people always over-cook them even there when they'll be served almost immediately), but at a public event, the eggs are usually ruined. Most people just tolerate this and are so used to it that they think over-cooked eggs are normal...

...but eggs and egg dishes are so much better when not over-cooked. Just remember to stop cooking long before it's supposed to be done because the cooking process itself will not stop. So, if it's going to take time to get the product to the table and serve it to people, pull it off the stove, out of the oven, etc. well ahead of time. Let the residual heat finish the job.

Shopping list

Ham and egg brunch



Ham and egg brunch recipe

Include sausage, green peppers, onions or other ingredients as desired.

  1. Spray 9"×13" pan with Pam.
  2. Mix 6 slices of cubed bread and 1 lb. cubed ham.
  3. Beat 6 eggs and mix with 2 cups milk, mustard and salt.
  4. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese.
  5. Pour melted butter on the top.
  6. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Bake uncovered at 325° for 1 hour.

Breakfast another year (2010 and 2011)...

...a hashbrown-based dish called a monster mash was served with a training meeting where its manufacture was demonstrated to (hungry) participant cooks. This was a really good idea because it raised the quality of the dish while still letting some individual interpretation create an assortment at the breakfast.

Shopping list

...for the monster mash year was:

The following year, also monster mash, the shopping list was multiplied by 1.25 because of an expected increase in attendeeds. The number of attendees was estimated to be 300. There were 11 monster mash cooks. There were hashbrowns left over, oranges ran out very quickly, milk wasn't quite enough and the cinnamon rolls ran out (some got seconds, this aided in the estimate of how many people attended). The cost was circa $700 (2011)

Conclusions were drawn that the cost might be reduced if no bacon were included, a greater variety of monster mash be made as some don't like bell peppers, salsa might have been offered.

Notes on preparing monster mash (from a hand-out)

The Simple Steps

What can I do the night before? Plenty. And this will make your Saturday morning stress very light indeed.

You can and should do the following mise en place and store the result in the refrigerator for the next morning.

Cook bacon very crispy, drain and cut into ½" or so bits (don't powder it.)
Grate the cheese (if I failed to get a good deal on pre-grated cheese).
De-seed peppers and dice.
Chop onions to match what you cut the peppers into.
Slice mushrooms.

Keep this stuff in separate plastic baggies in the refrigerator or a cold garage.

On the morning of, about 90 minutes before the breakfast, do the following cooking in the following order. Do not toss anything until everything is done and placed into the large delivery pan.

  1. Begin by clarifying the onions (turning them translucent) in a bit of butter. You can hasten this process by adding just a tiny bit of water and covering.
  2. Add in peppers; sauté just until they begin to soften a bit (don't let them get mushy).
  3. Turn peppers and onions out atop the hashbrowns in the transport container.
  4. Sauté sliced mushrooms until they start to soften, then turn them into the delivery pan.
Finished product

Sprinkle bacon and grated cheese over everything and carefully reach under the whole, lift and toss just until good distribution of ingredients is attained.

Scout fundraiser dinner

From April, 2010, executed in a catering kitchen by volunteers. It came off very well, if a lot of work.

Usually, this was spaghetti, but one year we did lasagne.


We did salad, large quantities of meslcun in a huge bowl served with with tongs, various "vulgar" salad dressings like Ranch, but proper vinaigrettes too at the end of the table.

Garlic bread

We also sliced full loaves of that fake French bread and "greased" between slices with a spread of garlic, butter and parsley mixed together. This was wrapped in foil left mostly open and baked in a hot oven.

Lasagne recipe

Please plan to have finished baking lasagne about ½ hour prior to the dinner. This is so that it's still warm, but no longer hot, dripping liquid and cheese is beginning to firm.

Ingredient list

This needs to be multiplied out; no notes on that were found. This recipe will probably feed about 12 persons.

  1. Brown sausage slowly, cool, then process into M&M-sized morsels. Leave fond in pan for next step. Refrigerate meat separately.
  2. Chop onion finely and mince garlic. Clarify onion (do not brown). Lower heat and stir in garlic, cooking for about 60 seconds. Add tomatoes and tomato paste, sugar, basil and oregano, salt, stock. Simmer (almost no bubbles), uncovered, for 30 minutes. Add sausage into sauce.
  3. Process cottage cheese until smooth. In a large bowl, combine cottage and Parmesan cheese, parsley, eggs, salt and pepper.
  4. Boil noodles for 10 minutes. Add cold water so you can handle them.
  5. Create mise en place consisting of a) meat sauce, b) cottage cheese mixture, c) lasagne noodles and d) mozzarella cheese.
  1. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the bottom of both oven-safe dishes.
  2. Position a layer of noodles just covering the pan.
  3. Sprinkle a thin layer of mozzarella cheese to cover noodles.
  4. Spoon ¼ of cottage cheese mixture over mozzarella.
  5. Spoon ¼ of meat sauce over cottage cheese sauce.
  6. Repeat from step 2 until baking dishes are full or ingredients exhausted. It's not impossible that you will have more ingredients than will fit in your baking pans, especially if they are shallow. If you wish, the fourth layer may flow over to a 9"×9" dish for convenience.
  7. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Allow to stand in open oven until you bring it to the dinner, about ½ hour before it will be served.

Spaghetti dinner

Most years, this dinner has been served spaghetti. It's far easier than lasagne, especially if you can find a friendly caterer with a kitchen to cook the pasta in. Here are notes and recipes to ponder.

Suggestions on the shopping list

* Some stores are willing to give a discount for Scout fund-raisers. Ask.


These are to be used with multipliers. Multiply these recipes by 75 to get for 200 people. One year we had the scouts over to my kitchen to do meat balls, which were excellent, but a great deal of work.


This is for 4 persons.

Melt butter in large sauce pan (or stock pot) over medium heat. Add onion and clarify about 5 minutes. Add oregano and salt. Add garlic and bloom, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar. Raise heat until boil, then reduce to simmer (light bubbles around edge of pot) for 10 minutes. Add meat. If using fresh basil, don't add it until minutes prior to serving.


This is for 4 persons.

In a large skillet, chop onion and clarify in oil, 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano and pepper flakes, cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add sausage and ground beef. Mix ingredients thoroughly as they are tossed, cook until red is just beginning to disappear from meat. Add to sauce.

Garlic bread

This is for 4 persons

Let butter soften to room temperature. Using mixer, make paste of butter, garlic and parsley. Cut loaf in half horizontally and slather with paste. Bake at 375 degrees until edges begin to brown. Cut and serve immediately. Note: this is best done live at the dinner in the kitchen ovens as it's only "warming" bread.