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Need appetizer ideas for 80 people in a venue without kitchen facilities! [in Singapore]

We're having a casual wedding reception for about 60 to 80 friends in a venue that has no kitchen and does not permit us to have a mobile kitchen set up. I'm planning on self catering a drinks and appetizers dinner thing with help from friends and hired staff.

I really need help thinking up of some filling, meaty appetizers which can be served safely at room temperature. The venue is a 10 minute (20 in bad traffic) drive from my house and the plan is to have someone pull food straight from the oven into insulated boxes, drive over and we start passing the hot food around. I think I've read too much FDA stuff about food safety because right now, the only things which I think are safe for serving are chips, nuts, crackers and those little vacuum sealed cheese wedges they give you on the airplane.

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  1. Many thresholds to consider in your scenario.
    Is your preparation site sufficient for the preparation? Do you have enough refrigeration to shop for and store all the finished product? After all you are the honored guests, can you turn everything over to someone else to handle it? Do you have adequate transportation to deliver the food in hot or cold boxes?

    I am by no means a event planer, you have 80 persons and you need to figure 6 to 7 pieces per adult guest. So you might need to prepare about 500 portions.I have done something similar and on both occasions hired a professional company. (Pre-prom party for parents and families)

    Two suggestions for hot & cold:
    hot ....Chicken Satay on skewers, grilled vegetables served on garlic toasted baguette rounds, sliced chimi churri marinated flank steak tid bits, small round roasted red potatoes partially hollowed out and filled with a dollop of a sour cream/ yogurt dill sauce.
    cold...Deviled Eggs, Asparagus wrapped with Prosciutto,
    roasted spicy chicken lollipop winglets with a sweet mango pineapple salsa for dipping.

    There are some you might want to consider.

    1. You might want too rent a small box truck so you can transport everything at once, and all you have to do is bring everything from the parking lot as need to be served, and then return the empties to the truck. you will of course need some dedicated helpers.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PHREDDY

        A typical household oven/stove isn't going to produce enough product to warrant the use of a box truck. In my opinion of course.

        1. re: PHREDDY

          phreddy, seems to me to be unlikely that the oven will accomodate all that food at once.
          probably there will need to be "shifts" at the oven and who knows if the oven can hold the temps required with all that opening and closing of the doors?

          basically, this is a job for a commercial oven that is going to be attempted with a residential oven.

        2. What about chafing dishes and crock pots? You can keep things warm in those, especially a meatball of some type. Gougeres are good warm or at room temp. A hearty quinoa or tabouli salad is good at room temp as well.

          3 Replies
          1. re: centralpadiner

            Excellent point and my thoughts exactly. Regardless of the cooking situation at the location if you can set up chafing dishes you are made in the shade my friend.

            Anything you cook at home and keep insulated for a 20 minute drive, placed in a pre-heated (key phrase there, pre-heated, make sure someone is at the location to have that water nice and hot upon your arrival with the food) and you can have any item(s) your heart desires without an concern.

            That's the way to go! Good Luck!!

            1. re: jrvedivici

              since there are no kitchen facilities allowed at the site, exactly how will that be done?

              1. re: westsidegal

                What kitchen facilities do you need to set up chafing dishes? All you need is access to water, preferably hot, but that's it. I'm not sure what you are asking.

          2. Not hot, but cherry tomato/basil/bocconcini skewers are always popular

            1. Would you be allowed to have a food truck in the parking lot?
              Will you have tables and outlets available?
              How will you deal with trash?

              I think that I would look seriously at some professional helpers (is there such a thing as "half catered"?) or push the venue harder for some accommodations.
              I'd also verify that they won't penalize you somehow for trying to bring in all of that stuff yourself.

              1. It's a whole lot easier to keep stuff cold than warm when you don't have a kitchen... you can use a wading pool for an ice table, or rent a more sophisticated version. If you want warm, are you allowed to bring in crockpots for the ubiquitious meatballs, chicken wings etc.

                But seriously, is this something you really want to do yourselves? You're only going to get one wedding day (hopefully) and you should be able to enjoy it too... 'Big day' events are really better off with catered food unless you're going to go so casual that you have a potluck (spreading the workload between a bunch of people instead of trying to do it all yourself) - not a wedding, but I got baptised on my 21st birthday, doubling the hoopla. My parents did everything for 60 people and they were so busy doing all the last-minute catering stuff they didn't even come to the church (and knowing how frazzled they were really lowered my enjoyment of my 'special day').

                1 Reply
                1. Why don't you hire someone who does this every day, like a caterer, or even your favorite restaurant?

