Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by KarenDW

  1. I love small dinner parties!

    Since it's an Auction-fundraiser situation, you will want to have a few menu options/suggestions as part of the auction display. Sometimes people need a little encouragement. I would set the "suggested retail value" at about $400+, depending on your menu and whether or not you are providing wine.


    your service could be a dinner planned to pair with the "winner's" favorite wines.

    Most likely you will have ample opportunity to meet the host, and also to check out the kitchen. It's not like you're being "surprised". Unless you want to up the ante and make it a Black Box dinner party.

    I agree w/ the suggestion to do your prep off-site as much as possible. You may want to invest in some "nice" containers for transporting all your ingredients. A bunch of clear, matching stuff. Also, take copies of the menu and recipes for the guests. Maybe even small containers of special condiments or spice combinations which you have used, as "take home favors".

    Relax, have fun, share.

  2. Loved the architecture in Vancouver, too.  People are very nice, and I bet it’s a great place to live.

    I agree; it's a great place to live.. Have lived in the region for over decades, and have watched the waterfront transformations on MANY sides. Mind you, rent on our 420 sq ft. downtown studio apt. is currently $1025/mo, unfurnished. Ugh.

    The experience you had a Kirin seems typical for many dim sum restaurants, especially in Richmond. It's unfortunate that the whole scenario is not more "user friendly".

    Hope you come back soon!

  3. Hey Randi!

    I think you're doin' a great job, especially w/ $3 pp. Your dinners look really yummy. And don't worry about using frozen veg. People don't mind, really. It's probably really familiar to most of them.

    For our Community Meal tonight, I made:

    Slow baked Southern BBQ pork

    Baked Potatoes w/ sourcream

    Coleslaw with cranberries & sunflower seeds

    Frozen Corn

    Pineapple Upside-down Cake

    Picked up most of the supplies yesterday. Started the "BBQ" roast at 10:30 this AM in a 300F oven. Left for a few hours, and met up w/ my volunteer helpers at 1:30. They mixed the cake batter, washed & halved potatoes, and mixed coleslaw. Dressing was mayo, buttermilk, vinegar, oil & seasonings. Come to think of it, we forgot to add the green onions. Oops.

    Using 40 kg of pork sirloin steaks, 30 lbs of potatoes, 15 pounds of shredded coleslaw mix, and 5 lbs of frozen corn, we had "just" enough for 105 people (98 guests, plus volunteers). The dessert was 8 cake mixes (2 layer size), baked in 2 full size (chafing dish) inserts and one half size insert.

    I am jealous of your hobart mixer! It would have been soooo handy for when I made meatloaf a couple of weeks ago.

    Thanks for starting this thread. I've found all kinds of helpful info and input here. It's been great inspiration, too, for my new job as Community Meal Chef.



  4. Today's meal.

    Mixed green salad w/ French dressing

    Martha Stewarts Meatloaf 101

    Baked spuds w/ sourcream and chives

    frozen veg( green beans, wax beans, carrots( not shown)

    Holy Cow Cake( choc. cake with choc. chips, caramel, creamcheese whipped topping, chopped up skor( heath) bars.)

    nice! Can you please PM me w/ the recipe for the cake? How long did it take to bake?

    I made the meatloaf yesterday at my other job.  I used the giant hobart to mix up the meat mixture.  I left it in the walk-in overnight and baked it off today.

    lucky you! access to a hobart.

    Have a great time in Florida, Randi!

  5. I'm not sure about the nuts.  I'll have to check with the co-ordinator. 

    Maybe use pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds to sub for nuts. If raw, shelled are on special anywhere, buy extra, and freeze them. They don't take much room; use plastic zip bags. You can roast/defrost them while preheating the oven for something else.

  6. I agree with KBJ about the mixed cheese. Depending on your budget, I would use about 1/3 to 1/2 lb. of cheese for every pound of pasta. Instead of a white sauce, you could use 1-2 eggs plus 2 cups of cream. It's less fussy, but may cost more than sauce made with butter, flour and skim milk. I suppose it also depends on concerns re: fat content, etc. Maybe you have mentioned that up-thread somewhere, but I have not read *all* the posts, just about 50%.

