Rebecca and I agreed to be in charge of a fundraising meal our MYF (Mennonite Youth Fellowship) planned to raise money for a work-and-learn trip this summer. It was, frankly, a lot of work, but the rush of community spirit and pride at the event itself was deeply gratifying. Plus, the MYFers worked so willingly and purposefully that I quite believe in teenagers again.
Cooking for crowds is quite a different skill set from other cooking skills: family meals, company meals, picnics, packed lunches, holiday dinners, parties (did I miss any?). Following are my notes on quantities and things I want to remember when I have a go at crowd cooking again.
1 9x13 pan vegetarian church casserole
mixed green salad with 1 quart vinaigrette - 2 big boxes, plus a few cups spinach
cranberry applesauce from 1 bushel apples and 8 bags of cranberries (with 1 bucket left over)
135 whole wheat dinner rolls, 3 sticks butter, 1 quart strawberry jam
8 9x13 pans Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
2 5-quart pails vanilla ice cream
10 cups toasted walnuts
100 cups decaf coffee
1 quart half-and-half
I don't have the exact number of people that we served. We planned 150 servings and what I listed here is what we actually used.
1. We had way more dessert than we needed - 4 cakes and a 5-quart pail of ice cream left over. Did we serve skimpily or is our church really healthy?
2. The plate was very, very pretty: shiny greens, garnet-colored sauce, and the casserole with flecks of green (bell pepper) and red (pimento).
3. The coffee took an hour to brew (we had planned for 45 minutes).
4. The served-buffet is so ideal for sticking to planned portions without needing to plate and deliver food to tables.
5. We forgot to plan for the workers' supper - it's important to have well-fed workers! Rebecca hurried the casseroles and we served dessert to the workers first while the casseroles finished up.
It sounds delicious and exhausting.
Sometimes, just for kicks, I like to read the cooking-for-a-barn raising-crew list at the back of the Mennonite Community Cookbook. It's so jaw-droppingly fascinating.
I love that page, Jennifer Jo. And at least, Margo, we didn't consider frying donuts for 150.
A lovely menu! I'm impressed that you went so far as to provide jam for the rolls. Cooking for a large crowd overwhelms me; the last time I was involved in such a task, we too, had twice the amount of dessert that we needed.
Cooking for a crowd is lots of work. you will be glad you made notes for future events too.
I have cooked many big meals in 2 different churches and also worked as the fraternity house cook for 2.5 years while 2 of children were also in college. I wrote down everything for future reference and it was so helpful.
your menu sounds delicious. You must have a healthy congregration - I don't remember ever having many dessert leftovers.
Rhonda, I'd love to be in your shoes. I have a little dream to be in charge of a big kitchen and regularly feed a crowd. I did it briefly when I lived in Georgia - loved it.
I am SO impressed. It sort of reminds me of the manager of the day-homeless shelter-soup kitchen where my best friend used to work. That woman was a marvel. She would be given donated food, randomly, of course, from various sources arond the city (from restaurants to extras from the grocery stores or farmers markets) and somehow magically turn it all into sumptuous, hot meals for the folks who came through the shelter. A labor of love and ingenuity--my respect for those skills knows no bounds. Truly amazing and incredible, and always reminding me of Jesus feeding the thousands. I think you've got a similar gift!!! What a blessing.
Wow, what an impressive menu and you were very smart to make note for ways to improve even more.
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