                  Or, don't serve hot foods. Just have cold appetizers and cake. You're not required to provide a hot meal at a wedding.

                  1. This can be done but some more information (as indicated above) is helpful to give some ideas - and there are other threads that have talked about this problem as well (weddings, graduations, family reunions, etc). So help us help you.

                    Like other's have indicated - does it need to be hot (your time line seems like you want hot but you say "room temp" which opens up a lot of options). How long is the reception? Is there a type of food you like/want?

                    The key sounds like it will be things that can be fully prepared and done ahead of time - that can just be reheated if necessary - or served chilled initially but are still good as they warm up to room temp . . . . if that's correct . . . .

                    1. Consider contacting your local grocery or supermarkets about their catering options- considering the purchase/storage/prep/ delivery it could work both with your budget and also to save your sanity.
                      Your family should be focused on enjoying the day with you, not shuffling appetizers back and forth....

                      I would focus on cold or room temp items- flatbread pizzas can be made in a large size and just cut into dainty squares for plating, frittatas made in a muffin tin are good room temp, and a cold soup like gazpacho can be served from a chilled thermos to keep cold until ready.

                      1. Six foot subs, chips & dip, and coolers for cold beverages. There. Done.

                        Oops, forgot the wedding cake. That, too. Simple. Complete.

                        1. Ok, I can't figure out this reply thing. Sheesh.

                          1. So many great suggestions here, We all hope you give us all some feedback so we cannot only wish you well, but perhaps be an in tangent part of your joyous day.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: PHREDDY

                              Darn, seems like my last reply got eaten up somewhere. Anyway.

                              I'm absolutely loving the replies here. Its generally considered weird not to have a really expensive wedding at a hotel here so most of my quotes, even from caterers, have been upwards of 75 a head but those are not the kind of event I want, I want something that is warm, authentic and with no pressure on anyone to help us "recoup costs" as seems to be the culture here. I'll spare you guys the rant.

                              But since my 'vision' mostly involves gin, chocolate and flowers in glass bottles, this is what I've sort of come up with:

                              Gin cocktails instead of wine to help keep the budget trim.

                              I'll bake chocolate baked goods a week ahead and thaw to serve.

                              Local supermarket sells deli roasted chicken, I'll send someone to charm them into Letting us preorder and to cut then up for us.

                              Also, a nachos bar with a crock pot of cheese sauce, fake bacon bits (some of my guests have halal dietary requirements) and plant based toppings that won't make anyone sick. And a pasta salad with a non-dairy dressing.

                              I'm wondrring about the pizza suggestions, can I really let pizza sit in hot, summer weather without them going bad quickly since there's cheese and perishable stuff on it? OTOH, I could always just brush flat bread a with oil and spices and grill those. Bet those can't kill anyone.

                              (Can anyone guess what my special cooking fear is now? :p )

                              1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                The food isn't going to be sitting out all day, it's going to be eaten! Don't worry about food out for less than 4 hours, or use ice to keep the cold things cold, and limit the number of hot things so they run out first.

                                1. re: babette feasts

                                  That's reassuring. Thanks. :D I would be pretty sad to not have pizza, it's a huge favorite food around the house.

                                  1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                    arrange with your favorite pizza parlor to deliver the pizza to the site at the correct time.
                                    they are most likely to have the oven power and the experience to get it there before it becomes a congealed mess.

                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                      I agree, outsource the pizzas!
                                      You could always order some with just tomato sauce or pesto instead and veggie toppings

                                2. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                  You might want to have an alternative to gin cocktails. Gin is an acquired taste, IMO, and not everyone might like it.

                              2. I don't think you will have a problem doing things like fried chicken wings (or in a sauce), meatballs, grilled eggplant slices rolled up with a lemon ricotta, or arancini stuffed with sausage, beef, spinach or other filling before frying (don't forget the marinara) and set up in chafers. Consider roasting a couple of whole beef or pork tenderloins or loins or ham and have them set up with mini rolls and several mustards, mayos, caramelized or pickled onions etc.

                                Make a tray of finger sandwiches to include chicken or fresh roasted turkey salad with grapes & toasted walnuts or pimento cheese; use flavored tortillas or flatbreads to layer roast beef, spinach & horseradish sauce or grill/roast mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini/yellow squash, etc. with a pesto like watercress or similar or a roasted carrot & raisin chutney then roll up and slice into pinwheels. These sandwiches are easy to make and keep at room temp (yes, even the chicken/turkey salad) for the amount of time you need without risk of spoiling and easy to re-fill trays. Accompany the sandwiches with a display of different pickled veggies like whole green or yellow wax beans, radishes, beets, baby carrots, etc. served in interesting containers.

