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Self-catering a party for 22 - how's my menu?

I'm throwing an elopement party on a friend's roofdeck and doing the food myself (I know, insanity). The roof is equipped with a couple of large grills, and although we'll have plates and utensils there's not really a good table to seat everyone so I wanted to keep it mostly finger foods, albeit in enough quantity to make a meal of it. I also wanted things that could either be served at room temp or easily reheated on the grill. The desserts are sort of non-negotiable, as they are my husband's favorites! Here's what I'm thinking:

Chicken, beef and vegetable kebabs with flatbreads (I was going to do 10lbs of chicken and 7 of beef, just to be safe)
Stuffed mini peppers with mole and plantains (60pc)
Green olives in cheese pastry (80pc)
Prosciutto wrapped stuffed dates (80pc)
Mini roasted tomato, ricotta and pesto tartlets (one sheet tray)
Crudites
Hummus and dip
Fruit and cheese
Chicken liver pate
Crackers, pita chips
key lime squares
carrot cake
german chocolate cake

Does this seem like enough food/enough variety? Thanks!

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  1. IMO, you're going to have a lot of food leftover unless you have some serious eaters.

    I would also consider adding a vegetarian option or pure veg kebab. Consider a salad for lighter fare and/or something like a green bean salad.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Den

      The kebabs will be pure chicken, pure beef and pure veg - although I know there aren't any strict vegetarians, there are a few who aren't huge meat eaters. I was worried about leftovers too but I'd rather have too much than too little. The party starts at 6:30 and goes till 11:30 so it will be dinner, not just cocktail snacks. What quantities should I cut?

      I was thinking about a salad of some type but that's exactly the sort of thing that requires a plate, which I didn't want. What about something like a hollowed-out cucumber slice with a marinated shrimp inside or something?

      1. re: biondanonima

        You're going to have a lot of food...too much food.
        I would do total of about 12lbs of meat... two sides and one or two desserts.. . chips/dip...keep it simple - Even if it doesn't look like enough, it will be - and if you're really worried, buy some extra hummus and chips and keep them downstairs in your friends fridge.
        Ok... just reread your post...so three desserts

        1. re: harryharry

          Personally, I would love the variety of this menu if I were a guest at the party. I wouldn't cut any of the items (or add any -- they sound great as is) but I agree that I'd cut down on the meat by a few pounds. For 22 people at an elopement party (as opposed to just a casual house party) who are looking for a meal, I think this sounds perfect.

          1. re: Pia

            Yes I would enjoy the variety to, if I wasn't cooking for my own party!

    2. Variety-wise, you've certainly covered your bases. I'm assuming you have some time to prepare in advance whatever you can?
      The quantity of food is a bit much, in my opinion. You're proposing 17 lbs. of meat for 22 people. While I agree that too much is better than not enough, that still works out to over 3/4 lb. meat per person, which is a lot, esp. with the other things you're proposing. I'd do about 6-7 lbs. chicken (boneless, right?) and 5 of the beef. The other thing I'd do would be to basically "stage" the food throughout the evening: starting with your hot buffet finger snacks and cocktails, clearing, and progressing after an interval to the kebab entree. You could stuff endive leaves with a cumin rice/nut/dried cranberries and apricot salad or you can also serve chopped Caesar salad in a romaine leaf rolled up like a cigar. When that was cleared away, I'd set out the remaining items and let people do their thing for the rest of the evening. Sounds like a great deal of work, end result a good parrtaay. Enjoy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mamachef

        I would not stage the food unless I could be very sure that everyone knows what is yet to come. Otherwise they may think the apps are all there is, and load up. You may run out, and/or they won't have room for the kebabs and dessert.

        With sufficient crudites and dip, no salad is necessary. The chopped liver seems out of place.

        Personally, I don't think your all-American desserts go with the rest of your Middle-Eastern/Latin menu.

