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
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.
- plates for 200
- flatware for 200
- cups for 200
- napkins for 200
- 2 large packages Krusteaz
- 12 quarts half and half (for scrambled eggs)
- 6 large bottles Mrs. Butterworth's syrup
- 10 gallons milk
- 30 dozen eggs
- 5 gallons juice (cheapest)
Scrambled Eggs Recipe
The scrambled eggs were executed by five persons at home just in time for
- In a large bowl, beat eggs.
- Beat in half-and-half.
- In a large, non-stick pan, melt butter/margarine over medium-low heat and
pour egg batter.
- Scrape bottom and sides continually in order not to burn.
- 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).
- 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
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:
- bit of scrambled egg left over out of 25 dozen cooked at home by 5
- 4 containers of Mrs. Butterworth's
- almost 5 dozen eggs (reserved for one-offs, but no one asked)
- all of one and most of another huge Country Crock margarine
- 2 quarts half-and-half were left over
- about 1 gallon of milk
- 6 large bags of hashbrowns, about 1½ left
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
...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.
Ham and egg brunch
- 30 lbs bacon
- 60 lbs hash browns
- 14 lbs mushrooms
- 50 doz eggs
- 40 green peppers
- 40 red peppers
- 20 red onions
- 20 onions
- 14 lbs.butter
- 20 lbs. of cheese? I can't remember
- 10 gal 2 percent milk
- 2 gal skim milk
- 25 lbs oranges
- 300 cinnamon rolls
Ham and egg brunch recipe
Include sausage, green peppers, onions or other ingredients as desired.
- 6 slices bread (cubed)
- 1 lb. ham (cubed)
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- ½ tsp dry mustard or ½ tbsp prepared mustard
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ lb. Grated cheese
- 1 cube melted butter
- Spray 9"×13" pan with Pam.
- Mix 6 slices of cubed bread and 1 lb. cubed ham.
- Beat 6 eggs and mix with 2 cups milk, mustard and salt.
- Sprinkle the top with grated cheese.
- Pour melted butter on the top.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- 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.
...for the monster mash year was:
- 30 lbs bacon
- 60 lbs hashbrowns
- 20 lbs cheese
- 14 lbs butter
- 50 dozen eggs
- 14 lbs mushrooms
- 40 green bells
- 40 red bells
- 40 onions
- 12 gallons milk (10 2% and 2 skim)
- 25 lbs oranges
- 300 cinnamon rolls
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
- 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
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.
- Leave these in your garage or refrigerator if you have room.
- You do not want to start them from their frozen state.
- Use a griddle across two stove-top burners if you can—hot, but not
- Use lots of butter (for reasons I won't state here—ask me if you
care to know—it's not just about flavor at all).
- Do not play with the browns: put them down until golden on one
side, turn and cook until golden on the other. Resist the temptation to
toss them back and forth, over and over.
- Place in your delivery pan.
- 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
- Add in peppers; sauté just until they begin to soften a bit (don't let
them get mushy).
- Turn peppers and onions out atop the hashbrowns in the transport container.
- Sauté sliced mushrooms until they start to soften, then turn them
into the delivery pan.
- Leave these in the garage to save room in your refrigerator, but don't put
them where they'll freeze.
- Scramble them using a wisk, counter-top mixer, or other.
- Use a non-stick pot or deep sauté pan.
- Use lots of butter.
- Do not cook them until they're to the point at which you'd eat them. If
you do this, they will be over-done by the time you serve them. The will
continue cooking under their own heat and heat from other ingredients.
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.
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.
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.
This needs to be multiplied out; no notes on that were found. This recipe will
probably feed about 12 persons.
- 3lb Italian sausage
- 1 medium onion
- 8 clove garlic
- 20 oz canned, chopped tomatoes
- 14 oz canned, chopped tomatoes
- 3 cans tomato paste
- 1½ cans chicken stock
- 7½ cups cottage cheese (takes place of Ricotta cheese)
- 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 6 eggs
- 6 tbsp dried parsley flakes
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh-ground pepper
- 24 oz lasagne noodles
- 5 lb grated mozzarella cheese
- 2 13"×9" cake or Pyrex oven-safe dishes; maybe a 9"×9" baking
dish for overflow
- Brown sausage slowly, cool, then process into M&M-sized morsels. Leave
fond in pan for next step. Refrigerate meat separately.
- 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.
- Process cottage cheese until smooth. In a large bowl, combine cottage and
Parmesan cheese, parsley, eggs, salt and pepper.
- Boil noodles for 10 minutes. Add cold water so you can handle them.
- Create mise en place consisting of a) meat sauce, b) cottage cheese
mixture, c) lasagne noodles and d) mozzarella cheese.
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the bottom of both oven-safe dishes.
- Position a layer of noodles just covering the pan.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of mozzarella cheese to cover noodles.
- Spoon ¼ of cottage cheese mixture over mozzarella.
- Spoon ¼ of meat sauce over cottage cheese sauce.
- 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.
- 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.
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
- Tomatoes in #10 cans at Sam's Club. Opening smaller, 28-oz cans is
- Onions in large bags at Sam's Club. Chopping is tedious: perform night
before and store in large bowl covered in plastic, large zip-lock bag,
- Processing garlic is tedious; process the night before; you can buy it
already minced in bottles, but it's nasty.
- Purchase unsalted butter at Sam's Club where it's the least expensive;
salted butter is a) often bad quality, b) unpredictable in terms of just
how much salt it brings to the recipe.
- Olive oil from Sam's Club.
- Pre-grated Parmesan cheese (not mentioned below) from Sam's Club to
garnish top of pasta.
- Italian sausage;* ask in meat department for pre-prepared, it's
cheaper and handier to use than commercial Italian sausage.
- Big, cheap French bread loaves from Macey's; ask in bakery.
- Use dried basil purchased in large bottle rather than fresh or buy fresh
at Asian market for better price.
* 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
which were excellent, but a great deal of work.
This is for 4 persons.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup grated onion
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- — salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes (or whole or diced, but crushed afterward)
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- — fresh ground pepper
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.
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- 1 garlic clove, fine-minced
- pinch dried oregano
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 10 oz 80% ground beef
- 2 oz sweet Italian sausage
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.
This is for 4 persons
- 1/4 loaf grocery pseudo French bread
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1 clove garlic, fine minced
- 1 tsp dried chopped parsley
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