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Posts posted by KarenDW

  1. What's "poor-people food"?  It sounds like something my mother would say! :laugh:

    Firstly, the terminology is not one I would use. Let's just be clear about that :raz:

    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. I'd rather there be a little too much than not enough.

    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. What would be an ideal per person budget for the scenario that Cali is setting up for?  (I guess that's a separate question from your ideal per person budget.  :wink: )

    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. Is this a huge concern when it comes to catering?  It seems to me that you have a fine line to walk between not having enough to eat and having too much, so I'm curious how you do it.

    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. :shock:

  5. 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.

  6. I'm liking the look of that pork paprikash.  Got the small batch recipe?

    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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. I'm not held responsible for going over budget, but it still bugs me when I do        ( when it actually has nothing to do with me)

    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". :wink:

  10. I got a frantic call from the director yesterday morning.  She was worried that I was going to place raw chicken on top of the stuffing.  I told her it would be fine( people around here stuff their turkeys, although I never do).  I decided just to bake the chicken separately to assuage her fears.   

    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

    One lady said " I could just cry because there is no potatoes and gravy"  I said " You have stuffing" and she said " where" and I pointed to the bowl and she said " with corn in it?  and I said " Yep".


    Another lady said " This is an exceptional meal". 


    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.

  11. I cook for the Seniors tomorrow.  I went to the main office to make up a soup ( instead of salad) to use the roasts that were left over( I think they were from January).

    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.

  12. 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"

  13. Now I need a replacement for my plastic grocery bags. I'm contemplating a basket - anyone use one? They are so cute, just not sure if they are more/less practical than a reusable bag (there are just two of us so we don't have huge grocery trips).

    Reisenthal Basket

    Metro Basket

    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.

  14. Bumping up this thread to ask if one should bother to purchase a small meyer lemon tree if one lives in a rental in Central New Jersey?

    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.

  15. 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.

  16. Does anyone know of a place in Vancouver that carries a good selection of candy-making & chocolate-making supplies?

    Or a Canadian on-line source? I'd rather avoid paying duty if possible.

    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.

  17. A kitchen is like a family, and I have no problem letting a few bad words slip in front of my family.

    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? :raz:

  18. 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.

  19. [The risk might have nothing to do with reliability.  It could be the business insurance doesn't cover anyone who is not a paid employee.  It would be easier if people would just say so, but maybe that's part of the reason.


    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.

  20. Since I don't drink coffee, I hadn't thought about this at all, but the last time my husband and I were at Pike Place, he bought a cup of coffee and we were walking through the market.  We stopped at the crumpet shop to pick up a bag to take home and get a few to eat on the way.  They wouldn't let him come in the door with his coffee.  We weren't trying to make them lose money by buying a beverage elsewhere; we were just walking around.  Even though I can see not taking a coffee into a restaurant, are you just supposed to dump your pricey coffee every time you go into another place?  It irritated me.

    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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