This post is sponsored by Plugra Butter and their fabulous Gourmet Club. All opinions expressed are my own.
Read Part 1 HERE.
That meal you see right up there ^^^? I totally made all of that (and more) for my brother’s wedding dinner Friday night. You don’t have to be a professional chef or food blogger to do the same. I’m telling you, this was easier than making Thanksgiving dinner. A gourmet wedding dinner isn’t as complicated as you think. I don’t recommend the bride or groom do the cooking, but assigning it to a family member or two is not too bad at all.
Decadently Thick Italian Hot Chocolate
Notes on the Menu: Every item on the menu was made with Plugra Butter. Using a nice butter like Plugra makes a noticeable difference, especially when working on a high quality dinner. It’s that extra touch that makes the dinner shine!
This wedding dinner was slightly smaller than dinners I’ve done in the past. We had 22 adults and 9 children. This particular menu could feed 35 adults without too much additional trouble.
This dinner cost under $300. That is less than $10 per person. If you had this meal at a restaurant or professionally catered it would cost you somewhere between $30 and $50 per person.
I prepared a separate option for children giving them my secret ingredient macaroni and cheese instead of the meat and potatoes.
On the day of the dinner, the meal took me approximately 3 hours to prepare.
My meal had to be made at home and then transported to the destination of the dinner. Food was warmed and plated at the location. Yup, I had to make it even harder on myself! Without having to transport food you would need less time. Those 3 hours included loading, transportation, and unloading.
My Tricks to Catering Large Meals
Anything that can be made ahead should be made ahead!
I made the soup and rolls the day before the wedding. Soup can easily be made several days ahead and frozen. Sometimes soups are even better if they sit.
Slow Cookers make great warming trays!
You don’t need to be a professional caterer with warming trays in order to feed a crowd. Bring your slow cooker (and borrow some from a few friends) and use them to keep things warm. With the above menu I used it to keep green beans warm (on the warm setting), hot chocolate ready to go hours ahead (on low), potato puree piping hot (on warm), and macaroni and cheese ready to go (on warm). Seriously, it’s amazing how great slow cookers are at keeping things ready to serve. Most items can safely be kept on warm for up to 4 hours.
Make a spreadsheet!
That’s right, I make a spreadsheet for every large meal I make. It doesn’t matter if it is a dinner for 30 people or 300, I make a spreadsheet to help me estimate my time and keep myself on track in the kitchen. I have one column for where my hands are needed, one column for each oven I have access to, and one column to let me know when things are done. If you have a plan, there’s no reason to be nervous.
Practice makes perfect!
You never want to make a meal for a huge crowd or important even without having made each recipe ahead of time. You don’t have to make enough to feed 30+ people. Enough for your family is just fine. A practice run not only ensures that the recipe will work, but it also gives you confidence going into a large event.
Make friends with your butcher!
Seriously, go up to your meat counter and start talking to the guy who actually cuts it up and packages it. If you are at a decent grocery store this guy will exist. Ask him questions. Let him know what kind of event you are planning and ask his opinion on the cut of meat to use and how much each person will need. My butcher Gil was excited to help me plan out this dinner. He got me the best price he could on the meat and had it prepped and packaged to make it as easy as possible for me.
This meal went off almost without a hitch. As the last plates of the main course were served I somehow ended up with a wrong count and was one plate short. The only plate I had left was my own, which I like to call “the ugly plate.” The only person left to be served was the mother of the bride. Let the panic ensue. I scanned the room and realized that almost everyone was already eating. Luckily my husband had yet to touch his plate. I swapped out his untouched plate with the ugly plate and was still able to provide the VIP mother of the bride with a beautiful plate of food. As for me? I only had scraps from the kitchen left, but I did do a practice meal the week before so I didn’t feel like I was missing out. Mostly I was just happy that everyone had a plate of food in front of them!
The dinner received rave reviews. In fact, most of the adults commented that it was the best plate of beef they had ever had in their lives. I will gladly accept the compliment! High quality cuts of beef aren’t just for restaurants. My butcher Gil says that often times they are even better when made at home. I completely agree!
I wouldn’t leave you hanging without showing you a little taste of the rest of the beautiful wedding. The bride and groom had carved their initials into a tree when they began dating more than 5 years ago. He proposed next to that same tree. Their wedding had an elegant woodsy theme to commemorate, and of course, that included a number of aspen logs with their initials carved in it.