    My last dinner party I made mac and cheese "by request" for the kids, but the adults ate it up, too.

    Am totally enjoying all the posts on quantity cooking, here, and also making note of the menu suggestions. My latest gig is Community Meal Chef at the church up the road. Dinner for 100 on $300 or less. :)

  7. I'm starting with the assumption that the traditional convenience herbs and related products, like dried basil from the supermarket shelf, and packets of chili-spice powder, are bad news for good cooking. Certainly, a higher level of these products exists: dried herbs from Penzey's (or from your own garden) will be better than what you get at the local supermarket. But overall these items are just not great.

    In the Supermarket spice genre, I've found that the "table top spice grinders" from Cape Herb & Spice are a good alternative to ground dried spices.

    Fresh herbs are supposed to be better than anything, and they're certainly usually better than dried, but am I the only one who things fresh herbs from the supermarket are often light on flavor?

    herbs need to be grown under optimum conditions in order to have optimum flavor (think range fed chicken, the "real" kind). Much like greenhouse forced tomatoes, greenhouse herbs just don't have enough time to develop flavor before they are tall enough to harvest

    I like to think that homegrown and dried are best. But not all of us have the time/inclination. Looking for good convenience products is an adaptive measure for 21st Century living.

  8. just found out that I will have 25 extra people on Thursday, with the following dietary "requests": wheat allergy; dairy intolerance; lacto-ovo vegetarian; vegetarian; no fish; no tomatoes.

    So, am planning to add 8 servings of vegan veggie-loaf (brown rice, beans, lentils, mushrooms, tahihi) and to keep some fruit "separate" from the rest of the berry crumble.

  9. Hey Randi!

    sounds as though you are coming "into your own" with those old folks. LOL. Did you find out from the coordinator whether the food cost is averaged for the year, or month to month? It may turn out that in the summer local farmers, etc., will have good produce for you to keep your food cost down.

    Guess what? I have a new job as the Community Meal Chef for a local church. Yup. Dinner for 100 weekly. What WAS I thinking? Thursday will be my 3rd time in the kitchen. First week I assisted the out-going chef. Last week I planned the menu and started everything, then left an hour before service to deal with a previously planned function. This week I am planning, shopping and prepping everything.

    Volunteers come each week, to prep, serve and clean up, and I don't have to do any heavy lifting on the Day Of.

    My budget is also $3 per person. We do really, really simple meals: Entree, vegetable, potatoes/rice, and dessert. There is always iced tea and coffee, but those don't come out of my budget.

    Most recent menus:

    Baked ham, scalloped potatoes, ratatouille, jello w/ fruit

    Baked chicken w/ cacciatore sauce, steamed rice, green salad, bread pudding

    Meatloaf, roast potatoes, broccoli, berry crumble (this week)

    Scalloped potatoes were baked in the oven from raw, no cream sauce, just heavy cream. For the chicken, we baked off the chicken in trays, made the sauce separately, and then combined. I made 4 full inserts of bread pudding, and forgot to butter the pans. So sorry, cleanup volunteers! Berry crumble is going to be frozen mixed berries, tossed w/ sugar and cornstarch, sprinkled w/ granola and baked.

    Someone else is using "my" kitchen until 1:30 on meal day (service is at 5:30), so this week's meal needs to be easy.

    We have a "food rescue" service here in Vancouver, so it helps to keep my food cost down. Also, I'm all in favor of shopping at only a couple of places to keep the price of gas down.

    You're doing a great job, Randi! Glad you had a chance to vacation somewhere warm this winter, you lucky girl.

  10. I wish him well and hope my fellow West Richmondites don't disappoint me by rejecting this mans vision and superior product.

