Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Catering for a doctor's party: need ideas/help


gfron1
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've been catering ever since I took over my cafè four months ago, but every single job has been small and/or cheap. This is my first chance to have fun and do what I want. The doc has a really nice budget so money won't be the object, and its a chance to show the medical community what I can offer - which is hugely important in this economy especially as 5% of our community got laid off yesterday at the mines (our town is in a world of pain right now). So I need to submit a proposal by the end of today for what I want to do. We'll negotiate after that, and its a very friendly doc, so this will be easy, but its my chance to have fun and impress (their expectations will be low since all the other caterers do salmon or enchiladas).

The party is mostly for his staff which are mostly small town locals - ie not well traveled, possibly afraid of exotic foods, young with big appetites. I'll be able to take care of the dessert side - classic French Bouche Noel and some other over-the-top dessert. Its only for 15 people. I want to have both traditional stuff, but also incorporate some "molecular gastronomy" techniques that I've been doing in my tasting menus.

So, does that description of the guests fit any of you? Have you served a group like this? Recommendations?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The doc has a really nice budget so money won't be the object, and its a chance to show the medical community what I can offer - which is hugely important in this economy especially as 5% of our community got laid off yesterday at the mines (our town is in a world of pain right now).  Recommendations?

Instead of knives and forks, I'd use scalpels and forcepts as tableware! That would be a big surprise and I'll bet they know how to use them too!

doc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Be conservative and just do food that's good. Chances are they are fairly conservative diners. Stay away from offal unless you know that they like it. I hate to say it, but in my experience that is what the majority of doctor and their staffs (professional and office) prefer. Despite my preferences. my own group opted for a conservative country club buffet - yawn.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

are you bringing the food to the office? What are the dynamics of the event? What are the things you are thinking about?

Most of the food that gets brought to a doctors office is pretty bland and simple. Because of the schedule of the office everyone may or may not eat together. Often times hot food is cold by the time many of the doctors/staff get to eat it.

Mike

The Dairy Show

Special Edition 3-In The Kitchen at Momofuku Milk Bar

Link to comment
Share on other sites

are you bringing the food to the office?  What are the dynamics of the event? What are the things you are thinking about?

Most of the food that gets brought to a doctors office is pretty bland and simple.  Because of the schedule of the office everyone may or may not eat together.  Often times hot food is cold by the time many of the doctors/staff get to eat it.

The party is at the docs home and everyone will be able to eat together. I typically do 90% of my prep in my kitchen, then do some last second finish work on site. In this case, for example, I've been toying with a sous vide bison tenderloin, that I would pan sear on site. That's just a thought...not committed to it at all. I'm shooting for big impact, fresh but safe.

Docsconz - this doc is adventurous, but I think you're dead on with his staff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with John impress everyone with good food.

You've got to please the majority of your guests who aren't that adventurous.

I would aim to impress everyone also with the use of high quality, familiar ingredients. If you've got experience with doing dishes sous vide and your confident in the dish then I would definetly do it, because it will be awesome But I wouldn't try a lot of new things on these people, because A . they may not understand or appreciate it, and B. it could be difficult to execute and make you look bad.

The client has picked you because of he likes your food. I would stick to what people know, but embellish it.

Edited by mjc (log)

Mike

The Dairy Show

Special Edition 3-In The Kitchen at Momofuku Milk Bar

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with the others to go conservative, unless your client specifically asks for a particularly adventurous meal. During economic times like these I wonder if classic comfort foods might give a better impression. By that i mean there's the possibility that over-the-top stuff like molecular gastronomy could be seen as being too chichi and ostentatious.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

-What's the format? If this were anyone else posting, I'd guess buffet ( :raz: ), but with you I am going to guess it's a tasting menu (:smile:).

-Has he ever been to any of your microcoursed extravaganzas, and if not, how do you feel about repeating dishes that were successful or doing seasonal riffs on one or two of them?

-If it's an option, I'd definitely start with a really creative champagne or sake cocktail... I recently made Shoguns, which were very nice (junmai sake, ginger syrup, fresh lemonade, Cointreau, lychee, hibiscus tea float). You could make a champagne with sage syrup and prickly pear...

When I get your answers, I'll think of more...

Edited by Verjuice (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The bison tenderloin sous vide sounds like a great idea for this group,

here's why-

You get to use a food that's familiar, but prepare it in a way that is exciting and new. That's the way you should be thinking, because IMO this style/food is easy for conservative diners to approach yet appreciate as something special. Also adventurous eater's will like the creativity.

I don't do too much SW style cooking but...you could do enchiladas w/ a twist. Stacked enchiladas "napolian style" w/ an ancho or some different sauce and cotijo cheese crumbles. Take something familiar and prepare it in a very different way than expected.

conservative= same as everyone else.

