Cooking for a Crowd

Here are some of the hundreds of questions you have sent to Chef-Menus.comYou may find answers to your own cooking for a crowd questions. 

Party Planning Questions

Party Menu Ideas Questions



Q.
S
loppy Joes for a Crowd
I am chairing an event for our hospital auxiliary and plan to serve ground beef barbeque (sloppy Joes or steamers depending on where you're from) to 75 people. How much ground beef should I use?

A.
It would say about 15-18 lbs of 20-25% fat beef would do it. That should give you a little better then a 1/2 cup serving per Joe. You didn't ask, but you would need roughly 10-12 cups of sauce for this much meat.  Hope this helps.. Chef Deb

 

 

Q.
Birthday Party Menu for 60
I am hosting a surprise 60th birthday for my husband.  I found your website and your recipes are what I had in mind for quantity cooking.  I anticipate 50-60 guests.

I am serving 3 appetizers: Pesto Crostini, Stuffed Mushrooms with Spinach and Blue Cheese and assorted nuts.

Dinner Menu:
Tossed salad with Italian Dressing, croutons and heirloom tomatoes (from my garden)

Your recipe for Baked Ziti with Four Cheeses
Your recipe for Italian Meatballs
Rolls with Roasted Thyme Garlic Butter

Dessert: Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Petit Chocolate.

My questions: Your meatball recipe makes 100, 2 oz meatballs, will 3 meatballs per plate.  Along with 1+cup of baked ziti, will that be enough?

I am going to make the meatballs plus 1/2 of the recipe and the baked ziti + 1/2 of the recipe

I realize the meatballs are under your appetizer menu, but will they work as the entree?   Thank you for your time. 

A.
Thanks for your questions.  Yes, I would do what you planned, the meatball and ziti recipes plus 1/2 recipe. 3 meatballs per plate should be plenty for average eaters. You can always get another pound or 3 of meat and make extra (better too much then too little) and they freeze beautifully.  Happy B-Day to your hubby and have a fun party!  Chef Deb  

 



 

Q.
Scalloped Potatoes for 100
What about the amounts or recipe for scalloped potatoes and ham? On the Internet I got recipes for 100 that varied from 30 to 44 lbs of potatoes, sliced. That's a big difference.  I took Corn and Tomato Scallop for 100 and figured I could just omit the tomatoes and do everything else the way it was written. 

Thank you for your help - I really appreciate your time and effort - hope you are having a good Easter season and Spring comes soon for you. 

A.
You are welcome. I am also waiting for spring, although winter here in the North East has not been too bad.   Yes, I have noticed the differences in recipes also. A good rule of thumb I use for potato dishes is 1 small to medium-sized potato per person. Check how many potatoes are in a sack and go from there. I would suggest using Yukon Gold or white potatoes because they will hold their shape better then Russet/Idaho pots.  For the diced ham, I would say about 10-12 pounds would be plenty.  

You've got a lot of peeling to do....have fun!  Chef Deb

 

Quantity Pasta and Potato Recipes


Q.
Thanksgiving Feast
I am helping to coordinate food for Thanksgiving for about 350
people.  We will have stuffing, mashed potatoes and yams, among other things.  I am assuming that I do not need 350 servings of each starch but what would be an acceptable amount to plan for? A speedy response would be greatly appreciated!!!

A.
Thanks for visiting Chef-Menus.com.  Kudos to you for cooking for 350! Usually I do not recommend making the exact number of servings for each and every dish.  But on Thanksgiving, people will eat starch upon starch and not worry about the carbohydrate overload! 

In spite of that, I would plan for 350 servings of stuffing, 300 servings of yams and 250 servings of mashed potatoes.  This is based on my observance
of what people eat most on T-Day and a "guesstimation" of your crowd.

