Uggh. Mashed Potato Bar?

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Joined May 27, 2016
Hi all--

I'm working up an estimate for a wedding reception for March 2019. This is for a friend's daughter's wedding. I am a private chef/food writer/recipe developer with a restaurant and catering background. No commercial kitchen at present. Venue has a kitchen with some commercial aspects, but nothing to write home about. We are in the Deep Coastal South. I want to be fair to all of us, family can afford whatever, Father of the Bride (FoB) may or may not try to shake the price down a bit, if only on principal. The estimate I can do. That's not my problem.

Mom of Bride wants nice traditional reception fare: thin-sliced beef tenderloin with yeast rolls and two or three sauces, marinated shrimp, baked brie en croute, very fancy vegetable tray, good cheese somethings, etc, etc ... Easy and good. Daughter wants all that plus oysters--raw and grilled-AND a mashed potato bar. I can price that.

The problem is that I hate the idea of the mashed potato bar. I feel like this is food poisoning waiting to happen. I know how to make that not happen in a perfect world in theory, but I don't want to rent Cambros and still have to worry.

So I want to tell them no mashed pots. That may or may not work. (Friends, remember?) What would you offer instead?

Thanks!
BayCook
 
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I agree with Pat. Mashed potato bar should be easy enough. All toppings held separately. Only mashed needs to be kept hot and not for that long if the venue has a kitchen.
 
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Joined May 27, 2016
Agree on the oysters--I am hiring an oyster guy who does oysters for events. (A very cool thing!) So what I actually need for the dang mashed potatoes is an attitude adjustment! Thanks, y'all!
 
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*shrugs* Hold them nice and hot in hotel pans over water (i.e. chafers)
like most other fare. And stir em now and then with a splash
of milk so they dont get too crusty.
And if its a mashed potato BAR, two ways to do that...stock mashed with many
toppings nearby, as said above, or actual potato choices,like a cheesy garlic
one, maybe a creamy one, made with sourcream, etc. Also with toppings
available. All labelled of course.
 
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Or just explain to them that you are more than happy to put together a mashed potato bar but, the mashed potato bar will begin look really ugly really fast with potentially crusty, dry potatoes blah blah. Trust me, the bride will abandon the mashed potato bar idea really fast.

Good luck! :)
 
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Joined Mar 25, 2017
Great advice, and I agree it may be more of an attitude adjustment on your part. I tend to feel the same way as you considering the rest of the menu, BUT we all know what brides want, brides......

Funny little story. I do redskin mashed potatoes and with some groups it is a huge hit! I had one wedding that picked our city because the bride was midwest and groom was east coast. My city was half way between. Bride REALLY excited about our mashed potatoes. So the buffet starts and all these skinny girls and guys start taking HUGE heaps of mashed. As it progresses Im really SURE we would run out of mashed. Well, it turns out the midwest folks came thru first, with the east coasters towards the end. Apparently midwesterners really like their mashed potatoes!!! The last person went thru the line and there were like 4 helpings left. Whew! Had plenty of everything else, just not mashed. So you might be surprised how popular it might be!!
 
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Sgsvirgil- I happily disagree. I don't see why the mashed has to become dry, crusty, etc. I love mashed potatoes as a cook and an eater simply because they are so simple yet deliver so much. Figuring out how many potatoes are needed based on guest count is step one. Then I would think the service period will be finite so a potentially brief window of mashed sitting out.
The rest of the menu as described can be done ahead, stored and served with little to no fuss or maintenance.
So the focus is on refilling the toppings and keeping the mashed fresh. There is a kitchen on site.
Potatoes being so cheap, I'd have more ready than needed but not all at once. Do well timed batches by the half or quarter of total needed.
As in all peeled, chopped, ready to cook. Start the first ones to finish shortly before service, The second ready ten/fifteen minutes, later, depending on how fast guests are partaking. Or make all at once but hold back finished potatoes, separated in half pans for example, served as needed.
Anyway, however it's done, I really like the idea. And the profit margin should be pretty good.
 
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Very true. You make an excellent point. Nothing has the profit potential quite like potatoes. :)
 
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