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Books on Cooking for Crowds


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Can anyone suggest any books on cooking for large groups?

Topics like what can be prepared ahead, scaling recipes etc. I don't do this enough to know the tricks and wisdom of the trade, but enough that I need some insight in how to plan a menu and pull it off without going mad (or having it turn out like school cafeteria food). Surely someone has captured something on this?

M

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Second the professional books. In particularly, your specific problem is that of a caterer.

I used to cook for twenty frequently at a beach house. Start early. To this day I think of more coarsely chopped garlic, onions, etc. as "beach cut". It helped that everyone was starving. Half wanted a diverse international menu, and half were sensitive only to timing and fuel value. So maintain schedule at all costs, and figure out what you're capable of doing within this constraint.

Equipment: It is mandatory that you shop at a restaurant supply house for cookware that is appropriately scaled to your quantities. The "cafeteria effect" is when a dish that tasted sauteed for eight, tastes steamed for twenty four. Here, it isn't the recipe that needs adjusting, it's the pan. With three times the surface area, a strong enough stove, and attention appropriate to the raised stakes, one is back on familiar ground. Yet most amateurs don't make this adjustment. Same with knives, cutting area: you want your food prep to take more space, not more time. With a huge cutting surface you can stage prepared ingredients with no wasted motion.

Above all, if you don't do this frequently, is menu selection. The two meals I'll make for a hundred are barbecued pork butt, and gumbo. For the gumbo I have a very large pot.

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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Some community and church fundraising cookbooks offer sections on "cooking for a crowd" or "cooking for 50". While these are not professional recipes, I've found lots of practical tips on volume cooking, often with ordinary-equipment workarounds (when you don't have resto scale pans, storage, etc). Groups who do shelter cooking, provide meals for volunteers, etc can be good sources for the nonprofessional cook using a nonprofessional kitchen set up.

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When I started cooking on a back-stage feed-the-rreenactors kitchen 10 years ago with mostly home kitchen equipment it only took me s couple of weekends to start buying larger gear. Now I and my wife run 2 of these kitchens, one in spring and one in the fall, and we use either equipment from restaurant supply stores or large equipment from places like Bed, Bath and Beyond. I can't imagine feeding 70 people using home kitchen equipment. Just my perspective.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Check out The Professional Chef, the recipe servings are for 10, so those can be easily scaled up or down. Also, look at Food for Fifty, that may be what your looking for.

Second The Professional Chef. It also has introductory chapters on how scale, cost, calculate yield, etc that are all useful for cooking for crowds within a budget.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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