Cooking for a crowd can be a back-breaking, foot aching labor of love. The only way to survive is to be organized and plan well in advance.
You don't have to be a professional chef to pull off a large party...you just need a little confidence and a passion for cooking for those you love.
Cooking for a Crowd-First Things First
Cooking for a crowd requires you to plan of the entire process. The process starts with setting a budget and ends with a gigantic sigh of relief after a job well done!
Every detail surrounding the menu, the kitchen, the equipment, the shopping, the cooking and the service should be carefully thought out and written down in a step by step format.
If friends and family are helping, decide each person's duties and make schedules that include deadlines (they will love you for that). The goal is to ensure a (mostly)smooth running event where everyone maintains some degree of sanity.
Making to-do lists is mostly about breaking down each major task into smaller tasks or goals.
As in life, take it one step at a time and the final goal will become that much less irritating and intimidating. I promise.
Take my advice and avoid my aggravating experience of forgetting to purchase basil for the basil and pistachio pasta. Somehow,it never made it to the list
Cooking for a crowd in the home kitchen requires organization and lots of space. You will need space for food, supplies, extra equipment and of course for cooking and serving. This is is a good time to clear the kitchen clutter which should be done as soon as possible.
If necessary, contact party stores for information on renting specialty kitchen equipment for the home cook. In using your home equipment. Plan your menu to make use of all of your appliances such as the stovetop, microwave, portable grill, crock pot, toaster oven, etc
Consider using a commercial kitchen if your crowd numbers 75 or more. Your menu decisions will be that much easier.
Without a doubt, buffet-style service is the best way to serve a crowd. Arrange buffet tables according to your space and what you are serving. Have friends or volunteers serve the main dishes. This helps to control portions and keeps the buffet line moving smoothly.
More information on service styles
Using chafing dishes for a buffet
Unfortunate cases of food poisoning are often traced to failure to follow simple food safety wisdom:
All foods should be kept at a temperature between 40°F - 140°F depending if the item is to be served cold, warm or hot. This is the food safety zone.
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