Hope this helps.  Let me know how it turns out.  Happy Thanksgiving

 

  

Q.
Pork Roasts for a Crowd
I am cooking at my church this Friday and need some help. I am the chef for the annual mother/daughter dinner. I will be serving approx. 100 guests. I will be making roast pork, scalloped potatoes, salad, appetizers, dessert, rolls, and beverage. I will be purchasing the food in bulk at Costco. I figure 35lb of uncooked boneless pork roast, 40 pounds of scalloped potatoes, 2-3 pieces of apps. and dessert per person and several gallons of lemonade and ice tea. Coffee and water will be served also.

We have three big ovens so the meat will all be in at the same time. How long will 35 pounds of pork take to cook? I know at home I cook a 2-4 lb roast in about 1 and a half hours at 350 degrees. Not sure how to convert the time for 35 pounds. Any help would be appreciated.    Thanks (wish me luck!)

A.
Thanks for visiting Chef-Menus.com. Whew! Have you got some cooking to do!  I do wish you luck, chef!   Your food quantities sound right. What is the weight on each roast? I think that whatever time it takes to cook one roast of a certain weight, it will take about the same time on 10-12 roasts of the same weight (about 30 mins per pound)

It also depends on the ovens; do they maintain the true temperature? Meaning, if the temperature knob is at 350F, is the oven temperature 350F. If you or no one else knows, you could use an oven thermometer and test it before Fri. I think it's worth it.

Using a food thermometer is always the best way to know when food is done, start checking about 10 minutes before you think it should be done (pork=145F) Finally, my favorite tip, let the meat sit at room temperature about 60 minutes before you cook, that assures an even start and will prevent uneven cooking.  

Hope this helps, have fun
Chef Deb


Pork Roast Recipes
 

And again from this ambitious chef.....

Q.
Hi, You helped me in the past so I thought I would contact you again. I was cooking pork roast for 100 ladies at my church and you gave me some good advice.

I am having a fundraiser Oktoberfest at the church.  Looks like we could have over 250 people attend!  I am making brats, pork roast, 1/4 chickens, sour kraut, sweet sour cabbage, and dumplings. How much sour kraut and sweet sour cabbage should I make? Also, do you have any good recipes?  Wanna come and help!

A.
Yes, I remember you and your pork roasts question! I assume everything went well since you are willing to give the porkers another try!

First I would determine how much your crowd loves cabbage! Then, if you are serving two types of cabbage, I would do half and half. You would need about 20 pounds of fresh cabbage for 100 servings of the sweet and sour and about 10 quarts of canned sauerkraut for 100 servings (assuming about 1/2 cup of each cabbage and assuming that not all 250 persons will eat either cabbage dish). Of course you could bump these numbers up to serve more.

But whoa.....if you are making homemade sauerkraut..I guess you know you will need a whole lot more cabbage...good luck with that!

Actually, I don't have any good related recipes, but I was thinking that either adding apples to the sweet/sour cabbage or a side dish of cooked apples with orange zest and nutmeg would be a nice addition to the brats and pork....also very "fallish"

Have fun, I know you will 

 

Q.
Passover Menu for 130
Hello Chef!  I am making a traditional Jewish Passover meal for approx. 130 people. There still could be more to come so I thought I should plan on 150 - Thoughts on that?  Should I do 150 servings of everything or should I go with the 130 x 1.5 servings = 195 servings of everything?

I'm planning on a simple tossed salad,  chicken soup, beef brisket and roast chicken - how much of each?
A Matzah stuffing and roasted potatoes and onions - again - how much of each their special carrots called Carrot Tzimmes.   I do have a recipe for a large quantity that serves 48 and I thought about doing another vegetable - again how much of each vegetable.

I've served for large crowds before but I'm a little concerned since I've never done this type of meal for so many. It is a buffet style. Can you give me any input or is there a formula? Do you figure a serving per person or figure on more people and a serving for each just more or how do you figure. Thanks for your help.

A.
Thanks for visiting Chef-Menus.com where your questions are always welcome. Whew! If you've done cooking for a crowd before, you probably have a few tricks up your sleeve....don't worry, you'll be fine! If you are sure of the 20 extra guests and your budget allows for it, planning for 150 sounds right.

