Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Aug 9, 2012 03:28 PM

Cooking for 30 Help!

Hi everyone,

I have been enlisted to "cater" a film set for my friend and have some question re: servings.
Below are what I am planning to make, but I was curious about how much to batch up the recipes to serve 30 people, keeping in mind that I am preparing a variety of dishes for people to sample, so one standard "serving" as may be described in a recipe, probably does not apply here as people will have smaller portions of more dishes. So, lets say the recipe estimates 10 servings (just to be simple), do I make 1 recipe? 2 recipes? 3 recipes?
Your thoughts would be great.

Baked Mac and cheese
Corn, avocado salad
Apple, Cabbage Slaw
Sweet Potato Salad
Baked Beans
Pulled BBQ Chicken Sliders

Peach Cobbler/Crisp
Southern Banana Pudding
Melon Salad with Mint

Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Is this for during filming? That is a very heavy menu for during filming- not too many light or non-carb options. Normally I would say make more of the lighter items and less of the heavy ones but I don't know what kind of cast and crew you're feeding. My ex is in film production and craft services generally focused on light/ healthy/non-carb meal options so that's what I'm used to. (If anyone is low or no carb or just plain vain...carbs=bloat..the slaw and melon will be all they will be able to eat.)

    1. lol, are you cooking for actual southerners, or just having a theme?

      is this the type of thing that will be out on a table all day, or will there be a meal break when everything is served? lots of guys, or women, who generally have smaller appetites? indoors, outdoors? will people be helping themselves to plates? if it is self-serve, err on the cautious side of making "more" of each thing, because people always take more than they actually eat from buffet lines.

      to my eye, you've got 5 "sides" and just one "main", so i'd plan on at least 6 oz. of meat per person --roughly 10 or 11 pounds. mac and cheese is always a big hit, so i'd make plenty of that, figuring 4-5 oz. of pasta per person, so about 9 or so pounds of pasta.

      the other sides i'd make about 10 servings of and let that be that. and honestly? i'd cut this down to just 3 sides, keeping the mac, the corn salad and the slaw. (although cabbage and apple are very autumnal to me, so i might opt for something lighter like cabbage and julienned carrots and red peppers) if folks are just getting a quick meal break, they're not going to be grazing. they need a meal -- and one that won't make them want a nap from a carb crash in 2 hours.

      as for dessert... what?! no chocolate? ;) you've got lots of savory food, so no need to make mountains of dessert. i'd make 15 servings each of the crisp and the pudding. enough melon for each person to have a few cubes.

      1. Thanks for your input. I am not cooking for southerners, just trying to stick to a theme.
        The reason why its so carb heavy is that I was told to keep the costs as low as possible.. so I was trying to come up with a menu that made sense thematically, that used predominently low-cost ingredients (that's why there isn't much meat, and all of the veg I use are mainly the less expensive ones).
        This is for the hour long filming break at 3 PM. I am not really worried about people not eating carbs for vanity purposes, the cast is small and they're not the type to whine about carbs.
        The mac and cheese could be more of a main course (for veg)
        Maybe if I make the corn/avocado salad a lettuce based salad, that would help?
        And maybe if the sliders put it over the edge on the carbs, then I could switch this to like drum sticks... any other ideas on really inexpensive Southern-style ways to serve a meat option? (doesn't need to be chicken.. but probably best to be either chicken or beef- no pork just in case we have people who don't eat it for religious reasons).

        10 Replies
        1. re: hungryabbey

          Just a kind word on serving pork or beef, it's OK to serve it. Those who don't want to eat it can simply skip it. There's nothing wrong with serving food that not every single person will eat.

          1. re: 1POINT21GW

            Fair enough. I guess just because my budget only allows for one meat option, I would be happy if it were as agreeable as possible.

            1. re: hungryabbey

              Completely understandable.

              Have you talked the menu over with your employer to see what they want?

              1. re: 1POINT21GW

                Yes- they're not my employers, just my friends. I am doing this to help them out. The instructions were: as cheap as possible, and enough energy to get some of the crew through the rest of the day who have been lifting heavy equipment etc. lol
                They aren't picky, they are happy to have any help they can get because it will save them from paying for external catering, which would likely just be like sandwiches and cookie platters anyways.

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  Gotcha. Sorry, I thought they were paying you for this.

                  Have you ever done anything like this on this scale or larger before? How much help will you have during the prep, cooking, transportation, and/or service stage?

                  1. re: 1POINT21GW

                    I have done parties (at my own place) around this size..
                    I think I will probably do all the cooking myself, but hopefully will have some help (one other person) for transport and service.

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      OK. As long as you're experienced with this sort of thing because that amount of food can be a lot for one person to prep, cook, and safely hold until service.

                      It sounds like it will be a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy yourself.

                      1. re: 1POINT21GW

                        We do have a oven/stove on the site, so I will be prepping what I can ahead of time, refrigerating it, and then reheating as needed etc.

          2. re: hungryabbey

            what's your budget?

            i can get pork butt or pork shoulder super cheap and it's an easier meat to cook, reheat and pull, vs. chicken. check your grocer. you can also skip the rolls entirely and just make pulled pork. $$$ savings.

            mac and cheese is cheap.

            some kind of summery slaw can also be made on the cheap and making it a vinegary kind of slaw will make it a good foil for the bbq meat.

            the carb issue is not about vanity. it's about insulin/energy crashes. you don't need to stuff these people. make the pulled meat, a slaw and the corn salad. make lots so it looks really bountiful and friendly. skimpy platters for big groups look miserly, especially for just a short meal break.

            for dessert, i'd just make the cobbler and the melon.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              This is great help. I was thinking the same things. Thanks!

          3. I understand your feeling skittish of serving just one meat option & it being pork. You could also offer a large pot of chili, economical, easy & not carb heavy.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

              Mmm-chilli with cornbread (and honey) can be quite a hit with groups. Shredded cheese, chopped onion, sour cream, and maybe some tortilla chips for toppings. Also avoids the pork issue for people, although it brings up the issue of spiciness.

              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                thats a good idea. I ran it by the crew and they are all for the pork option, so I will probably do that. It's super easy to pull off too, so that's great.

              2. Regarding dessert, what about doing something like cookies or brownies? Or even lemon squares. It's a little neater to eat than a cobbler/crisp, simple for people to pickup, and super easy to make large batches.
                We also often had "dump cakes" (messier again...) at many southern gatherings. Always a hit and quite easy to do.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ama658

                  Hm, I like the idea of lemon squares too.. That's a possibility.. though what i like about cobbler/crisp is that its super easy for me to batch up in a large tin foil pan. I will see what the crew prefers.