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Sep 19, 2009 03:07 PM

Clueless Brother Hosting Brunch for 80. Ideas?

First, some background:

My brother is the executive director of a non-profit organization called Global Lives ( It's art meets sociology -- their goal, according to the website, is to "record 24 hours in the lives of ten people that roughly represent the diversity of our planet's population. These ten lives will come together in an innovative video installation and form the basis of a collaborative online video encyclopedia of human life experiences."

Thus far, they have completed shoots in San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Malawi, Japan, China, Indonesia, India, Lebanon, and Serbia.

So here's the part where I need your help -- he's hosting a fundraiser brunch in San Francisco for 80 people in about three weeks. The event will be held in a private home with a decently-sized/equipped kitchen, and some prep work can be done in advance.

Any ideas for what to serve at such a big brunch? Food inspired by the countries in which they've done video shoots? A giant basket of bagels and a tub of cream cheese? ;-). I'd love any suggestions, as well as helpful hints for accommodating such a big crowd! Thanks in advance.

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  1. Is this a standing or sit down brunch? I will go with a stand up buffet. If there is room have the food placed around the dining room, living room, etc. That helps with crowds in one spot. Spread your people out all over the house and decks if that applies. Have lots of places people can set dinks while they eat. Look for plates that will hold a drink cup. i

    Go to Costco and buy dried fruit, little quiches, shrimp salad, bagels, cream cheese, and the wrapped sandwiches. Costco's muffins are the best. They just need a little soft butter, no heat really needed. Also the little cocktail franks with a sauce in a crockpot/warmer are always a hit. Buy cheese trays and meat trays that he can replate on real silver/ china whatever. Or just buy sliced meats, sliced cheese and crackers and little dinner rolls.

    Have mixed veggies for the vegans. Do not put meat and cheese on the same trays, freaks out vegetarians.

    If he is into cooking there are lots of sausage and eggs casseroles that can be made ahead. And there are mushroom dishes for vegans that are tasty.

    Pour OJ or Mimosas.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Janet

      Wow, this sounds like a very low-stress solution! I will pitch it to him and see if he's stubborn about preparing the food himself or not. He's very into organic/local/sustainable food, so it may be that the Costco solution is not appealing. Sounds good to me though =)

    2. operagirl, are you saying your brother has to MAKE the food, or just decide?

      A "clueless" cook cannot prepare brunch for 80 -- and it's a fantasy to pretend otherwise, unless he wants to go "cute" and do a cold-cereal bar.

      Hell, I'm what I'd call a much better than average home cook, and I wouldn't take that task on without 16 hours' sleep, a case of Aleve and six interns from the local chef school.

      Seriously, 80 for brunch calls for a caterer. The price may seem prohibitive, but when he's freaking out because the clock just hit 7:30 a.m. and he's been cooking since noon the day before, he'd pay twice the price to turn the clock back and allow himself to make a sane decision.

      3 Replies
      1. re: dmd_kc

        Hehe okay to be fair my brother is not THAT clueless. He is a good cook and can handle the cooking -- he lived in a co-op at Berkeley where they were often responsible for cooking dinner for 50 or more! He's just clueless about what to make for the event.

        1. re: dmd_kc

          I second, dmdkc. I've catered a wedding for 35 and it was an immense chore - never again. He's certainly going to need a lot of help if all things are going to make it to the finish line at the same time. And, as executive director, he'll need to be available to mingle and schmooze, not be in the back squirting a pastry bag.

          If he's a bonifide non-profit with tax exempt status, he might approach a few caterers who could each donate a course and take the write off. Getting a few volunteers from local culinary programs or even high school culinary vo-tech programs in exchange for a cash tip and a letter of commendation for their files (they all need them) might be a better way to go.


          1. re: Chefpaulo

            Yes, Global Lives is a bonafide non-profit. I will certainly alert him to this possibility! Thanks for the tip.

        2. I also think buffet is the way to go. I think it can be done, but I think he needs to delegate some of the work/prep to others in the association - which I'm sure he was planning to do anyway.

          I would also make breakfast casseroles, as someone suggested earlier. That way, he could prepare them all the night before and then bake them just before people arrive. Here's a good (and healthy) Ellie Krieger stratta recipe that I've made:

          Since this serves eight, he'd probably need another 8-9 casseroles. I'd choose several different stratta recipes and maybe do a couple of french toast casseroles as well. Does the home have a double oven? If not, maybe some neighbors or other guests would be willing to pitch in and cook a few. They take an hour to cook so rotating and baking them in the same oven won't work.

          I'd then buy cut fruit (or cut it up myself) and serve that; buy some good breakfast breads and bagels (with spreads) from a local bakery; and get some good organic sausages (pork, chicken, lamb) and do those on the grill.

          He could also set up an area where guests can get juice/coffee and maybe make their own mimosas.

          1. I was at a brunch recently with about 100 people - lots of stuff exactly like Janet suggested. The host enlisted the help of a couple close friends, to scramble lots of eggs (like a couple hundred). It was kind of fun, and the eggs came out in waves, a couple of dozen at a time, on a big platter.

            1. I would try to focus on food that is good eaten at room frittatas...or tortilla espanolas. Or served strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar. Have a few bagel with fixing platters. I'd set up coffee stations and juice stations. Good luck.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                As other folks said, Stratas! Mix them up, with spinach, feta and dill; sausage, mozzarella and parm; mushrooms, basil, tomatoes and mozz, or let your imagination go wild. Have him go to a good bakery near closing to get bread -- country sourdough -- at half-price, if he has such a thing in his town.

                Oven Roasted Ratatouille: Instead of doing everything on the stovetop, cut different colored peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, zukes, red onions, garlic cloves, and roast for thirty or so minutes, until they are all done. Toss with balsamic and olive oil while hot. Sprinkle with chopped basil and parsley or whatever herbs you choose, while still warm. Serve at room temp. If he is good with a knife, this will take about 20 minutes to get into the oven.

                Other roasted vegetables: carrots, potatoes and parsnips, which are always a favorite at any party I ever did. Again, if he is good with a knife, this is a breeze. Cut them all into thick strips about the same size. Toss with olive oil, and roast at 350. Add some salt and pepper along the way. After they come from the oven, add some fresh herbs like chopped flat-leaf parsley and thyme.

                Bagels with his own flavored cream cheese. There are many recipes on the web for "boursin" flavored cc, and I did this recently for a party. It was a hit.

                Have fun!