                                Other things you might consider could be a couple of terrine molds (browse online for recipes) that could be set out on lettuce lined trays with a knife, assorted crackers & toasted crostini, mustard and cornichons. A few bowls of different salads like some type of marinated veggie pasta, roasted sweet potato& apple or quinoa or couscous with feta, roasted corn & tomatoes, etc. would be well received. Seriously, it may be more convenient to set up small buffet stations instead of passing around the food. The amount of bites per person depend on the length of time you anticipate the reception to be.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Cherylptw

                                  I think fried chicken wings, pizzas and sandwiches would be more my style in a party.

                                  We're thinking that since there will be tables for people to sit at, we'll place bowls and platters of food in the middle of each table and people can help themselves there. A good idea for preventing the jamming up of a buffet line.

                                  I saw a really great idea on Pinterest, a hot dog bar! Which sounds good too, since hotdog and nacho toppings are rather the same who doesn't love both?

                                  1. re: Cherylptw

                                    making this stuff ahead of time will require a tremendous amount of refrigerator space to keep it cold until serving.

                                    keep in mind that refrigeration tends to make the starch in bread set up.

                                  2. You are going to have to make a lot of compromises with the scenario you outlined.

                                    Who will be running back and forth from your house to pick up the warm food? Pass them around? Let's say the average round trip journey is 30 minutes, so two trips in an hour. The poor person will be spending at least 40 minutes out of that hour driving and missing out on the party.

                                    Do you have an oven big enough to heat up/cook large quantities, requiring minimal trips. If you need to make multiple trips, someone should stay behind at the house to watch the oven, because it's too risky to leave hot ovens unattended, especially during the chaos of a wedding party.

                                    Do you really want to cook for 80 people? People who don't have catering experience almost always either overestimate or underestimate the amount of food required. And it's not necessarily that much cheaper to cook everything yourself. You'd be surprised, especially when you don't have a good idea of how much food per person you need to provide.

                                    Even if you cook everything in advance, where will you store the food in the meantime? Is your fridge large enough to hold several large pans of pasta salads? Do you have the time to cook, what with the wedding itself?

                                    Is there a reason you need to be at this specific venue with no kitchen and won't allow you to have a mobile kitchen set up? Can you find a different venue, which will make things much easier for you? Even if you bring your own chafing dishes/crockpots, do you even have any to begin with? Can you borrow any from friends? I somehow doubt it if simply because most people don't own chafing dishes or even crockpots.

                                    I agree catering can be expensive, but short of potluck I don't think it's a good idea to want to cook the food for your own reception. If it was a smaller crowd with no more than 25 people, then it's feasible, but 60 to 80 is quite a lot of people. And it's hampered by the no-cook policy at your venue.

                                    I saw your suggestions in a thread below and here's my comments:

                                    Roast chicken from delis. How many do you need/want? How many chickens will serve up to 80 people? Will the deli even cut up the chicken for you? Don't assume they will especially if it's a supermarket selling rotisserie chicken. What will you serve chicken with? Rolls? Mayonnaise for those who want to make a sandwich? Will you provide utensils and plates?

                                    Nacho crock pot: 80 people = how many crockpots? Hmm... plus it looks like a mess. Are people dressing up for this affair? Melted cheese dribbling all over tables and people's clothes. I can't tell you how to make melted cheese for the crockpot but I bet when you add up the cost of the raw ingredients plus the toppings for 80 people you'd be surprised.

                                    Probably the cheapest and easiest way to provide food is to get large spreads of dips, salads, potato/pasta salads, cheese bits, fruit, small sandwiches and sliced baguettes. Supermarkets can provide these platters quite reasonably priced. Costco will have appetizer bits that you can serve. Some places specialize in selling large pans of lasagna and even pot pies, although the heating up part is a problem for you.

                                    The simple fact of the matter is that if you're on a very short budget you cannot provide "quality" food for 80 people. The only one possible exception I can think of is to have a strictly dessert affair, with the cake and possible some side desserts that you can bake ahead of time. But if you really want to feed a decent amount of people the equivalent of a full meal spread over a few hours, you're looking at very basic and simple food. Hence the supermarket platters and pizza isn't a bad idea depending on how casual your friends are and what you expect from the affair.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Roland Parker

                                      Ok, just because I'm trying not to get into a rant here. I have searched every. single. option. possible. to cater a proper wedding on a budget. And I have a 5 grand budget. Which I understand, in other parts of the world, gets you a nice wedding. Here? Wedding planners laugh their butts off and congratulate you on a good joke.

