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Menu help for retirement party

I'm planning my dad's retirement party (june 29th) and need a menu for an outdoor party with anywhere between 30-70 people, most of them foodies or gourmet types. Party starts at 5pm but we have another event elsewhere before so no prepping after noon. I'll probably be doing everything by myself (experienced cook) in the days before.

So I need suggestions for mostly make akead.

Access to a full kitchen and 1 maybe 2 BBQs.

Any and all suggestions are welcome.

My ideas so far :
- crostinis (smoked mackerel, mango and crab, smoked salmon)
- Burgers (maybe something with a special meat like bison... need a recipe for this)
- Shrimp skewers

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  1. Just had bison meatballs and they were very dry. As to crostini, smoked mackerel doesn't do much for me, particularly after smoked salmon. It there a theme here?

    2 Replies
    1. re: escondido123

      No theme, just good food. Other suggestions for out of the ordinary meat?

      1. re: elilab

        We prefer bison burgers to beef. The trick is to not overcook them or they will be dry. Why not take a practice run before your event and see how you like them. We cook our 5 oz. patties on medium high barbecue for 6 min. total.

    2. I agree that one smoked fish is enough, and more people like smoked salmon. Perhaps some crostini with goat cheese and figs, or roasted veggies?

      1. Beef and Blue Cheese Crostini

        Shrimp Cocktail Platter

        Strawberry Chicken Salad

        lemon bars, brownies, carrot cake cupcakes

        1. I think these things are best when organized around at least some broad thing or things start to get a bit cacophonous.


          - Pitas with great traditional dips (melitzanosalata, taramosalata, tzatziki, hummus, great olives), spanikopita pockets, stuffed grape leaves

          - Grilled meats and veggies (as simple or as "foodie" as you want) w/ salad

          - Baklava


          - Hand held mini empanadas, grilled shrimp, good quality guac. and chips

          - Tortillas with fixings and chicken in mole (or whatever else)

          - Tres Leches Cake (or spiced chocolate cake or whatever)

          1. An elegant chicken salad- maybe served in endive leaves. Cold poached asparagus wrapped in a rosemary ham. Deviled eggs. French potato salad or a fancy pasta salad. For the grilling you could do sliders. Do you have an ice cream maker? You could make a gourmet ice cream with some heat like Aztec chocolate. Or purchase it.

            1. Italian sliders, combining Italian sausage and beef, topped with smoked provolone and a bit of pesto as a condiment.
              Swedish meatball sliders (ground pork, veal, hamburger), with a topping of ligonberry or cranberry sauce.
              Or do bison, and add some bacon grease for added fat/moistness. With cheddar.

              1. Just my opinion but grilling for would be 70 people would a big pain. You'd have to make an awful lot of sliders and shrimp skewers for that many people.

                I agree with the suggestion of Greek and Mexican where you can even grill the chicken or beef ahead of time.

                5 Replies
                1. re: valerie

                  Grilled corn on the cob -- offer a variety of butters if you want to make it more interesting -- herb, garlic, chipotle. You can cut the cobs into thirds or fourths so your guests can sample different flavors.

                  1. re: valerie

                    Yea, I agree. I read an article in Bon Appetit a few years ago in which a chef was said burgers for a large group was really difficult to pull off, even for a trained professional. Much easier to do chicken, steak or even salmon fillets (Costco has great prices) on the grill. And I agree that cooking ahead is a huge help.

                    1. re: perk

                      How do you see cooking steaks easier than cooking burgers?

                      1. re: elilab

                        I should have been more specific. I was referring to flank steak or skirt steak....something cooked in bigger pieces and cut up. Not individual steaks.

                      2. re: perk

                        One doesn't need to grill the burgers for sliders, they can be roasted in the oven on large sheet pans. I roast my meatballs instead of frying them, same thing. They will brown and have great flavor (if you start with great flavored meat and seasonings).

                    2. The last retirement party we did was a big lowcountry boil...fun, easy and low maintenance

                      we had some starters like crab dip, crudites,pimento cheese, boiled peanuts

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: LaLa

                        I'm curious as to what exactly is a lowcountry boil?

                        1. re: LaLa

                          LaLa, I gotta meet you! Having been a lowcountry boy and soon to retire back there, I can't wait for good old lowcountry food again. My fav I guess is t boiled peanuts. Unfortunately I've grown to be allergic to shrimp, crab, oysters, and all that really good stuff.

                          1. re: billray68

                            Interestingly enough I am from Kentucky orginally...lol...isnt that where you are now?

                            1. re: LaLa

                              Yes, Lexington; but I'm getting ready to move to my old territory, Berkeley County, SC. I was born in Horry Co., SC and raised in Charleston Co. and Berkeley Co and have been all over since. I graduated from The Citadel. I was xferred to Lex from Cape Kennedy, Fl. My mom was from Southport, NC. Her bro was the berthing pilot of the USS NC in Wilmington, NC. Enough bragging...at least I consider it bragging cause i'm proud of it.

                        2. I agree that Mexican, especially, can be very good for this type of event. You can do several meats and seafoods, locally made tortillas, and great toppings for make-your-own tacos. You could do carnitas with lime zest, spicy roasted shrimp, shredded chicken with walnuts and raisins, maybe some flank steak or brisket slices with sweet onion....you get the idea. Homemade green sauce, queso fresco, guacamole, etc. are great sides.

                          1. For dessert, spicy pineapple, tres leches cupcakes, individual flans, cinnamon brownie bites......

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sandylc

                              Unless you hire a designated cook you will be over the grill most of the time with individually cooked items. Would try to pick things made 24 hrs in advance that are served cold or warmed up the day of the event.

                              - 12" x 20" Potato Salad, either homemade or enhanced store bought.

                              - 12" x 20" Pasta Salad, either homemade or enhanced store bought.

                              - 12" x 20" Chicken Caesar salad.

                              - 12" x 20" Fresh Fruit salad.

                              - 16 - 20 count shrimp cocktail (4 p/person, several different fresh sauces)

                              - 12" x 20 " Grilled sausage platter (pre-cooked, warm before serve)

                              - 12" x 20" Grilled flank steak, pre-cooked rare, sliced thin, warm to med & med rare before serve)

                              - Pre-grilled salmon, warmed to serve.

                              - Some type of boil would be good (nice fresh smell in the yard) as long as all ingredients are cleaned in advance so all you have to do is drop them in (in the order they cook).

                              Any of the above or a combination would work with a minimum effort the day of the event. Using foil pans and cheap wire chaffing set ups are inexpensive & make for easy clean up.