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Everything posted by KarenDW

  1. Firstly, the terminology is not one I would use. Let's just be clear about that But I think what is being referred to is: sketchy-looking casseroles with grey-ish sauce from a tin, containing an unidentifyable protein, and soggy frozen vegetables. Generally, visually unappealing, and with little or no discernable flavor or texture. I recall one of the volunteers referring to "fish-bone cakes" which were supposed to be fishcakes (?)
  2. As long as there is no obvious "recycling" of leftovers! If the option exists, do not put out all of the salad in the buffet service; maybe just 30 servings over everything, and then replenish platters/bowls. Whatever you keep back could be dressed just before serving, unless marinating in dressing is important to the dish. That way, if there are left over amounts, you can do something else with them. Easier to store, too. Ziplock bags are very handy here.
  3. I had a 2-day conference in February... 100 guests x 2 days x 2 meals + 2 coffee breaks... $26 pp per day. Continental breakfast Baked goods, plus "extra" breakfast stuff for AM coffee break Soup & sandwich bar + salad for lunch Cookies, cold beverages + snacks for PM coffee break The conference committee provided a minimum of 4 volunteers for prep and cleanup, for the duration of the conference. I hired 2 people for prep and 1 person for on-site help at the end of each day. Without the volunteers, I would have added $10 per person per day. I was able to purchase some supplies at the Food Rescue, as the conference was organized by a qualifying not for profit group. So, I was able to make some money.
  4. One of the criteria when I started the Community Meal contract last year was that I should avoid "cheap, grey, poor-people food".
  5. for multi-day events, it is definitely a concern. Most conference-type catering I've done... we try to mix up the menu a bit, to avoid exact repeats. The key would be to put out "almost" enough of everything, then replenish as required. In my experience, the complaints about leftovers usually come when the food is in the same platter and configuration as it was 4 hours ago at the last meal... ick. Multi-meal/multi-day events are great for catering, because you can monitor what is being consumed, and make some modifications to use your inventory. :-) $42 pp is not much at all.
  6. Does your Costco have the Thai peanut dressing/marinade? Check the list of ingredients to see if they are suitable. Then have fresh toppings/garnishes. Baby spinach, pre-washed, is handy, and sometimes on special at the big-box stores.
  7. electric frypans are definitely the way to go. Line the hotel pans w/ parchment paper, and also cover w/ parchment between the food & aluminum. That way the eggs don't turn green from oxidized aluminum. Why scrambled eggs? French toast in the oven might be just as easy (dip in egg then lay on cookie trays...) and then get you away from having to make toast :-) I did a continental breakfast for 100 and we had: bagels, muffins & Chinese buns; honey; jam; tahini. No one complained about the lack of butter on the table. There was also fresh fruit, yogurt & granola. some photos here http://www.richmondprc.org/photoalbum.php look for the album Food for All.
  8. Randi, do you ever get asked, by the seniors, for your recipes? I'm so glad that you are continuing to post this thread. For a while, it sounded as though you were becoming beyond discouraged, and I was sad for you. It's tricky to serve a large group, as sometimes the most vocal nay-sayers are indeed the minority. My knowledge of Ontario micro-geography is not strong. Do you have access to farm-shopping in season? Perhaps your program coordinator could arrange for "gleaning" to happen... ya know, where farmers allow volunteers to pick up the extra harvest. There's a tree-fruit sharing project in Vancouver which contributes to the food bank, community programs, etc., and in our Richmond neighborhood, a farm project which grows for the food bank & low income.
  9. I have an old Braun immersion blender, which also had a food chopper attachment available. The food chopper holds about 1 cup of food, and I used it A LOT for clients recovering from facial/oral surgery, and also for young children. I have no experience w/ seniors who need "thickened" foods. What I liked the most about using the stick blender+attachment option was that I felt I had more control over the consistency of the food. Food processors such as the KA and Cuisinart make a total puree quite quickly, which was not what I wanted.
  10. added to coleslaw (cabbage, carrots) when a client revealed an onion allergy. So, coleslaw was flavored w/ italian parsley, tarragon and cilantro.
  11. I've been to Genesis, Dunlevy and Russell. Depending upon the day, they all have good selection. You can sometimes check the catalogues on-line. Or, if you are looking for a specific item, call ahead to check stock. On the other hand, sometimes Costco has "just the right item", and Basic Stock is having a sale this week.
  12. Rhubarb was harvested on Tuesday for a workshop I taught on Thursday! Hurray! It's a beautiful red-stalked variety. We made the Rhubarb Compote (with wine) from epicurious. Yum! someone has noticed, though, that we always have at least one dish which contains alcohol. Hmm.
