Don't let me go hungry on my wedding day
October 5, 2006 4:53 PM   Subscribe

Cooking for 150+ people...

We're engaged (hooray!) and the family insists they can handle whatever we throw at them in terms of recipes, no need for a caterer. We need suggestions for food that would be tasty, feasible to make for around 150 guests, and appropriate for a wedding. Thanks in advance.
posted by nuclear_soup to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Before we get to actual recipes, do you want something that has a theme? Maybe food from your honeymoon destination, or the type of food from your favorite restaurant or a vacation you took together.
posted by saffry at 4:57 PM on October 5, 2006

A theme is probably a good idea...I am sure your family has great cooks but do they really have the equipment required to be able to cook for 150 people?

Most of the home-catered weddings I am aware of had a sort of cookout theme - cold salads, things that can be grilled, etc, basically things that can be made far in advance and refrigerated until time to serve.

Another idea is a clambake theme, in a similar vein.

If you want something kind of "proper" you could always do a sort of high tea. THere was an AskMe not too long ago about making little tea sandwiches ahead of time - serve those with scones and little pastries and whatnot, and that would be great.

For dinner ideas...things that can be baked and thus are easier to cook in bulk. Lasagnas, chicken parm, eggplant parm, roasted chicken breasts.

Hope some of these ideas help!

And congratulations!!!
posted by tastybrains at 5:10 PM on October 5, 2006

posted by tristeza at 6:14 PM on October 5, 2006

So much depends on the site at which you have your wedding and/or reception, and what its food preparation/storage/refrigeration storage capacities are, that I think you need to have those factors firmly in mind as you begin your planning.

If you have a basic rental hall, without kitchen facilities, you're pretty much looking at pot-luck style food. Be careful how many electrical skillets, crock pots, coffee pots, etc. your people plan to bring, so as not to overload circuits, and bring plenty of extension cords. Have a couple of rolls of masking tape, and several Sharpies handy to mark pots with names and maybe contents, as people bring them in, to save questions at break down. And make one person or group responsible for drink coolers, ice, drinks and cups. The good thing about potluck dinners for large family type gatherings, is that everybody that is diet restricted, or just a picky eater, can be sure of getting something they want, by just bringing a pot of it!

If a working kitchen is present, as is available in many church halls, you may be able to use the appliances for cooking communal dishes, or warming food, but if no one has experience in large scale, or restaurant cooking, your reception is not the time for someone to be getting it. You or whoever you appoint as your reception "honcho," needs to visit the facility a few days in advance, and verify that the kitchen appliances are working, and in good shape, if you are counting on them for food preparation, or holding food at safe temperatures before serving. During the reception, somebody should be using a food thermometer on all items, and looking out for food safety, so your reception doesn't go down in family history as the "party that killed the old folks and kids." After the event, the same person that did the pre-event check needs to be responsible for seeing that cleanup is done to the hall's satisfaction, after you leave (especially if you yourself are going away on honeymoon).

And some items, like the wedding cake, can just be such a pain to make look good for pictures, that you want to have them done professionally.
posted by paulsc at 6:23 PM on October 5, 2006

My sister had a make-your-own fajitas table at her wedding. It was a big hit, delicious, and easy to serve. Her reception was outdoors, so this may be a little informal for yours.
posted by bwanabetty at 6:29 PM on October 5, 2006

I love your family's attitude, but stop to reflect for a minute: It will be a real pain to cater for that many people. Remind yourself and your family that you will have a lot on your mind that day, and will need to be free to play host/ess, especially to out-of-town guests -- you don't want yourselves and your parents to be tied to the stove/ washing dishes / trying to coordinate delivery and set-up and coolers full of ice. Please reflect on the madness. Things go wrong at the last minute anyway, and it's worth some money to be able to pass one category of problem off to pros. (Also, some venues require a licensed caterer.)

But.... it could also be fun. Especially if it will be in an informal setting where church-picnic or BBQ type foods will work, and your family and guests are all fans of the pitch-in-and-help spirit, then awesome. Have watermelon! Have cold salads, have burgers and dogs, have punch... have veggie sushi?

