Cooking Local vs 1 stop shopping

Joined Aug 11, 2000

Last week was MOA (Missouri Organic Association) conference in Springfield Mo which is 250 miles from here. For many years I've been a supporter, showed up to help whomever is dealing with the food.

Last year a friend who owns a restaurant catered the 2 day event and had serious issues with timing....getting food to the event on in entree showing up an hour after it was supposed to, with the legs of lamb not cut off the bone when it arrived....timing is typically where a restaurant guy falls down when trying to cater offsite.

This year I offered to be the intermediary between the Ramada Inn conference center and the farmers donating food.  TRAIN WRECK....seriously it was a friggin' train wreck.

The exec over 5 properties went MIA until 5 days out, the girl in charge of booking the party was seriously cooking inept, the conference head thought that Ramada was fine dining and surely that means they can develop menus/recipes with whatever shows up.

Meanwhile I'm just shooting for damage control and to make sure there's enough for the higher than normal % of vegetarians. Wed after begging for the chef to call to work out a final menu with the copious quantities of great MO organic food being donated, staying within a nominal budget, one shows up in my email at 6pm that's a lame joke.

Thursday morning, the first day of the conference I'm sitting in a meeting with head of catering, booking catering girl, exec chef....hammering out a menu. would have been so much easier to just make the food myself....250 miles away....really, comeon.

They just are not used to various farmers dropping off food....sysco typically takes care of their needs.

The catering girl actually sent me recipes using Organic whole chickens, miracle whip, grapes, dried parsley!!!!  Seriously, is anyone home?

When booking the 3 day conference, the hotel staff promised that they'd be more than happy to work with local organic food, shoot they'd consider it a challenge.  Then it became evident to me that food donations were seen as cutting into their profit margin...that it was more important to get that $$$pp each meal than have thousands of dollars in premium product that would need more prep time show up.

Those of you who have worked for corporate event centers and have experience with groups donating product (that needs more effort) what OP works best for you?
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Donated product:

1 cs gorgeous eggs (15 doz)

6 large pork shoulders

250 lamb brats

100# blk beans (dry)

12 (16oz) containers of sour cream

mucho cases of vanilla and chocolate milk cartins....vanilla milk is gross, second ing. is cane juice

100 # yukon B potatoes

50# of carrots

40# of broccoli

mucho stuffed potato soup from WF

cheddar and mozz

25# of shelled pecans

12# of greens...that were MIA


fresh roast coffee, herb tea

pink redmond salt...lots

100# of organic...yes organic popcorn that was totally friggin' amazing

60# of ground grass fed beef

whole wheat spaghetti

1 gl of honey

250 Chipotle burritos

50 gorgeous up to 7.5#  whole chickens

2 cases of wonderful! braeburn apples

I'm going to throw out a challenge for pros as well as students to come up with menus using this food and nominal bread, salad greens, oil, citrus, vinagers, butter, herbage, flour, some extra veg.....

3 lunches

2 dinners

3 snacks

make sure there's enough for some vegans to have a complete meal....250 head count.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
sounds like a lot of great stuff...not something I would try to toss together a few days before the event. I am already sick with the flu and just the idea of grapes and miracle whip makes me want to gag. Sysco and fine dining at the Ramada Inn? I have my doubts. Will you be doing this again next year SG? and if so what are your first plans for a better run event?
Joined Aug 11, 2000
If I do, the first thing would be to be in on the ground floor....prior to any contracts are signed & sites are chosen. 

Start out with a budget, so that the conference co-ordinator knows what the food costs will run.

Look at having a chef event one night with guys in the area.

I really prefer straight shooting.....

no hidden costs, no crazy last minute shtuff, everything spelled out.....if there are last minute reservations they pay extra for food, if there is not enough food to take care of walk-ins then they will need to be turned away in preference of those that paid ahead.