                                      Oh and I also have to not horrify my partner who, though loving, is rather on the conservative side. He's got the reception he wants in the Chinese banquet for family so this is supposed to be a reception I want in a casual, fun, in no way meant for a show thing. Yes, there are people who have agreed to help me with it and one of them is my friend, whom I helped to cook for her own 80 pax barbeque celebration recently as well. Pulled that off, no one was poisoned, a good time was had by all.

                                      So believe me, I have thought this one through, I have done the logistics and planning and have lined up at least two 'practise runs' by offering to cook for a couple of large family events so I can get a feel of things. What I AM worried about here is not killing anyone with food poisoning, not what the wedding will look like.

                                      1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                        so he has his event. do yours with whatever you want, and don't overcomplicate it. if people are warned not to expect a meal, at a wedding? most are happy with drinks and enough food of some sort (even if it's chex mix) to keep them from getting sick. if you want a meal, it sounds like ordering a bunch of wings and/or pizzas and/or giant sub sandwiches, maybe with potato chips and/or basic raw cut veg is your scene. do it your way - sounds like your partner got his! worry less. it's your day. who cares if it's subway? it's about you.

                                        1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                          Is it 5K just for this event or for your entire wedding, including the Chinese banquet?

                                          I didn't want to sound like a downer but I have watched people try to pull off a cheaper event by trying to do too much of the cooking and prep themselves, and that was what you implied in your original post. They always ended up spending far more than anticipated, and it turned out to be quite stressful being the host and the cook at the same time.

                                          If you just want a casual gathering with very basic, casual but popular food, then go for it. Pizza sounds great. I looked up the catering menu for an upscale supermarket I'm familiar with and which is well known for its deli counter, and they offer catered platters of deli meats, rolls, condiments, salads and the usual for only 7.99 a head. There should be something similar available where you live. (Just don't tell them it's for a wedding! I can't confirm this but I've heard stories that caterers and party supply people automatically add on a "wedding premium" because they know they can get away with it).

                                          I'll share a personal observation and say that if you're ordering buffet style food for a large gathering, there's no need to order for the exact number of expected guests. Slightly under ordering usually works out perfectly, so for 80 guests you can order for 70 and easily get away with it.

                                          Another possible solution to keep costs under wraps is to tell all your guests that you're supplying the food but it's BYOB due to costs. You can get away with it if everyone knows it's a very casual affair with pizzas and deli sandwiches. I imagine most won't mind.

                                          Edit: Never mind. I just saw your post that you're in Singapore! I now have no idea how feasible any of my suggestions are.

                                        2. re: Roland Parker

                                          agree with everything roland parker said, AND remember to include the cost of renting those very expensive chafing dishes, cutlery, cups, etc.

                                        3. Hey Alex! Congratulations!

                                          How about shrimp on ice? Not room temp, but you could keep it cold for long enough, I think. Not sure how affordable it would be, though. http://www.finedinings.com/fresh_shri...

                                          Or maybe Mediterranean style? Olives and hummus and falafel and those little triangle cheese pies and feta and good pita. A spread of these kinds of things? http://www.shishongrand.com/ (click on catering, then appetizers to see the types of dishes I'm thinking would do well at room temp).

                                          I was on a similar budget for my wedding as you are and it's a challenge indeed. I know you said you've investigated every single option for catering... Have you looked at delivery options? For instance, do you have Famous Dave's near you? (I can't tell from your profile where you live.) They will deliver and set up (in foil trays with sterno lights and plastic tongs etc.) for $25. That's what it was last time I checked with them, anyway. They offer BBQ chicken (among other things) for catering, which sounds like what you're looking for. Kinda messy, but hey, it's your party and that's what the little packets of wipes are for! I think this would totally be within your budget, though I don't know exactly how much of the $5K you have allocated towards food.

                                          Maybe you could hire a couple of high school kids from the neighborhood to meet the delivery people(or to help even if you don't opt for delivery) and do the set up so you wouldn't have to worry about it? I know you think you can do it all yourself (and I have no doubt that you're very capable) but your wedding day is like no other you've experienced. I would suggest you plan to do as little as possible on the day of.

                                          Even if you and your partner don't get all freaky emotional, plenty of the people around you will. Plus, you'll be this crazy focus of attention like you've never experienced in your life. And you'll have all these friends --some maybe you haven't seen in years, some (of your partners) that you've never met-- who have traveled to your event that you'll realize you prefer to spend time with rather than setting up cheese trays. And, finally, there will be a constant crush of people --even strangers if you're out in public at all-- wanting to talk to you and congratulate you.

