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Thread: Total Home Cook (Newb) Question

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    Total Home Cook (Newb) Question

    So I was looking through knyfeknerd's catering thread, and it brought up a question I've long wondered about. When you're plating a bajillion dishes in a catering setting or really any setting where a lot of items on a plate are prepared in advanced and then plated, how the heck to do you manage temperature control? I mean, I get that a warm plate will help, but after you've plated 40 of the things, surely the temperature has to be off... But it rarely is when I go to these functions. Is there something I'm missing? Any tricks I can use in a home kitchen when I've got a dinner party menu with a thousand components but only 2 working burners?

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    Senior Member mpukas's Avatar
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    A couple tricks hotels/restaurants use is a ton of people who each plate one item, and then the finished plates are covered w/ a pre-heated lid.

    As a private chef, I understand your concern. Use the oven - it's your best friend to keep things warm, from plates to finished cooked items. Prioritize your items - some can be held at temp for a while, such as starches, some veggies, and braised meats, while others can't take any more heat or they'll be over cooked, such as fish and grilled meats. Get your plates as hot as your can safely handle them, keep items that can be at temp in the oven the longest, and plate the temp sensative proteins etc. last. And get as many people as you can to help ferry the plates f/ the counter to table. mpp
    Shibui - simplicity devoid of unnecessary elements

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    Senior Member BobCat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mpukas View Post
    A couple tricks hotels/restaurants use is a ton of people who each plate one item, and then the finished plates are covered w/ a pre-heated lid.
    Chef, where can a home cook buy a few of these lid covers? I am guessing you heat them in the oven?
    “Lettuce is divine, although I’m not sure it’s really a food.” D. Vreeland

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    Senior Member tkern's Avatar
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    Hot boxes. Large temperature controlled boxes so you can plate the food, put a lid on it and stack it in the box. Some of these can stack a couple hundred plates at a time.

  5. #5
    1. You work really fast. It's all about setting up a system that allows you minimum movements over and over.
    2. As a caterer, I told people I wasn't a cook. I was a carry-over management specialist. The ideal situation is that the food is made so that it's perfect AFTER it's been held. This is where you learn to love resting your meats, finishing things in the oven on low temp, and allowing the soup to cool a bit.
    3. When you do an event for, say, 600 people, the 500th order doesn't have to be done when the 1st is walking out. It doesn't even necessarily have to be started, because of the logistics of getting the food all out there and on everyone's table.
    4. We'd use the proofer to hold plated food SOMETIMES. This is a sort of worst case scenario, because it's hard to know exactly how the food should be held, and it'll only buy you like 15 minutes, but I've done it.

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    Oh man. I KNEW there was something more than just plating them up one by one on the counter until their done and you can serve. That's the one thing that I do struggle with in a small home kitchen when I've got a ton of guests over. I mean, the outdoor barbecue style stuff is easy. In fact, most lunches are and anything I can do buffet style is easy as well. But the more formal dinners... once you cross that 15 person mark I struggle a bit to keep it all organized to make sure everything is all coming out at the right temp etc.

    So I ask because I've got one coming up the weekend after next and was curious.

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    YIKES! Here I'm kvetching about a 25 person guest list and y'all are doing 600 people!! Hey. If I didn't have these questions or concerns, I wouldn't be a nub

  8. #8
    LOL Yeah, my catering days ended yesterday(at least for the time being), but we'd do a few thousand people a week at various events. You get used to it.

    What's your meal? Maybe I can help you brainstorm a game plan.

  9. #9
    Good luck Ben.

    I agree with you. From personal experience, just doing home parties up to 30 or 40 people, once you go over 15 or so, it's a whole different ball game. There's so much more involved.

    Hey Ben. I got an idea. Just serve a whole lobe of foie gras. Let them go at it like vultures. You'll be a hero.
    Michael
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    Ha! You're just jealous that I, the non-Californian that I am, will be able to do so past June! In all seriousness, though, I seem to recall that prepping a whole lobe is incredibly tricky. I've done medallions but never a whole lobe.

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