Do you have an idea of the overall appetite of your crowd? Are they mostly young men, older women, children, teenagers, "weight watchers" or vegetarians?

Answers to those types of questions determine how many servings to prepare. Because of this, there is no formula, just good "guesstimating"

If you have 10 different dishes, for example, not all 130 people will eat a full serving of each one of the 10 dishes. Mostly folks like to "graze" and take a small sampling of what they like. So, 195+ servings of everything may be too much.

In my experience, most people will go for the meat, carbs and sweets, in that order, and will eat less of vegetables, salads and fruits.  If your guests fit this description then plan for a serving each of brisket and chicken, then a little less on the stuffing and potatoes. Then do half Carrot Tzimmes (serves 48) and half of another veg (serving 48 or less)

Hope this helps, let me know if you have more questions.  Happy Cooking  Chef Deb


 

 

Q.
Burritos for 100

IM HAVING A CHURCH DINNER AND THINKING OF HAVING A BURRITO BAR, I WAS WONDERING ON ABOUT HOW MUCH PORK I WOULD NEED FOR 100 PEOPLE. THANKS YOU SO MUCH FOR THE GREAT WEBSITE

A.
Thanks for visiting Chef-Menus.com, your patronage is definitely appreciated!  What a good idea! A burrito bar is fun and relatively easier then a plated dinner (fingers crossed here). I am assuming you are using ground pork and it will be mostly adults.

I would suggest 28-32 pounds of pork, which will yield about 1/2 cup cooked meat per burrito and is a generous amount especially if you have other fixins' (rice, beans, cheese, etc). With that in mind you could cut the pork to about 22-25 pounds which will yield about 1/3 cup per serving.  If you need help with the fixins' amounts please consult the food quantities chart or shoot me another email. Hope this helps. 

Happy Cooking
Chef Deb 


Set-Up a Salad or Taco Salad Bar


 

Q.
Pasta Recipe for a Crowd
I am cooking for 100 people. How much pasta and sauce do i need?

Well, it probably depends on the type of sauce you are planning, but as a place to start, I would say you would need about 4-5 gallons of sauce and about 10 pounds of dry pasta. 

A.
I don't know if you are cooking or purchasing sauce, but here is a simple recipe for marinara sauce for 100. Serving size is about 1/2 cup

2 lb onions, chopped
10-16 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups olive oil
5 gallons canned tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup dried basil, crumbled
3-4 tablespoons salt
3 teaspoons black pepper
In large stockpot, sauté onion and garlic in oil until tender and golden brown. Add tomatoes and juice and break tomatoes into small pieces. Stir in seasonings. Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until sauce reaches desired consistency.  Hope this helps

 

Q.
International Menu for a Crowd
Hello, I am cooking Greek food for 40 - 50 people. Do you know if the Greek salad would be okay made the day ahead? I have only ever made it an hour or two ahead.   Also in addition to Greek we will be having nasi and bami (this is a very international crowd and I am hoping to have stuff everyone will like). I will be doing some chicken
wings to accompany these dishes and I am wondering how many wings I should do. Help?  Thank you for any suggestions.

A.
Yumm-ee! I love Mediterranean and all Pacific style cuisine....wish I could be there!

For the salad you may be able to get away with cutting/prepping the peppers, cucumbers and onions the day before (assuming you are using these ingredients). Store separately and layer paper towels in between to absorb run off water from veggies. You can of course make the dressing 1-2 days ahead. Also wash and prep lettuce (if not using bagged) the day before, store same as other veggies. Put together right before serving

For the wings, depends on how many you are planning per person. You also have to judge by how many are actually attending, what kind of appetites they have, are there other meats, are there a lot of children, what is your budget, etc, etc. I would say 2 wings pp or 3 pp to be generous. So that means 80-150 wings. There are roughly 8-10 wings per pound (depending on size) which is therefore anywhere from 10-20 pounds of chicken. Does my math sound right? Somewhere in the middle is always a good place to be.  Hope this helps, let me know

 

And several days later.....