                                          Also, I would really investigate the grocery store catering (read: delivery) option. I once had a local high end grocery store "cater" an event for me. They did the delivery for $25, also, but unlike Famous Dave's, I had to do the set up myself. (This is where that hired high school kid comes in handy.) It was a brunch-y type affair and they brought quiche and fruit salad. The quiche were $16 a piece and served 6 (according to them), but really more than that, like 8. (Also bagels, coffee and breakfast pastries--probably wouldn't work for you). You could easily do that plus a big green salad for your event.

                                          Also, I'm sure you have, but are there any restaurants you haven't approached that might deliver and that are used to catering large family events and where the norm is serving family style? Like Indian or old-style Italian? I wish these guys had their catering menu online, but I've seen them do an awesome take-away business where people are coming in for large foil trays for graduations etc. http://www.thekabobs.com/catteringser...

                                          Sometimes these kinds of places will have a very modest delivery fee, like $25, then you can have your hired high school kids set up. I know Buca has a $25 delivery fee, but I think when I looked into it for some occasion, the food was shockingly INaffordably priced, so I wouldn't direct you there, alas, even though there might be one near you.

                                          Oh, and in your discussions with vendors, try to mention the word "wedding" as infrequently as possible. I swear prices double, triple, quadruple when vendors discover that your "party" is a wedding.

                                          I hope at least some of this help. Have fun!


                                          17 Replies
                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            I really don't think any of the restaurants you've mentioned would be near me because I'm in Asia. But we are lucky enough to have some frozen food wholesalers sprout up as well as an awesome halal wholesale butcher I just found today who will roast the meats you buy from them for a fee.

                                            Shrimp on ice sounds lovely. We do a thing at our house every Christmas with the entire extended family where we pile our biggest roasting tray full of cooked, cold seafood and just let everyone go at it. If I didn't have a budget and incredibly hot weather, I'd do that for my wedding.

                                            1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                              HAHAHA! Oh my! I think they'd charge you more than $25 for delivery anywhere OFF the north American continent!

                                              I was going to suggest a booya, to you, actually. But now that I understand you are in Asia I'm guessing the odds of you having access to a booya kettle would be pretty remote!

                                              So do you think you'll be able to go with one of these halal butchers then? That sounds great!

                                              I still strongly suggest that you tap a couple of teenagers as helpers on the day of your wedding.


                                              1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                                Can I just say, OP, that I need to apologize. I assume that most CH posters are in North America, and I didn't see a hint from you that
                                                a small box truck
                                                or a supermarket deli with chilled potato salad
                                                or high school kids from the neighborhood
                                                were all potentially unreasonable suggestions due to your location.

                                                If you're getting the Big Chinese Banquet for the family IN ASIA, I'm not sure what food you could begin to offer that would not suffer in comparison.

                                                Could you hire street food vendors for 2 hours?
                                                Is pot luck an option?

                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                  Fun! Wouldn't that be a dream, having a street food vendor on site for a couple of hours!

                                                  It always, always helps to know where someone is posting from! Now I understand what Alex means by extreme heat, too!


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    I would love-- in Beijing or NoVA/DC-- to have a party featuring the 2 dozen street food vendors who were at my subway station every morning and evening.

                                                    I'd give my guests "fake money" to shop them, and allow the vendors to trade that for cash at the end, with a guaranteed minimum.

                                                    Or, right this very minute, I'd be extraordinarily pleased with any of the offerings highlighted here:

                                                    Kris now in DC/NoVA

                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                      I guess the equivalent right now in the U.S. would be to hire a food truck to show up at your party.


                                                  2. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                    I live in Singapore. Which I am going to secretly christian hell on earth for weddings from now on. Pot luck, is most definitely not an option with a majority Chinese guest list and my partner would baulk. I've gone quite the round trying to have a different event within budget. Those 'hipster cafes' - got turned down. Tried to suggest having it in our new flat with my favorite Malay food stall catering (they make a to-die for beef curry) - my partner objected. The neighborhood bar looked really confused when I asked them. I can't remember how many businesses told me "Uh, no, we've never done that and we don't know how to". It's really quite discouraging.

                                                    Actually, I wouldn't mind just calling in one of those Briyani (lamb curry and spiced rice) places to cater giant pots of briyani for my wedding because who doesn't like a good curry but I think there may be objections from my partner. I've eaten TERRIBLE food at a lot of Chinese wedding dinners but have yet to attend a Malay wedding where the briyani sucked. That's a fun thought, though...