Jeff

Edited by jvalentino (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The party is mostly for his staff which are mostly small town locals - ie not well traveled, possibly afraid of exotic foods, young with big appetites.  I'll be able to take care of the dessert side - classic French Bouche Noel and some other over-the-top dessert.  Its only for 15 people.  I want to have both traditional stuff, but also incorporate some "molecular gastronomy" techniques that I've been doing in my tasting menus. 

So, does that description of the guests fit any of you?  Have you served a group like this?  Recommendations?

For about 10 years I helped my sister prepare her office staff Christmas party at her home. The staff were pretty much as described by you except that they knew how seriously into cooking their MD boss was and it would beat eating out at any restaurant in the small town where she/they lived. We tried many bits of exotica over the years mostly in order to delight ourselves and have fun with the cooking. Eventually we learned that they would eat and enjoy things like gougeres stuffed with bacon and pickled onions (Judy Rodgers recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook) and grilled beef tenderloin with various dipping sauces (with weird names like chimmichurri :huh: ) but were never universally thrilled with anything too "out there".

Eventually we compromised by always making the gougeres and the tenderloin (by popular demand) nixing the sweetbreads and other offal except chicken livers and throwing in only one new (translate "strange") dish each year.

The last year she did this I think we made Vietnamese rice paper rolls with dipping sauces (comment - "would have been better deep fried" - they may be healthcare professionals but this is a Christmas party!); Bagna Cauda with vegetables and bread (where I grew up and my sister practiced medicine this was not considered strange as everyone associated it with winter eating and all those of Italian heritage had blue or green eyes)l a Christmas salad with greens, pomegranates, avocado, some kind of cheese and spiced pecans; the beef tenderloin and sauces; roasted fingerling and sweet potatoes with fresh herbs; some green vegetable cooked au gratin; and at least two desserts whose identity escapes me at the moment.

....and lots of beer. That seemed to please the most :raz:

Kate

Link to comment
Share on other sites

-What's the format? If this were anyone else posting, I'd guess buffet ( :raz: ), but with you I am going to guess it's a tasting menu (:smile:).

-Has he ever been to any of your microcoursed extravaganzas, and if not, how do you feel about repeating dishes that were successful or doing seasonal riffs on one or two of them?

-If it's an option, I'd definitely start with a really creative champagne or sake cocktail... I recently made Shoguns, which were very nice (junmai sake, ginger syrup, fresh lemonade, Cointreau, lychee, hibiscus tea float). You could make a champagne with sage syrup and prickly pear...

When I get your answers, I'll think of more...

To answer your questions. He has not been to any of my events, but knows my food by reputation. He suggested buffet. I suggested Family Style. Same thing but better presentation. And I can't do alcohol since I don't have license yet.

Everyone's comments are really helpful - thanks. I think I'm getting a good picture of what I should do. I'm going to do the bison tenderloin SV, finished with a molè dulce pan sear. I also think the Thai lime shrimp RECIPE. I'll make a bunch of my sourdough rolls since they'll expect them. For desserts I'm going to do a few things including a traditional French Bouche Noel (not the rolled version) and a flourless chocolate tarte. What about sides and desserts? I'd like to incorporate piñon and pomegranate in things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

-What's the format? If this were anyone else posting, I'd guess buffet ( :raz: )

Hey! I rarely do buffet. Only when that's what the client requests. Of course I also rarely do the tasting menu. Most of my jobs wind up being app, main, dessert with the occasional amuse and/or pre-dessert and/or petit fours thrown in. Yes, I saw the "raz" icon. No offense taken. :biggrin:

Rob, I rarely use the "new cuisine" techniques that I practice, learn, experiment with for catering. As already mentioned, if they're not adventurous and don't "get it" then they will look down their noses at it. That being said, you gotta do your thing. If they want you, they gotta want what you do to some extent.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We're really excited to have you cater the dinner for our employees. I

talked with everyone this morning, and we have a spouse with an allergy to

walnuts or pecans. Our employee isn't sure which nut it is. One employee

expressed a dislike for sushi. Some of us can eat pretty spicy food, and

others can't take much spice at all. I do know several of our employees

are died in the wool meat and potato eaters, but of course, several of us

like more exotic food. I'm not sure I'm helping with your menu ideas or

creating more confusion, but I guess probably par for the course for an

office staff. I have a pretty solid count of 13 people, but figured we

could plan for 15 and have leftovers. Any thoughts on that? I look forward

to your proposal and meal ideas.

So this is what they sent me today. It helps and it doesn't help. For what they're willing to pay, I think I should throw a whole bunch of things at them. I won't please everyone with everything, but with enough quality food, they'll all leave happy and impressed.

So, my thought is to propose three dishes ready when guests arrive:

-Thai shrimp

-Sushi (I've been getting great raves for my sushi lately)

-A third appetizer finger food

Then propose that I stay on site until dinner is served. They don't want sit down - they want party dinner. With that I could sear my tenderloin and split.