Well, I did it. I had 53 people. I did 65 boneless skinless chicken thigh filets - lemon roasted. 4 kg Greek roasted potatoes. I did 80 wings. I had to stop there with the meat as I was out of oven and crock pot space. The tsatziki dip was a hit.  I had one big pan of Nasi and one big pan of bami - I could have had more of both of these. It seemed everyone ate till they were satisfied and I did not have much left over so it worked out good. Thanks for your help.



You are welcome and good for you! The lemon roasted thighs sounded like an inspired touch! Just today I received a question about a similar menu/proportions...I'll quote you in my answer! Thanks for letting me know....Happy cooking!  Chef Deb


Q.
Office Party for a Crowd
I am responsible for our Faculty Christmas Party this year.  Faculty will bring desserts and salads (last check. there will approx. 60-70 people). I think I would like to do Italian and one of the dishes will most likely be Chicken Cacciatore.  I need other suggestions for at least one other main meat dish and perhaps some pasta dishes.  Thanks

A.
Thank you for visiting Chef-Menus.com. To make it easy (if you want it to be), I suggest a store-bought or homemade ham (I have a good recipe for a whole ham braised in port, let me know if you'd like it) with potatoes au gratin or mashed potatoes and simple green beans or peas. Or, if you're ambitious, a leg of lamb, standing rib roast or 2-3 sirloin roasts with baked orzo and cheese

One suggestion you didn't ask for, for the Chick Cacc, use diced boneless thighs. It's difficult to eat bone-in chicken and remain calm, cool and clean in front of co-workers and the boss.   Hope this helps you.  Have a wonderful holiday!

 

Q.
Potatoes for 400 (you heard right)
I am doing a church dinner for 400. I would like to serve herb roasted potatoes. I was going to par boil them and then put them in oil, garlic, basil, on large trays in the oven. My question is how long would you cook them in the oven, not to be over done.  I would have to do them in batches like one large pan (the size almost of the oven shelf) one pan on each shelf in the oven. Thank you for any help you can give me.


A.
I appreciate your patronage. Whoa! Potatoes for 400...let me know how it turns out!

The parboiling is normally a good idea but I would think that for such a large amount, the time it would take you to parboil and drain/dry the potatoes would take the same or even more time then roasting them raw. Plus, I'm a firm believer in eliminating extra steps.

Cooking time depends on the oven of course. I assume this is the church’s commercial oven? If you’ve never used it before, I would suggest doing a trial run with an oven thermometer to test the “true” temperature.

Otherwise, I would say the cooking time would be only slightly longer then in smaller batches, For raw potatoes: 40-50 mins at 375-400 degrees. For parboiled, 25-35 mins at the same temp.

For most things I usually only use the time as a guide and decide that something is done by testing the food. So when the potatoes are browned and a fork goes through easily but does not fall apart. I would suggest removing them immediately or even shut off the oven about 5-8 mins before the potatoes are done and leaving them to stay warm.   All is just my humble opinion. I wish you all the best.  Chef Deb


And then.......

Thank you so much for your advice. We never do anything small, we need our heads examined. Just kidding, we have a great time and raise money for our Church and Community. I kind of misled you, I am cooking for 400, but as our dinner is continuous seating, I hope to put about a third of them in the oven at a time. We also have two ovens (commercial as you said) so I thought I could have them nice and fresh most of the time.  My last question to you is, would the times you gave me be the same if I am only putting a third in the oven at a time? Thanks again for your help

Yes, cooking for a community crowd is always rewarding. Yes, it should be around the same cooking time. Start checking pots at around 30 mins. and then every 5-10 mins.  Extra info you may already know: Russet potatoes cook faster then red or whites and also fall apart quicker, I would stick with reds or Yukon Golds

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Cooking for a Crowd
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 Potatoes
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Burritos for 100!