                                                    1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                                      I have to say, I'm honestly kind of confused by the parameters of what you think will work for you because you keep saying your partner is shooting everything down. If your partner objects to beef curry or briyani, how in the world is he going to approve of pizza, nachos or a hot dog bar?


                                                      1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                                        I lived in Singapore for two years, so I have an idea of some of what's available ( we didn't go out much, which is why I say some).

                                                        I really dislike that your partner objected to your favourite Malay food stall. I would so go for that and, in fact, was going to be one of my suggestions.

                                                        If you like Indian food, what about hiring an Indian joint like Brinda's to cater? We've really liked their food, including their buffet offerings. I'm under the impression they cater. You could check out their website.

                                                        I wish you luck.

                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      some places will do free delivery for catering.

                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        fwiw, i tried the "hire high school kids" approach once.
                                                        it was a disaster because the kids had no experience and someone needed to be on top of them every minute to tell them what needed to be done next.
                                                        other that hauling ice buckets around, they were worse than useless. they had great work ethic, and meant well, but they had NO KNOWLEDGE of how such an event must be organized.
                                                        unless you have an expeienced person who will spend the ENTIRE TIME supervising them, this is a TERRIBLE idea.

                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                          I was thinking she could just pay the high school kids to accept delivery of the food and put it out on the table so she wouldn't have to on the day of. I wasn't thinking they'd stay around for an extended period of time and help. I'm not saying hire them as caterers or servers. I"m saying (or I was anyway), pay them to go to the site and wait for Famous Dave's and when Famous Dave's shows up, show them where to put the food.

                                                          But, it's all moot anyway because she lives in Singapore. If she's still going to try to do it all herself, it might be nice to have some extra help loading it all into her vehicle, unloading it, setting it up, watching it while she goes back for a second trip, etc.

                                                          But, you'll get there soon enough... I can see by your replies that you haven't gotten to the punch line yet, so to speak.


                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            I flagged and asked the Mods to add [SINGAPORE] to the title.

                                                      2. My advice to everyone who posts this type of thread is always the same . . . .

                                                        PICK YOUR ITEMS VERY CAREFULLY!!!!!

                                                        I advise selecting things that require NO day-of preparation other than heating/thawing and plating. If you don't do this regularly you'll be amazed at how much time simple things take up.

                                                        I like the idea of platters on the tables instead of a buffet line but that means it limits some of your options (as you probably don't want chaffing dishes on every table).

                                                        Since you are doing an Asian dinner before (in Asia) one of my suggestions will be odd - but I've done parties with pasta salads (mine were asian) in American style chinese take out containers. They are easy to prep the day/morning before and stack really easily in a fridge.

                                                        I just can't stress enough think of "heat/thaw" only options.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: thimes

                                                          Yep, we're not going to pick any dishes needing cooking on the day itself. It's thaw or reheat only.

                                                          Oh, ironically, you'll be surprised to know, those Chinese take-out boxes are considered novelty items here and pretty darn expensive. We use plastic containers and foam boxes for take out here which kind of don't look as cute...

                                                          1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                                            There are so many things that we in America think are "Asian" that are never found in Asia proper. But I do love those containers for parties.

                                                            Is there a type of cuisine you are thinking about or ruling out?

                                                            My go to large gathering food is always Italian (but that is my preference).

                                                            There are so many party food options that can be done at least a day ahead (longer and frozen if you have freezer space). Lasagna - Manicotti - bakes shells - baked ziti (etc).

                                                            You can also do several hearty salads (green ones just toss with dressing right before serving) - spinach and strawberry salad - orzo pasta salads (protein of choice) - tomato watermelon salad . . .

                                                            Or think braised meats - you mentioned curry, chicken cacciatori, etc.

                                                            All of these are very economical, easy to do ahead, require little day of attention.

                                                            This can be done, just choose wisely!

                                                            1. re: thimes

                                                              I'm ruling out Chinese! Because we're already having a Chinese lunch and most of the caterers who cater cheap will serve you rather terrible, reheated frozen Chinese food. *Shudder* I've spent quite a long time traveling around as a kid so there are a lot of cuisines I love and I'm quite wiling to turn the dinner into an international pick'n'mix affair otherwise.

                                                              1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                                                What about Indian?

                                                                Singapore has a large Indian community and where I live (in Dubai) Indian catering is very common and cheap, with huge platters of biryani and dishes of curries.