    Hi fellow W.Richmondite. I have been watching, albiet not as closely as some, the opening of the new bakery. My hope was that the product would be similar to Transylvanian, but with not so much of a heel or bottom crust. Yes, I was fearing for the tip of my knife. What I WAS able to consume of the Trans. loaf was wonderFUL! Unfortunately, a $10 loaf of bread is not going to become a staple on my kitchen table. I don't even get the one pound loaves at Cobbs, because it spoils long before we can finish. OK, I'll admit, if the loaf gets into the freezer, no one here looks at it again except me.

    I wonder whether Nikolai would consider baking half lb. loaves for $6?

    You're totally right about getting into Herringers. What do you think of the additions to the product line at both Herringers and Papi's Market?

  11. We had our wedding luncheon @ Monk McQueens upstairs. Great room for 50-80.

    What about

    Horizons @ Burnaby Mountain

    Fish House?

    Fiddlehead Joes

    or, book one of the rooms @ the Rowing Club and cater in? Ask for fine-dine servers, and increase the server/guest ratio... you just might be able to replicate the restaurant experience.

    oooh oooh... just thought of...

    Wedgewood hotel

    or how abou the wine bar @ Hotel Vancouver? Not private, but cozy.

  12. I go to 3 different stores trying to get the best deals so I can stay within budget.

    Hi there.

    this is SUCH an interesting thread. I used to be part of a team which made community dinners in a church kitchen as fundraisers. Three or four times a year. Can you say "chow mein for 300"? It's a real challenge to coordinate food budget, prep time, AND volunteers! Good for you Randi!

    Not sure whether this has been mentioned up-thread (menopause brain happening here), but are you able to "tag along" an order with your other boss at the catering co for delivery the day of your seniors' gig? Things like milk, eggs, carrots or whatever. Of course, you need to "know your prices", but I wonder if all the driving around is a big of a drag?

    That's why it's so important to get formal feedback (in the form of a questionnaire, for example) from the seniors, if you haven't already.

    maybe a Volunteer could do surveys?

    Take care. When is your holiday?


  13. Hi Serj. How did the meeting go on Friday? Hopefully you and your potential client were able to set the groundwork for the project. Or, were able to see that the project is not for you.

    Some years ago, I had was referred, by an acquaintance, to a potential client to cater their wedding. This would have been an important opportunity for my new business, and certainly a workable group size (50 people, cas. buffet dinner, outdoors). There would have been financial gain, as a dinner for 50 is nothing to sneeze at. However, my experience in other wedding businesses (not food) has been fraught with: changes of mind and mood, weather fluctuations, interferring or well-meaning relatives of all sorts (not to mention Momzilla--who would be me, btw, at my daughter's wedding!), tempermental brides/grooms... and all sorts of other intangibles and "expectations" of who knows whom. Rather than take on the project and be run ragged, I declined on account of "I'm not ready for such emotionally vested functions as weddings". I reminded the client that her wedding was such a special occasion that perhaps she would like to choose a company with more experience and infrastructure. The client pressed for an estimate anyways, so I did a little research, and made sure that my price was in the middle of the pack for our region. I also referred a couple of other caterers, with whose work I am familiar.

    That was three years ago. After working for a large catering company, as well as running my own business, I have acquired experience that would enable me to say "yes" to a small wedding.

    Only you can know whether you will have enough practice to stay cool as a cucumber at a wedding... as K8 has mentioned, outdoor adds a whole other realm of variables.

    Best of luck!

  14. Hi Alexis.

    I trust things are going well with your thesis.

    There are myriad ways of working with food in this world, not all of them involving restaurant cooking. You don't mention your age & physical ability, but certainly the latter is a factor in the hotel and restaurant world.

    There has been no mention on this thread (that I've noticed) regarding catering, personal catering, private chef or personal chef work. When I retired from the graphic arts industry 4 years ago, I wanted to further develop my professional culinary skills. For a middle aged single mom, the options of private culinary school (fast, but expensive) and public trade college (inexpensive, but more than 12 months of training) were "not really" options. I opted to continue with volunteer catering and theatrical catering, while working as a server & prep person for a banquet caterer. Some health issues have arisen, and so long hours "on the line" are out of the question for me.