  13. Our program has a food budget of $3 per person. Which, in Vancouver, is just fine. We have Food Rescue organizations, who pick up left over produce, canned goods, et al, and sell to not-for-profits at about 30% of retail. This helps my budget a lot. I'm going to guess, CaliPoutine, that overall, you are right on target, budget-wise. So, sometimes you are a bit over, but other times, you will be a bit under. Two or three times a year, I like to check with our Administrator as to where we are with budget. Also, I keep track of what the week's food cost is, including paper consumables (napkins, foil, etc), and staples. Out of 100 guests each week, I can count on at least 3 to complain, and at least 5 to say something complimentary. But almost all of the guests will say "thank you". So, that is fine. Do you have the same group of volunteers each time? I have a core group, but new people every week. Keeps things "interesting".
  14. Actually, I always bake off the chicken separately, just 'cos it's faster, and then I get the drippings for gravy :-) Especially for 50+ portions Hug Hurray! Earlier this year, we had a number of complaints about "no meat" in the Community Meals. The reality was that I made 2 meatless meals in 6 weeks. Oh well.
  15. sometimes Granville Island Public Market, and maybe the Winter Farmers' Market. And does the Victoria Dr. Bosa's carry it?
  16. We served a soup a couple of weeks ago, which used the last bit of (frozen) Easter ham. One of the guests, asking where the ham came from, looked rather dismayed that we used Easter ham leftovers. We reassured him that the food had been frozen RIGHT AWAY after dinner in March.
  17. Before you present the "quote", have an idea of how long it will take for you to prepare the requested menu. I use a basic hourly rate + food + markup + contingency / # of guests = price per person sort of formula But, have an idea of what your minimum "call out rate" is, and what your food costs may be, so that you will have a range of prices for the menus. Or, you could just say "$$$ for the time, plus an hour for shopping, plus the food cost"
  18. I carry a lot of items in seagrass tote baskets with two handles. like these They are quite easy to carry when full; look for shapes which allow for stacking when empty. The Metro Picnic Basket seems to be insulated, and so would make a good choice for warm weather shopping.
  19. Depends on whether there are any bees nearby which can pollinate. Otherwise, you may get lots of flowers, but never any fruit. I live in a highrise, and haven't quite figured out how to get fruit from my apple trees... other than by planting 2 of them, and personally moving the pollen between the blossoms. :-) My vote goes for the gel mat(s); two small ones are more versatile than one large.
  20. Rosemary, Sage and Oregano are pretty hardy, and forgiving of neglect. They are still alive in my planters, even though I am somewhat gardening impaired. My daughter used to tell plant vendors not to sell me anything which actually needed watering. :-( Lavender is a perennial, and I have some which is still alive after over 10 years in my (lack of) care. Rhubard is pretty hardy as well. Mint is a hardy perennial; nice for mojitos! Beware, it is an invasive "weed", so planting in pots is definitely recommended.
  21. How much are we talking about here... 1kg, 10kg, 100 kg? For small quantities, check out Charlie's Chocolate Factory at Boundary & Canada Way in Burnaby (retail) , QZina in Richmond (cash & carry), or Sugar Art in Richmond (cash & carry). Sugar Art also has some equipment and tools.
  22. I, on the other hand, would have to be in an extreme situation before I would swear in front of my mom or kids. I am currently working in a Community Kitchen, housed in a church. We don't swear or curse much, at all. In fact, one of the "notes" I send to potential temp replacements or students is about "no swearing". This is quite a special environment, and rather different from almost everywhere else I've worked. Mind you, we are not continually putting out a la carte meals for 4-9 hours. We are making a single seating of 100-140 (never know how many), in a 4 hour window, with a constantly changing "brigade" (different teams of volunteers for each shift). Easy, right?
  23. Charging for bread is common practice in a number of establishments here in Vancouver, BC, Canada, notably smaller places (30 seats or less), or those whose menus are designed around tapas or "small plates" for sharing. At some Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine restaurants, naan/pita/roti are shown as a menu item, and charged appropriately. If there is a charge for bread, then there should obviously be a menu notation to indicate. Some places here give the option of smaller ($3) or larger ($5) portions. I don't object to paying for better bread. My DH, however, is a total bread-y, and has "some resistance around" having to order and pay for bread.
  24. Bingo! Another stumbling block may be using the actual term "internship". To me, the term implies that there will be an instructional or mentoring facet involved. Usually, I am not able to commit the time required to provide a proper internship to someone. However, I am often able to accommodate an extra volunteer, or extra prep hands (I work in not-for-profit agencies, so we have insurance for volunteers) And in addition, Harry, I wish to add that in the beginning, offering to work for free (outside of a "regular" volunteerism context) may be diluting your personal brand, rather than building it. In one of your later posts, I read "might as well work for free"; an indicator of some sense of resignation. Consider your self-worth: you are valuable, you have skills, and can bring a lot of informal experience to a kitchen. This brings to mind an old saying, into a new context "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free". Make them "buy the cow". Please do not give up. You are young, and (I'll make a broad assumption here) have time on your side in terms of gaining experience. Summer is coming. Restos and catering companies will need junior staff. Might as as well make some money while you learn.
  25. There are a number of shopkeepers who request that patrons do not bring food and drink into the store. Could it be that in a small space, a cup of coffee (or a soda or ice cream) would constitute a hazard for other patrons?
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