                                                        2. two questions in the interest of trying to help...
                                                          1) is the $5000 in singapore dollars, or us dollars? i'm assuming singapore but had previously thought us.
                                                          2) is the $5000 for the event in total, or just for food? if it's for the total event, have you already committed to your current space and if so how much is left for food?
                                                          3) i recall alcohol being *extremely* expensive in singapore. are you planning to serve alcohol?

                                                          1. Even though you won't have access to a kitchen, will you have access to electricity for crock-pots and the like?


                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              I'm still unclear on whether or not you'll have access to electricity...since I'm uncertain, the ideas I gave you below assume the answer is no.


                                                            2. Here's my 2 cents. I would skip the idea of making everything yourself. You have enough to do with the actual wedding, and you will only cause yourself more stress if something goes wrong with the food. You can do the simpler things, like spiced nuts, cheese plate, etc but I would leave the bigger items to friends/family and outside restaurants. I'm not sure how you will cook, transport and setup everything without a kitchen. Even a hot dog bar would require the hot dogs to be cooked somewhere. Are you going to have people at your house heating up food and bringing it to you before the reception? Do you have more than 1 oven to heat up all that food? Do you have a refrigerator large enough to hold all that food before it's heated up?

                                                              I would not tell the restaurants/caterers that you are having a wedding reception. That automatically increases the price. Just tell them you are having a party.

                                                              Wingzone will deliver wings -- order them ahead of time and have them delivered directly to the venue at the specified time. They are pretty decent -- I've had them at family get-togethers.

                                                              Spizza is not high-end pizza, but it's pretty good. The most important part is that they deliver. Take it a step further and order your salads from them too. Or try Sarpino's if they're still around -- my cousin did their pizzas for her kid's bday party a couple years ago and everyone seemed to like them.

                                                              You could do a dessert bar of sorts by buying/baking cookies, and brownies a couple days beforehand and arranging them on nice trays. Those wouldn't need to be refrigerated beforehand either.

                                                              I'd skip the gin cocktails and go with something like a spiked punch with vodka or rum -- a lot of people don't like gin. You can offer a nonalcoholic version too.

                                                              Not sure what area you are having your reception in, but I would contact some of the local restaurants and see if they would be willing to deliver to the venue for a small fee. Some of them might, especially if it's not too far from their location.

                                                              9 Replies
                                                              1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                Uh, OK, I'm a bit overwhelmed now so I'll just quickly reply.
                                                                The budget includes venue and more than half is going to venue and logistics leaving things a bit tight because both my initial venues are not available.

                                                                Alcohol is still fairly expensive but there are ways.

                                                                I think I'm fairly happy with the nachos/hotdogs idea and we're going to do a trial run of it for an upcoming family party and see if its manageable at half the amount of people. If not, I'll keep tweaking and working from there.

                                                                1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                                                  I'm warming up to the idea of the hot dog/nachos idea and I'm really glad you're going to have a chance to do a trial run. That will give you a chance to perfect it.


                                                                  1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                                                    The hot dogs are totally doable and easy.

                                                                    If you have a large drink thermos, you can pour in the boiling liquid over the dogs and they will stay hot for hours.

                                                                    We do this with brats when tailgating football games and they are still hot after the game.

                                                                    1. re: thimes

                                                                      I just dug up a giant two tier steamer in my parents' kitchen which they use to steam whole fish. I'm pretty sure that can be put on top of a hot plate and used to steam/heat enough hotdogs. I think once I have the budget and trial run down, I can stop worrying about everything. I sort of miss life without wedding planning worries/battles.

                                                                      1. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                                                        The steamer will definitely keep them warm, it may take a while to heat them all though. So just think about that with the timing of everything. You may want to heat them at home in hot water and then keep warm at the venue in the steamer.

                                                                        If you can find those great little hot dog bags (probably not over there but . . . ) I do love a steamed bun with my hotdog.

                                                                        There are lots of toppings you can have out for the hotdogs, many of which work for nachos as well - salsa, jalapenos, cheese, chili, etc/etc. We have a few "hot dog only" places here (they are a little trendy right now) so you could search for unusual toppings as well.

                                                                        My only suggestion would be to think about colors for the toppings. Hot dogs and nachos is a pretty beige palette - so some colorful salads and/or toppings will help with presentation.

                                                                    2. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                                                      Who is coming to your reception? You said upthread its going to be a lot of Chinese people and I assume people from a Malaysian heritage from your side..

                                                                      Have you considered the cultural aspects of all of this? Is there a danger that hot dogs, nachos and gin cocktails could offend some guests and you sand your partner could lose some face?