    So, my current business is personal chef, working in the client's home, and preparing everything on site. Other than a food handler's certificate, 30 years of cooking for groups, and seminar-style cooking classes, I have no formal training. I DO, however, have: passion for food, very good knife skills, a thorough understanding of classic technique, ability to translate portion sizes and calculate margins, artistic sense, and good (nearly fanatical) organizational skills. For me, Personal Chef is not full time work, but the $$ vs. hours worked are very good. I also work part time in FOH of a casual fine dine resto.

    Unfortunately, I haven't found anywhere willing to take me on yet. Maybe I'm not going at the right times b/c I never get to talk to any kitchen staff. I haven't given up though biggrin.gif I'll do my rounds again the first week of March.

    Keep in mind that Jan/Feb is typically a slower time for restaurants, so the need for staff is lower. Yes, try again in March, and then April, as the weather gets better. Our "summer hire" starts at the beginning of April. Then we do another round in August, to be ready when the students go back to school in Sept.

    Good luck!

    Feel free to PM me if you want/need more specific info.


  15. more on bags :unsure:

    Considering that the Costco concept was introduced as a way for small businesses to acquire supplies, it doesn't surprise me at all that there are no carry-bags. From an environmental point of view, perhaps not adding (even more) plastic bags to the consumer life balances out the big-box-store effect on the local landscape and wildlife. Especially in areas which were previously open land, i.e., on a migration path or something.

    Of course, there are some locations which garner a large volume of walk-in traffic (i.e., new Downtown Vancouver store), and so the re-usable bags for purchase are a welcome change. Apparently those bags will hold a 24-pack of bottled water.

  16. Hi David. What a lucky guy! Women, and chocolate... they'll have so many endorphins running around in their brains, all you'll have to do is smile and look pretty.

    Considering that this is a bachelorette PARTY, and that there will be some fun and games involved, I would start by finding out just what level of fun and games are typical for this group. Then depending upon their enjoyment of libations, and your budget...

    1. Welcome cocktail of chocolate martinis

    2. Hand moulding truffles... perhaps with some anatomical references?

    Depending upon how keen the group is for actually *making* something, this activity could be pre-cluded by making the ganache, with a consensus from the group on the liqueur(s) to be used flavouring

    3. Chocolate tastings, with appropriate wine pairing, while the ganache cools

    4. Dip/coat the ganache centres

    5. Coffee and another round of tastings? perhaps two or three types of brownie recipe. I noticed that Starbucks has developed a "fine dining" roast blend Casi Cielo which could stand in if you don't have a favorite craft roaster.

    6. Everyone packs their truffle goodies into mini-handbags to take along

    If you have the ganache pre-made, and the coating chocolate already liquid, this could probably all be completed within an hour (again, depending upon the level of fun and games, and number of cocktails!)

    Keeping in mind that the dress of the day may be dressier rather than more casual, it would be thoughtful to have some aprons handy. Gloves would keep those manicures tidy, too. Pretty stickers w/ the guests' names for identifying the sample bags should keep chocolate-haze-induced squabbles to a minimum.

    Have fun!

    edited for decorum

  17. Heh. I don't actually share any cooking with Fearless Housemate... He very seldom cleans anything either--I often walk into the kitchen in the morning and find bowls, counters, etc. encrusted with remains of meals made groggily at 4am

    It helps that I actually don't have very much fancy-shmancy kitchen gear, and the little I do have, I keep carefully put away where he can't find it. And if there's stuff of his in the way on the counter, I just pile it on one of his other piles of random crap.

    This sounds frighteningly like my daughter's situation. She keeps her good pots (gifts from me), and her favorite foods, in a separate locked cupboard in the shared kitchen! Oh, and write her name, in big black marker, on her containers of food.

  • Create New...