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Catering a party for 50

abaddon Jul 6, 2012 12:28 PM

Hey everyone
i'm doing a tapas, finger food party at the end of this month for around 60 people. It's a housewarming, introduction of my 5 month old daughter and 10 year anniversary all rolled into one. I've catered huge parties before. But I'm feeling a little overwhelmed so can use some extra suggestions from others. This party will probably take place from around 1pm to well into the night. And I am in Romania where people will starve themselves before a party. They really pig out. And they really expect a lot from me from my previous parties.
here is my menu thus far:
marinated eggplant
tomato, mozz., basil toothpicks
crostini with red peppers and spinach
3 bean salad
greek salad
bloody mary tomatoes
spicy olive melange
bruschetta (assembled by guests)
fried chickpeas
black bean dip with tortillas
melon and jamon (my mom is coming from spain to help me and is bringing a jamón serrano)
apple and blue cheese endives
potato salad
chicken salad with apples
duck breast with rasperry sauce
beef tenderloin cut thin with 2 sauces
cheese ball
goat cheese with herbs wrapped in grape leaves to spread
smoked salmon "pate" with bagel chips
ham and apple wraps with dip
dates wrapped in bacon
meatballs cooked in marinara sauce
bbq pulled pork with rolls to assemble sandwiches
buffallo wings
shrimp cocktail
vegetable platter with dip

so what do you think? there is no question that i can do it. i've done it before. but are there any suggestions as to how. and also maybe changes in the menu? if anyone could give suggestions as to quantities that would be great. or changes? or new ideas? i would do more seafood but it's hard for this many people and very expensive here.
sorry if there are errors. my son took some of the keys off of my keyboard.

  1. LindaWhit Jul 6, 2012 12:35 PM

    I think I'm flying to Romania at the end of July. ;-)

    Seriously, abaddon, I truly TRULY think you have an amazing repast here! The *only* thing I might add is some coleslaw (thinly sliced red and green cabbage with grated carrots and various seasonings like salt, pepper, with your choice of vinegar or mayo-based dressing, whichever is easier) to go on top of the pulled pork sliders.

    Much congratulations on the birth of your daughter, and an early happy 10th anniversary to you!

    2 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit
      abaddon Jul 6, 2012 12:39 PM

      Hah!! You made my day LindaWhit!!! And coleslaw is on the menu. :) Come on over you are invited! And thanks for the congratulations!

      1. re: abaddon
        LindaWhit Jul 6, 2012 12:49 PM

        Oops! I missed the coleslaw a bit further up in your list.

        "Never mind!" (said in my best Emily Litella voice). ;-)

    2. hotoynoodle Jul 6, 2012 01:16 PM

      congrats on the baby!

      sounds like you have plenty of experience and confidence, but as a restaurant lifer and somebody who entertains at home often, it's just so very many little tings. for a large group, BIG platters of food just make a more impressive visual than lots of little bites scattered all over the place and are also easier to maintain. make back up platters and trade off as each one gets low. out of sight of guests recombine what you have removed from the buffet. use crates or blocks, covered with linen, to vary heights of the platters and trays.

      will you have anybody helping? discarding trash that people leave around and removing empty glasses and plates? even a young niece or nephew can be a big help there.

      i'd do one kind of tomato, not both the caprese and the bloody mary. is there tomato with the bruschetta too?

      although i like all the combos, apples aren't in season, are they? and you have 3 repeats of apple. maybe just a giant cheese platter, and do in-season fruit separately, or as kabobs? i can't speak to romanian fruit availability though! lol.

      will everybody be able to sit to eat? meatballs can be pretty drippy and you do have a beef dish, which would also work room temp and free up some last minute oven space.

      since it's a long party, i think you need to plan amounts as if it were for 2 meals. i'd figure 10-12 apps per person and 8-10 oz protein per person. unless you have lots of folks who don't eat much, like kids or seniors.

      any kind of cookies or cakes as desert?

      good luck!!

      5 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle
        abaddon Jul 7, 2012 04:55 AM

        Thanks hotoynoodle!! You're right. There is a lot of tomato there. I think I'll take out the bloody mary. I want to do the tomato basil as I have a ton of basil outside and would love to use it. Maybe my tomatoes will be ripe by then too. The bruschetta is tomato based as well. I wanted to have refreshing dishes as it's 40 degrees outside.
        I forgot that I have an orchard right outside. i don't think my apples will be ripe by then. but i think my apricots will. so instead of the ham and apple wraps i'll do apricots stuffed with cream cheese and topped with pistachios. that sounds good.
        i've seen watermelon at the market. we were going to hollow one out and fill it with different fruit and use that as a big fruit platter.
        i would love to do a giant cheese platter but the selection of cheeses from this country are rather insipid and to buy the good imported ones would be very expensive. that's why i'm doing a mixed cheese ball wrapped in grape leaves (which i also have outside). as well as the endives with blue cheese. blue cheese is very expensive so everybody can have a little bit in the endive.
        i have a ton of harvested lavender so i thought i would also make some lavender bread along with lavender crackers and lavender cookies. i know it's a lot of lavender plates but it will be interesting and it tastes great with cheese. along with regular bread and crackers, of course.
        my mom and i decided that the easiest dessert to make would be brownies and chocolate chip and raisin oatmeal cookies. along with the lavender cookies. i don't have the freezer space for ice cream for that many people.
        most of the platters are going to be big. i just want to have stuff that can sit all day and not go bad for people to be able to nibble on. like the olives, black bean dip, chickpeas etc.
        i love the idea of using crates to make some of the dished higher. i will definitely do that.
        i told my husband that we should hire a waitress from a restaurant our friends own to come over for the day. she can make sure everything is clean and tidy. one less thing for me to worry about. we're going to use plastic plates and cups. i don't have enough glass to go around and it will be a lot easier this way.
        i may not do the duck breast. i love it and would love to but it might be too expensive. i'd probably need around 4 of them. i have to check how much they cost.
        most people will not be able to sit to eat, unfortunately.
        i already bought the meat for the meatballs as it was 1/2 price. i would do them fried but i don't like how dry they come out. i cook them straight in the marinara sauce and they come out really tender. it's served more as a meatball laying in a small bed of marinara sauce. they're not meant to be drenched in it. so i hope it works out.
        i'm going to cook the tenderloin the day before and have it served cold/room temp. easiest thing. most things are going to be cooked the day ahead and then reheated in the oven (luckily i've got a big one).
        thanks again for the great suggestions.