(Might help future answerers if you told us:
1. What time of year
2. What time of day
and 3. What kind of venue will it be in?)
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:51 PM on October 5, 2006

There is a book called Food for Fifty by Mary Molt. It gives directions and recipes for preparing all kinds of foods for large amounts of people. I used to work at a restaurant and we used tons of recipes from this book.
posted by catseatcheese at 7:44 PM on October 5, 2006 [2 favorites]

All great questions above, and I will add: What level of formality in the food is desired?
posted by mmascolino at 7:48 PM on October 5, 2006

I have bartended at weddings that were Pot Luck (Latch) and incredibly tasty. Just send out a list of requisite dishes and let folks attending chip in. If you supply the drink, they'll supply the food. I had this curried hummos that has changed my life.
Absolutely incredible. Now I put curry on everything.
Boun Fortuna, Boun Appetito!
posted by sgobbare at 7:55 PM on October 5, 2006

A chef friend and his baker wife did their own wedding for about fifty, buffet style. The food I remember clearly was based around artisanal breads. Buy the best you can from a bakery, and then pair it with things like bruschetta, country pate, tapanade, cheeses. This is easy to do, and will save time for the other entrees, none of which I can remember.
posted by saffry at 8:11 PM on October 5, 2006

Oh no! I just realized the link didn't work!
posted by catseatcheese at 8:50 PM on October 5, 2006 [2 favorites]

While we're waiting to hear more from the OP on season, theme, etc., here's a suggestion: hire someone to serve the food.

Your mom wants to spend the day weeping with joy and accepting congratulations, not finding serving spoons and replenishing cheese trays.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:14 AM on October 6, 2006

There is a website called Serves Fifty that might give you some ideas. Informal gatherings are far easier to deal with; I have put on or helped with things like pig pickings, oyster roasts, and low-country boils that are pretty easy to scale up for 150 or more but are also potentially messy. It can definitely be done, but as others have mentioned, more information would make for better answers. Another question that I have not seen is whether you are looking at a sit-down dinner or heavy hors d'Ĺ“uvres?
posted by TedW at 6:36 AM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

Other useful AxMe posts on this.
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:55 AM on October 6, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry, I should have been more clear.

Additional information:

1. It will be held in late June, and the food will be for a dinner
2. we will have use of a large kitchen at the place of the reception, one, maybe two days before hand
3. There is no set theme, the only food we have settled on so far is from various family members offering to cook whatever speciality dish they are known for making.
posted by nuclear_soup at 8:46 AM on October 6, 2006

we have done the low country boil thing several times for a large group and it works great. we cover tables with newspaper, give everyone bibs and napkins, dump it in the middle and there you go. no silverware. beer and iced tea to drink. easy and relatively inexpensive per person.

the other mass food we have done is calf fries, but i am guessing that would ick most of your guests out.
posted by domino at 8:47 AM on October 6, 2006

posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 9:48 AM on October 6, 2006

In general soups/stews and casseroles can be pretty easy to scale up and serve to large crowds; think chili or lasagne, for example. Salads are also easy to make for a crowd. All of this will be even easier if you have a large kitchen with large pots and pans available. If you are going to serve buffet style then smaller quantities of a variety of foods can work well especially if you have a number of family members willing do do sort of a pot luck thing. This is a pretty common way of doing wedding receptions here in the south. If you go that route be sure to coordinate so you don't get all desserts or no vegetables. You can also combine approaches and get someone else to prepare the main dish (fried chicken is popular here) and have your family bring side dishes. In short this is very doable and can be fun, but it will take some effort. The amount of effort can vary a good bit though, depending on how you want to work things out.
posted by TedW at 8:10 AM on October 7, 2006

You can make lasagne, or spanakopita, or swedish meatballs way ahead and freeze them. They can be thawed the day before, and cooked that day. Baked beans, colesalaw, potato salad, and ham scale well. Ask good friends to make lots of salad, and get really good bread. If you are an exceptional bread maker, make bread or dough beforehand and freeze it.

If your family has an interesting culinary heritage, now's the time for it. Be insanely cautious about food handling; nothing spoils a party like food poisoning. At a party for 150, you need several servers and cleaner-uppers. Plan absolutely everything on paper, and bring extra supplies.

Unless you have a talented baker / cake-decorator as a friend, consider buying the cake. Or do really good cupcakes, which will still take a lot of time.

We self-catered our wedding with some very generous-of-their-time friends. The food was great, but the servers bailed out at the last minute. A crew of friends and family did all the kitchen work, and had a great time, but you can't plan on that.
posted by theora55 at 4:50 PM on October 7, 2006

« Older outdoor guerilla cinema   |   blogging software? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.