Gunnar, let me reiterate, I volunteered to co-ordinate between the hotel staff and MOA.  The site had been selected, the initial contract was signed without a menu.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
Gunnar, let me reiterate, I volunteered to co-ordinate between the hotel staff and MOA.  The site had been selected, the initial contract was signed without a menu.
Ah, so you kind of got stuck holding the bag at the last minute. Yes, I can see how damage control was your main priority.
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Joined Apr 3, 2008
yeah, just printed out the list and will toss some things around..I'm still sick and at this point am distracted b ...SQUIIRREL! random thoughts. gimme a couple ...oooh shiny!...of hours and I'll see what i come up with.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
rotfl.....just talking about using our abundance of squirrels for, like food.....squirrel pie, squirrel burgoo, fried squirrel, roasted squirrel, etc....
Joined Apr 3, 2008
OK, check it...

Snacks- Popcorn served with all snacks- you have plenty
                 buttered and salted - some just salted for the vegans
                 Paprika and cumin
      - Deviled Eggs
      - Cheese and Apple plates - separated so the vegans don't feel that the apple was contaminated by icky cheese

Lunch 1- Chipotle burritos -
                - Rice, bean and guac burritos for the vegans

Lunch 2- A pair of 2oz Beef Sliders w/ a green side salad - shredded carrots, julienned apples and candied pecans with a honey vinaigrette
         - Vegans get entree sized salad

Lunch 3- Lamb Brats on sourdough roll w/ carmelized onions and Stuffed potato Soup
         -Vegans get Broccoli soup with Shredded carrot salad w/ citrus dressing

Dinner 1- Fried Chicken w/ Herb roasted yukons and Steamed Broccoli florets. (not every one is getting a breast, but I do a double split on these at home that yields four pieces of breast meat from one chicken)
          - Vegans get a pair of Pan Fried Cuban Black Bean Patties instead of chicken

Dinner 2- Pulled Braised pork Shoulder on corn tortillas with Black Beans and Pico de Gallo salad w/ sour cream and shredded cheese on side of plate
          -Vegans get Apple and Pecan Stuffed Acorn squash instead of pork Shoulder, Hold sour cream and Cheese on side of plate

Had no use for the whole wheat spaghetti- picky vegans snubbed it cause of the egg in the noodle, so I took home a lot of Pasta Primavera/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

edited to add sourdough roll and carmelized onions w/ brats

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Joined Aug 11, 2000
no way....I spoke to a beef farmer about squirrels and she makes a stew with any given time I've got 30 plump squirrels running through the yard chattering, eatin the blk walnuts and trash out of the can...hmmph.....

I'll work on a menu in the morning...thanks Gunnar, feel better.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
3 lunches

2 dinners

3 snacks

Lunch #1   Chipotle's huge burritos

Snack: popcorn cooked with evo....seriously, no butter needed


cheese sticks


Black Bean Soup


smashed yukons

green salad


Carrot Cake Bars


deviled eggs

Stuffed potato Soup

Carrot Soup

lamb brats with apple chutney, mustard

Green Salad


Pecan Pie Bars

Snack: gougere, apples, popcorn


Roasted Chicken

Broccoli...interestingly the Ramada served broc with celery which was darn tasty.

Brown Rice Pilaf

Black bean patties, love your take on them Gunnar

Spinach Salad with sliced apples, candied pecans....sour cream/herb salad dressing/ vinagrette

bread pudding with honey caramel apples


Pork Shoulder roasted and pulled,

Sandwiches with bbq sauce, caramelized onions


Frittata with the whole wheat spaghetti and eggs, a romesco type sauce....or version of it.

what o what for the vegans that isn't yet blk beans revisited....hmmm will think some more....any ideas?
Joined Apr 3, 2008
I almost did roast chicken, it's a prettier presentation but thought the carving would just be a big pain in the neck. I like the spaghetti pie fritatta good idea. I see you snuck in a rice pilaf..i guess I should have taken a few more liberties with extra ingredients but was trying to stick with what was mainly on the list...did have to go shopping for some acorn squash to stuff, vegans give me a headache. I would have a done a bleu cheese and bacon and a sweet and sour fennel slaw on my sliders too.. But hey I'm sick....
Joined Feb 3, 2011
Just some thoughts for complimenting your menus that might make things a little easier round serving time.

Chicken-- BBQ style Portugese Chicken

Pork Shoulders-- Pickled or corned 

honey / popcorn ice cream. 

left over black bean soup-- becomes vegan feijoada.

soft boiled eggs for the salad

pickled broccoli stems 

Good luck
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