                                                                      I know budget is difficult but there is lots of tradition in weddings in any country. I can see a group of young friends going for gin and hot dog picnic, but if its a multi generational guest list you may need to think how the aged relatives will take things.

                                                                      The other factor is that Sing is a pretty foodie city with young and old being pretty food centric. If it were me I would try and convince the fiancé to accept a catered biryani if the quality is great, or maybe see if a fish head curry place like Sammy's could cater.

                                                                      Or could it even be the venue? You may find by using a venue that doesn't do food you are doubling up on costs as if you go to a restaurant the venue costs will probably be cheap - especially if you try and think outside the box.

                                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                                        I've been there with other venue options. Its impossible to keep from them that its a wedding and that drives costs up. If I can't keep costs below the per head cost of the restaurant banquet, I may be asked to combine receptions and host my friends with family which I absolutely do not want happening.

                                                                      2. re: Alex.Chen.Tay

                                                                        OK, I hope I'm not too off-base here, but, I'm under the impression you want this to be fun, informal and unique (and not kill anyone). In my mind, I'm visualizing a Texas State Fair or Texas ball game theme (forgive me anyone who is actually from Texas, especially since I'm about to suggest chili WITH beans and NO meat...). Not that you have to call it that, mind you, but I'm just thinking of dishes that would "play well" together.

                                                                        - Do it yourself hot dog bar. Keep it super simple and have all the condiments you make available be the kind that come in jars. Mustard, catsup, relish, maybe sauerkraut.

                                                                        - Do it yourself walking tacos station (which is a slight variation on your nachos theme, but I worry with the nachos that your cheese will congeal). Set out individual serving bags of Fritos corn chips, grated cheese (that you grate in advance and freeze), a vegetarian chili you make in advance, freeze, then heat up. If you can bring a sterno to put the chili over, that would be great, but since it's vegetarian, odds are you wouldn't kill anyone even if you didn't have it over sterno flame, and salsa either that you make in advance and freeze or from a jar. Use sliced jalapenos from a jar to set out to save yourself the prep time. Normally you'd also serve walking tacos with sour cream, but I'd skip that as it wouldn't do well in the heat. The only thing I'd add to this recipe below is that you have to instruct people to crush the Fritos in the bag before they scoop their toppings into the bag. You want the Fritos to kind of be in bits as that's easier to manage with a spoon when you eat it out of the bag than if the chips are whole. http://picky-palate.com/2010/01/31/ho... Remember to have enough spoons! You might need instructions out on the table telling people what these are and how to do assemble them.

                                                                        - Some kind of corn salad (similar to this one, but use a little more olive oil in liu of the mayo) http://www.loveandlemons.com/2013/06/... I think you can easily use frozen or canned corn and do the prep of the other veg (jalapenos, green onions) a couple of days in advance and just assemble at the last minute. (This is where I suggest you have a little help). There are tons of versions out there but skip the ones that call for black beans (because you'll have beans in the chili for the walking tacos) and tomatoes because those are too much work and would wilt.

                                                                        - Dishes of peanuts on the tables. I'd even serve them in the shells if its the kind of outdoor venue where they wouldn't mind if people dropped peanut shells on the ground.

                                                                        - Peanut butter cookies and brownies that you make in advance and freeze. I was going to suggest choc chip cookies, but I worry the chocolate will melt in the heat.

                                                                        - I can't think of a way you can do this in advance, but sliced watermelon might make a refreshing alternative on the dessert table. Watermelon aqua fresca would be good, too. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/watermel...

                                                                        - How about beer cocktails? Can you get a pony keg and put it on ice? http://www.finecooking.com/articles/h...

                                                                        Since the walking tacos and hot dogs are both "do it yourself", I was thinking you could have three "stations" or tables (rather than putting things in the middle of the individual dining tables). 1) Hot dogs and corn salad, 2) walking tacos, and 3)desserts. Beverages would be a station, too, I guess.

                                                                        Of course, I have no idea if you have access to all of these ingredients and/or if they are affordably priced in Singapore...

                                                                        ETA: I suggest that anything you decide to serve you do a trial run or two on a small scale so you can be certain you understand how all of the recipes work, etc. before you're trying to do a giant batch and/or trying to do them while under pressure.


                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          The party is for friends. Most people who know me know that I can't be depended on to follow any kind of tradition when it comes to things.

                                                                          TDQ, we can get ingredients readily enough or substitute them. Tex-mex is one of my favorite cuisines and I've learned to make quite a few dishes with locally available ingredients. I've thankfully found a cafe which supplies baked goods and chicken wings and is halal so i think we're pretty set to go.