        1. re: greygarious

          Well, that could be solved by just posting a carte so the guests would have an idea what to expect and pace themselves accordingly. The main reason I think saiad needs to be on the menu is because it is a meat/protein-heavy menu and surely there will be vegetarian guests or those who just prefer to eat a little more lightly. I think staging really works out better in the long run, with a great percentage of the food purchased, consumed. And I like a menu that's all over the map; you can represent any culture, keep it fun, be creative. Something for everybody, right?

      2. In my opinion, you have too many repetitive ingredients in your dishes. You're doing chicken kebab and chicken liver pate...you've got cheese in the pastry with olives, cheese in the tartlets, and cheese with fruit.

        I agree with some of the other posters in that I think you have way too much in terms of quantity unless you're hoping for leftovers. If you want to serve the menu as is, fine, but even if you're running the party for 5 hours, once the guests get their fill, they'll back off. People tend to eat the most when food is first presented then they just nibble.

        I have to agree with Greygarious; you're menu is not cohesive, the dishes just don't flow with each other. You have Mexican/Spanish, Mediterranean/Greek/Italian and desserts are out there...No offense but I'm lost.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cherylptw

          I noticed the repetitiveness myself but I'm not quite sure how to get around it. I tend to be meat and cheese centric myself because I'm a low-carber, and those seem to be the most popular items at parties anyway. Suggestions?

          I wasn't exactly going for a cohesive menu, just trying to choose things that were finger foods, relatively easy to prepare in advance and transport, and serve at room temp or reheat on the grill. These are also recipes of mine that my friends know and love, so I didn't think they'd mind a bit of a mish-mash as long as there were plenty of options!

        2. So, are you grilling all those kabobs by yourself? Because if so you are going to spend a good chunk of the night serving people food and not enjoying your own party. I've worked for a caterer and threading and grilling the amount of meat and the kabobs you'll have is quite a lot. Not to be repetitive but consider that a large hamburger is 8 ounces, or half a pound, of meat and that, with some sides, will fill most bellies for a few hours. People will graze more at a party when the food is in sight, but that's what chips and dips are for.

          If this is your party, and I got the impression that it was, you of course should serve what you like but here are some of things we would put together for parties at the caterer's.

          A large hunk of gorgonzola next to a bunch of grapes and crackers
          A plate of toasted slices of baguette with 2-3 spreads (your hummus would work here, also olive spread, artichoke dip, pureed red pepper, pesto and cream cheese, etc)
          Platters layered with different cured meats as well as dishes of olives, roasted pepper strips and interesting pickles

          Your crudites, fruit and stuffed dates will all work well for sure. A salad would be good to but be sure to pick something that can stand sitting out for a while.

          Finally, you can place lit candles underneath elevated oven-safe dishes to help keep them warm. This ads to the ambiance too.

          2 Replies
          1. re: AmandaCA

            We'll be doing the grilling ourselves, yes, but the grills at the venue are truly huge. We have plenty of time beforehand to set up and I can co-opt my husband and brother-in-law to do some grilling if I find it's taking too long. The kebab recipes I'm using are really tasty either hot or at room temp, so I was planning to do all the grilling right away and just let them sit thereafter. You guys are probably right, though, 17lbs is excessive - I'll cut that down a bit.

            The toasted baguette idea is good - in fact, I had considered bruschetta with a couple of different toppings as an alternative to those roasted tomato ricotta tartlets. It would be less prep work for sure, and people could use the toasted bread for pate as well....

            1. re: biondanonima

              I think that would be smart. Bruschetta is easy and a crowd pleaser but ever easier when you leave it to your guests to top their bread themselves. :) Congratulations btw, my husband and I eloped too. :D Three years and going strong!

          2. Just wanted to thank everyone for their input on this - the party was a great success! We had a few no-shows so I think the final headcount was closer to 18. I cut back on the meat as suggested and did 5 lbs of beef and 7 lbs of chicken - the beef was gone INSTANTLY and there were only two or three tiny chicken skewers left as well! Vegetables, fruits, flatbreads and dips were hardly touched in favor of all the savory bites. Half of each cake was left (which I expected) but only a few key lime bars. It was a very good lesson in planning for next time! Thanks again for your help!

            1 Reply