-Sourdough rolls

-Veggie idea?

-Starch idea: I'm leaning toward a sweet potato puree with candied ginger

-Bison tenderloin finished in molè dulce, served over savory granola

*I'll throw in some more molecular zingers for fun to please the docs who will want it.

-French bouche noel

-Flourless chocolate cake

-Some citrus/fruit moussey thing tbd

Reactions? Sound good? Ideas for the few missing items?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do think that two seafood apps might be a bit much. i would go with one seafood, one veg, one chicken or pork (since you're serving a beef-like meat with the meal).

While the doc didn't mention any vegetarians, I do think it is a good idea to plan for at least a couple of people not wanting to eat a ton of red meat for dinner. So, "beef" up the side dishes a bit with an entree-like veggie dish. With the bison maybe a mixed root vegetable gratin/lasagne type thing? It is wintery and people like creamy starchy things. That might change the sweet-potato puree idea...but hey, I'm just throwing out suggestions.

You don't mention a cheese course, that might be nice at the end (family style).

Also, no salad/cold veggie offering? Maybe that's what you're planning for m.g.?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm confused - what's the "Traditional Buche de Noel" that isn't rolled?

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks Alana - yes, I'll do a nice greens salad. And I'll work on the third app. The sushi will have both seafood and veg which will help.

Lala - my understanding of yule logs is that there is what we typically see - the rolled buttercream dessert decorated to look like a log. And there is a French version that looks like a half of a tube with many layers inside. It is a frozen Yule Log similar to an ice cream cake, only often it’s not made of ice cream but frozen mousse of some sort. It is an entrement that can be eaten year round. The latter is what I'm going for.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While the doc didn't mention any vegetarians, I do think it is a good idea to plan for at least a couple of people not wanting to eat a ton of red meat for dinner.  So, "beef" up the side dishes a bit with an entree-like veggie dish.  With the bison maybe a mixed root vegetable gratin/lasagne type thing?  It is wintery and people like creamy starchy things.  That might change the sweet-potato puree idea...but hey, I'm just throwing out suggestions.

You don't mention a cheese course, that might be nice at the end (family style).

Also, no salad/cold veggie offering?  Maybe that's what you're planning for m.g.?

Alana makes some good points; it's wise to have at least one non-red meat main dish, whether it's vegetarian or poultry (or both).

Gfron, you mentioned wanting to use pinon and pomegranate. A simple but tasty way to use the former is to add a generous amount of toasted nuts to string beans and well-browned shallots or onions. Pomegranate would make a lovely poultry glaze, or perhaps sorbet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really don't want to be the stick in the mud that doesn't think outside the frying pan so I'll pose this as a question in case I'm just that far behind the curve. Does continent jumping work well in the hands of the skilled? I'm not at all questioning your skills Rob, I follow your blog and know you know what you're doing. I'm just wondering about going from Thai shrimp and sushi to mole dulce to French desserts. I realize this is just an outline of the app/main/dessert so I'm assuming you're planning transitional courses that make it a smooth flight from continent to continent. I know you don't want to put all of the surprises out there too early but I'm looking forward to seeing how you tie it all together.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a third app, something easy to consume whilst talking (as for sushi, that can be a bit messy when standing up...). The aforementioned gougeres are a fantastic idea, or some kind of savory profiterole, as they are so unbelievably easy to make and play with- imagine of piping in a warm filling, like these but as choux puffs. You could also play with spoons, shots, or skewers.

Considering the mole dulce, how about a vegetarian starch dish with some smokey roasted gingered sweet potato, mote (fried/crusty roasted hominy), and plantain, complimented by queso fresco, star anise, oregano and some fruit- apricot maybe? Or here you could incorporate some pomegranate.

As for dessert, I'm feeling the words "pine nut praline," coming into play.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hear ya T2C, but I guess I'm viewing this meal differently. I think I've got a diverse group of guests who are enjoying a party-food dinner versus a progression based dinner. So my thought is to give them a mix of things that will knock their socks off. You've seen my tasting menus which are hyper progressive (progressive in taste, texture, temperature, etc), but here I don't feel the need to be respectful to that. Their original idea was a potluck before the doc said no. So I've viewed this as a good potluck. Does that make any sense?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That makes sense. I missed the casual party-dinner part somehow. Sushi, Thai, French desserts... Rob puts the luck in potluck. I might be more inclined to attend them if I knew I'd find food like that on the tables.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know this is probably a really annoying thing to hear, but from my own experience it's hard to go to a function if you're diabetic, need to eat very healthily, or something like that, and for everything to be things you would have trouble eating. Could you just do a fresh fruit platter for dessert, without the mousse?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our community is off the charts with diabetes. I asked specifically for any special dietary restrictions and except for the one nut allergy, there were none. But point well taken. I like accommodating diets - its a challenge. I'll find some fancy, but diabetes friendly dessert.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...