Catering for my first event, need a little help

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by delmargirl, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. delmargirl


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    Culinary Student

    This is my first time posting to this site and I am hoping I am in the right place (apologize in advance if I am not).  I am doing a lunch for teachers and staff at my son's school Wednesday (gratis, not being paid).  The recipe is as follows:

    Meat Lasagna

    Tortellini - for vegetarians with Marinara and/or Pesto - this is what I need help with

    Salads - a chopped Italian salad and a mixed spring salad with gorgonzola and candied walnuts.  I am grilling chicken breasts and putting on the side as a topping

    Caprese Skewers

    Desserts:  bite-size brownies, lemon bars and salted peanut chews

    Two questions:

    1) What would you recommend for the vegetarian dish?  I would like to do something to make ahead and keep warm in possible a crock pot. 

    2) Because I do not have a head count on meat vs. veggie eaters, I'm considering doing enough lasagna's for 75% and Veggie for 25%.  Is this a good ratio?

    This is the concern I am having - I have a meeting at the school from 10:30am until 11:30am and lunch is serve at 11:45. I need items I can set-up in advance and be ok for 90 minutes before eating.  The meat lasagna's are ok because I'm having them reheated and delivered along with the grilled chicken at 11:30am.  However, I'm going to have to set-up the salads (refrigerator is there) myself and do the veggie dish in advance.  I'll have almost no time to warm up anything before serving.  It needs to be "warming" while I am in the meeting.

    Thank you so much in advance for your help!
  2. durangojo


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    Professional Chef
    wow, i must say that is quite the endeavor your first time out the gate.....and your menu sounds lovely.....they are lucky guests.

    my 2 cents...the meat eaters will not only eat the meat lasagne but they will eat that wonderful tortellini dish as well(they have no shame!)....obviously not the other way around though. i don't think you will be able to hold tortellini in a crock pot for 90 minutes successfully.a few things that might simplify your life...1) make both a meat lasagne and a vegetarian will cut down on the 'over' taking. 2)  since the grilled chicken breast is a salad topping you can serve it cold.... i think i would grill it up the day before and slice it that day or the morning of your luncheon......that way you don't have to worry about keeping them hot and reheated chicken grilled chicken breast is usually never good... after you slice them you could drizzle some evoo on them to keep them will be amazed how much there is always left to do the day of an event, so getting anythng done and out of the way really helps ....personally i don't particularly like hot protein on  cold salads anyway, but this isn't about me, it's about what works best 

    how many people are you feeding? is this self serve?

    i hope this helps and i wish you all the best for what sounds like a great luncheon

  3. meezenplaz


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    Sous Chef, Event Manager
    The 75%-25% ratio meat to vegetarian doesnt work, because as Joey mentioned above,

    people want what looks good, and will come back to get it, even  it means

    telling you a white lie..."Can I have some of THAT? Im a vegetarian" Not speculation,

    I've experienced it in event catering time and again. Ive even been told that when they

    were standing there with chunk of steak on their plate. lol

    Depends what it is of course--

    a batch of  noodles with marinara sauce mixed in is usually no problem.

    But a yummy batch of tortellinis? Trust me--theres nothing worse than

    running out of vegetarian fare BEFORE all the vegetarians come through your line.

    If it IS your line--if it's self serve, you have no choice but to make enough for everyone--

    as labelling it "vegetarian only" and trusting hungry guests to the "honor-system" is  fool's folly.

    What always worked for me was to tell the host/hostess of the event (client)

    "please have the vegetarians come through the line first." And the client can vouch for them too.

    And you just keep all this hot in your sterno chaffers (or crock) while you attend the meeting.

    Your desserts and salads sound fine.

    And when I use grilled or saute'd chicken as a topping etc, I too make ahead and serve it cold.
  4. shroomgirl


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    Professional Caterer
    or a tortellini pesto at room temp.
  5. meezenplaz


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    Sous Chef, Event Manager
    Hmm, kind of a variation of a tortellini/cherry tomato skewers appetizer with creamy pesto sauce I regularly make,

    which yes, keeps REALLY well at room temp. As a salad; good idea, I'll have to remember that one, thanks SG. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
  6. tigerwoman


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    totally agree that the vegetarian dish needs to be available for everyone since the carnivores will consider it a side dish.

    Question - are you serving this or is it self serve?

    One possible way that you can make less of the "vegetarian" option and not have the problem that everyone stated - running out because the carnivores took a portion first is to make the same dish but one with meat and one without - even then I would still have at least one to half ratio meat to veg


    meat lasagne  one pan

    vegetarian lasagne (same as meat but w/out meat)  half pan

    we recently did this on a budget event that we served

    we had a cold tuna/salmon niscoise potato salad with veggies and olives  

    made the base without the fish and divided the base salad into 2/3 to 1./3 ratio

    and verbally offered "  we have a nicoise potato salad - would you like it with fish or vegetarian)

    out of 40 - about 4 went for the vegetarian option and I ended up giving the second scoop of vegetarian to the fish eaters as we got lower on the fish portion but had PLENTY of vegetarian that way.  Many asked can I have some of both - which in the beginning of the line I replied - they are the same - only one has fish added, the other is the vegetarian options "oh I'll have the fish option then"  LOL

    Here are some complimentary suggestions that you could make as the main course either way

    White Beans, Kale and Rice  - complete protein for vegetarians

    add chicken or mini meatballs to that as the carnivore option

    Tortellini with Pesto Lasagne  (holds better and might be easier than making lasagne) with  Chicken Sausage added for Meat option

    Baked Ziti - add meat sauce for carnivore option

    Eggplant Parmesan Bake - add either meat

    sauce or chicken sausage for carnivore option

    a variations of this is the zucchini rollup 

    egg batter long thick planks of green or yellow zucchini (can be done a few days ahead0

    basically just egg and flour and sauteed until cooked and golden on both sides.  

    Once cooled stuff with anything that hits your fancy 

    we like a rondele garlic cream cheese, sundried tomato and basil pesto, roasted red peppers, chiffonade of fresh spinach

    can add proscuitto, pancetta or dice of genoa salami to the mix

    if you are planning to heat up (works well too but great at room temp )  then add some shredded cheese of choice - provolone, mozzarella, jack, young asiago to the rondele before spreading - this will help bind everything as it heats.

    you could also do the eggplant parmesan as an eggplant rollatini

    Another popular and somewhat Italian fun dish that could be made two ways

    Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Grapes - I made a veggie spinoff of this recently when I el was riffling through my frig.

    Julienned and Sauteed the brussel sprout leaves garlic evoo

    added a few plops of good san marzano tomato sauce to the pan but did not stir

    added a few slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella (yes, happened to have this in the frig )

    and covered the pan just to melt the cheese

    grated asiago over the whole thing and ate - delicious !