        1. re: abaddon
          hotoynoodle Jul 7, 2012 09:00 AM

          as much as i love duck, it's spendy for a big group. you already have plenty of protein, so let it go!

          the apricots sound delish! but will you have dozens? even just a half per person will require at least 30.

          same with the bleu cheese. if you can't/won't make enough for everybody to have more than one bite, it's really not worth it.

          the dips and roasts are great for all day grazing. :)

          as for the ground meat... instead of meatballs, maybe a lasagne or moussaka kind of dish? less drippy, more filling for your peeps, and more bang for your host/hostess buck.

          our rule of thumb for events/weddings/parties etc . is 5-6 kinds of apps. make LOTS and just keep replenishing. main dish proteins? honestly 3-4 is more than enough. i know you will have many hours of people eating, but it just simplifies your life to make big batches of several things instead of just some of lots of stuff. i don't know what food costs are in your part of the world, but for example, pork butt/shoulder is super cheap for me, people love it, so i'd make lots.

          streamline, make your life simple. :)

          glad you're hiring help and good luck!

          1. re: hotoynoodle
            abaddon Jul 7, 2012 10:56 AM

            i wrote a reply but it didn't show up. so i'll write it again.
            i love the lasagna idea. maybe i'll do that. it's just hard to eat without sitting cause you need a fork and a knife to cut. but i love lasagna and it freezes great.
            i've got more than enough apricots. hundreds. the tree branches needs support so it won't break. i might have plums then too. they are starting to turn purple. but if there's not enough ripe ones for a big dish i'll just add the to the watermelon.
            i'm doing a huge portion of the pork shoulder, it's really cheap here. some with bbq sauce some without. people can choose.
            what i don't spend on the duck i'll spend on the blue cheese. it's cheaper and i don't need as much.
            i love do to these things. and it's lovely to push myself and see what i can do. it's fun. my mom is coming from spain just to help. and we work great together in the kitchen and i trust her completely. we're gonna have fun doing this. and she's bringing me a spanish ham. people can slice it from it's stand. so delicious.
            thank you so much for your suggestions and tips. you're been a great help.

            1. re: abaddon
              hotoynoodle Jul 7, 2012 11:00 AM

              as long as the pasta is tender, you won't need a knife. or you could forego the pasta entirely, and just layer summer veggies with the meat, cheese and a smattering of sauce.

              i now officially have apricot and jamon envy. ;) which btw, pair very well together.

              have fun!

              1. re: hotoynoodle
                abaddon Jul 7, 2012 11:20 AM

                good idea. :)
                i love a good jamon.

      2. mcel215 Jul 7, 2012 04:57 AM

        Wow, what lucky guests. :)


        1. k
          KSlink Jul 7, 2012 08:41 AM

          Glad you'll be hiring some help, it's necessary for a group that large. You don't want to be a constant server at your own party! Is everything to be served at once or will you stagger the dishes throughout the day?

          Fantastic menu, BTW!!!

          1. w
            wyogal Jul 7, 2012 08:47 AM

            That's a lot of variety. I would focus one fewer items, in larger quantities.
            When I was in college, I took a music composition class. The instructor said to avoid the "Mack Truck Theory," the theory that one needs to include every idea they've ever had into their composition in case they go out and get hit by a Mack truck while crossing the street.
            Sometimes, less is more.
            But, it sounds like a grand time, have fun!

            1 Reply
            1. re: wyogal
              abaddon Jul 7, 2012 10:48 AM

              i know. but i like to do large quantities and a lot of variety. people in this country pig out. and they have all been at my parties before so usually don't eat before coming cause they know there will be lots of different stuff and a lot of it. and everything on the menu is completely different for the people here. they are used to eating only romanian food. so i have to make some extra stuff just in case someone doesn't like something. i remember i made barbecue ribs once and an old man said that pork and sweet doesn't go together. i had a good laugh at that.

            2. PHREDDY Jul 7, 2012 09:24 AM

              On the money !!! you have hit all of the favorites and have each item that can be eaten without sitting down....insofar as quanity...the average person at these type of gatherings consume about 8 to 12 ounces of food, plus 1 1/2 pounds of beverage...(beverage is about 32 to 48 ounces) ...so if for fifty persons at least 30 to 40 pounds of food overall plus the liquids....if someone consumes 48 ounces of alcohol...lookout!!! I hope you do not serve anything harder than a wine cooler or some beer, after all it is a childs "party"...I will give you my Fedex account # and you can send me what is leftover via overnight.......

              1 Reply
              1. re: PHREDDY
                abaddon Jul 7, 2012 10:59 AM

                thanks! we're only serving beer and wine. someone wants something harder they can bring it themselves. i wanted to do some nice summer cocktails served in pitchers. they would be light on the alcohol and refreshing. but they don't go much for cocktails here. i might do a big trash can size container of sangria. that always goes really well. thanks for the numbers of food needed. that is useful. that's a lot of food. i think we can do it.
                and yeah, i'll send you the leftovers. but it might be cheaper for you to come fly over and eat it fresh.

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