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What is the most elaborate meal you ever cooked?

I once made a Thanksgiving meal with 11 courses. 8 guests.

Started with an amuse.

Followed by pick grapefruit with white cherry.

Oyster Rockefeller variant with artichoke hearts in place of oyster shell.



White shallot soup

Salmon en croutte

Turkey, walnut stuffing, sweet potato, asparagas

Cheese course

Hot dessert with coffee

Cold dessert.

I paired wines with each course, and the whole thing took 8 hours for me and my guests. It was wonderful. I have never attempted anything so grand ever again. I would do so in a heart beat if the opportunity presented. Anyone else strive this way, or am I a little weird in my aspirations?

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  1. The single most elaborate dish ever is Julia's Veal Prince Orloff. Simply crazy. Can't remember the other components of the meal, but since I was in that mindset, I imagine they were nuts, as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      That was mine, too, Pika. Plus this inordinately complicated gateau au chocolat, with at least three different kinds of layers (meringue, ganache, and more). It was only for one guy, and I was completely covered in cocoa when he got there.

    2. I'm not sure I recall any specific details but it's bound to have one of those very rare occasions when we've made three courses, without recourse to buying one of them.

      Almost certainly a Christmas lunch. One sticks in my mind from around 20 years ago. We started with soup - vegetable, I think. Followed by turkey. And a steamed Christmas Pudding, with brandy sauce, for dessert.

      Found it challenging, culinary-wise, and, certainly for a big family gathering we've not repeated it - now buying the Pudding and, usually the starter as well, if it's not been something that can be prepared easily.

      Much as we love to cook and to eat, we don't try and prepare complicated food these days - no fancy sauces, no difficult last minute touches - and very much leave that sort of meal to when we eat in restaurants. Professional chefs, even at bistro level, are so much better cooks than I am.

      1. Ill be doing 10 courses for 7 on christmas eve, but I have it pretty well planned out so it should run smoothly. Soup course/foie gras terrine/duck confit etc are all able to be made the day before.

        In terms of the most elaborate meal Ive ever cooked period it was for work during f1 weekend this year in austin. 14 courses for 70 people. Thats a lot of plates to put out even with a team ><

        1 Reply
        1. re: twyst

          Yeah, it requires a lot of advance planning. I learned a lot, and it took a lot of ruthless concentration. Let us know how it goes. You sound as if you have had some professional experience.

        2. While not elaborate, my most ambitious meal happens on an island in the Indian River. It is known as Dale's Diner.
          I cook breakfast for who ever shows on Memorial Day Sunday morning out of the cockpit of my boat on a two burner propane cooktop.

          eggs to order

          omelets to order with sweet pepper, hot pepper, onions,ham, bacon, shredded pork, cheese, and anything else I may have on hand

          Sausage gravy

          Hash browns


          French toast



          Prep takes about 3 hours that morning and my record is over 50 people fed in about an hour and a half. Using two woks and a large cast iron skillet.

          Everybody brings their own beverage of choice and keep me happy with strong black coffee.

          1 Reply
          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

            Sounds like a hoot. What's the back story to your annual event?

          2. New Year Even 1999 (Y2K fears in full swing, LOL) for 16. I spent weeks preparing everything from scratch. One guest did all the hunting for the game items. We served cocktails during the apps, had wines to match each dinner course and served champagne at midnight and with desserts.

            duck wrapped in bacon and grilled
            local bay scallops, simply seared
            spiced nuts
            assorted brined olives

            Dinner: served over a 4-5 hour time period

            Butternut squash bisque

            venison steaks with a spiced cherry glaze and
            wild rice

            rabbit stew

            endive, arugula and fennel salad

            local pork loin roast stuffed with spinach, feta and dried cranberries

            meyer lemon granita

            assorted cheeses


            Dessert: served buffet style after midnight.

            assorted butter cookie with ginger ice cream
            petit fours
            mini fruit tarts
            molten carmel cake
            chocolate covered strawberries

            It was amazing and everyone spent the night so no worries about designated drivers!

            The next morning I had huge breakfast buffet, again all made from scratch. It included coffee cakes, sweet rolls, eggs benedict, bagels (shipped in, I drew the line at making those!), smoked salmon, cream cheese, quiches. I have forgotten the rest.

            For those that stayed for the day I brought out a big pot of french onion soup around 4:00. I put out mugs, basket of toasted french bread and grated gruyere and let people help themselves.

            I don't think I have ever cooked that much since!

            1 Reply