The Caterers Corner
Estimating Amounts Caterers Corner: Estimating Amounts
By Seattletoo (Seattletoo) on Friday, June 11, 2004 - 11:58 pm: Edit

Hi, I've read much of what's been posted and found it very helpful. Thank you. Based on what I've learned, I've put together a list for a wedding reception buffet for 75. It will be outdoors in early August, around 4:30 p.m. in the Seattle area. Primarily an over-40 crowd. If anyone could comment on my list, pointing out if I have too much or too little, or if something is missing, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

For 75 people

10 # chicken wings
3# shrimp (no head)
3# chinese bbq pork slices
2# sliced deli meat
1 pinwheel/wrap sandwich per person (75 pcs total)
1 pc veg. sushi per person (75 pcs total)

FRUIT: (weight after preparation)
10# cantalope
10# honey dew
10# watermelon
4# seedless grapes
1 whole pineapple
plus extra kiwi, blueberries & strawberries
I'm assuming 50% waste on the melons so for 10 lbs prepared, I would buy 20 lbs

2# carrots
2# broccoli
2# cauliflower
1# cherry tomatoes
1# cucumbers
1# celery or sugar snap peas
4 Cups Veg. Dip

3# tortilla chips
2 pints salsa

2 pints hummus
30-40 pita pockets cut into wedges
2.5# mixed nuts
2 # mints

20 gallons of punch
10 bottles of champagne
wine / beer
50 lbs ice

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Saturday, June 12, 2004 - 02:07 pm: Edit

Not enough Meat. Not enough Champagne and Beer.

Figure 3-5 pieces pre-person, even more with the good stuff like shrimp. Your list is at best one per-person.
There isn't even enough Champagne to go around. What going to happen when you get the bride and groom and there is no more wine left.

There are other better able to critique your list on the forum but my fear has always been the embarrassment caused by running out of food. You serve everyone and you have some food left over well great you did your job and you get paid, run out and you piss everyone off, try explaining that to the mother of the bride.

By Cvincolorado (Cvincolorado) on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 12:30 am: Edit

chef tim is right about the meat. If there is one thing i have found out(the hard way) is that when a gathering is held around dinner time, people treat the food as thier dinner. What size are the wings?(8-12 per #, 12-16 per #) Definetly count on atleast 3 per person. Sushi is a big hit these days. All the events I have served sushi at, the people have eaten atleast 3 per. Now for the shrimp. Are they going to be peeling the shrimp themselves or are they already peeled? If they are peeled then people will eat ALOT of them. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have seen people load up 10-15 on thier first plate. The fruit and veggie amounts look OK. I always seem to have both of these items left over, no matter how much I prep. Consider having a large basket of good bread with some herb butter. Even if is not requested it will help to fill people up a bit and it is relatively cheap to buy. I would have more champagne on hand as well. If you get 8 glasses per bottle, that barely leaves enough. Have it on hand and let the liquor store know you may need to return it. Most stores would be OK with this if you are buying all the rest of the booze there. Cheftim is right when he says it's OK to have some leftovers, but you look really bad if you run out. Good luck

By Seattletoo (Seattletoo) on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 04:57 pm: Edit

Thank you both for your feedback and advice. I thought I'd done my homework, but I see I have lots of room for improvement. I can see your points clearly. You asked the size of the wings, they are 8 per lb., so I'm thinking I can go with just 3 per person. We've since added a variety of cheeses and taken out the sliced deli meat. I had originally calculated the oz. of protein per person (counting wraps) and thought it should be under 8 oz. ea. (we're now up to 13-14oz) But putting these items in terms of pcs per person is obviously important. So we now have 28 lbs of wing pcs. 2 large wraps per person, 6 lb shrimp (cooked & peeled, 51-60/lb).

Do you think 2 oz. of sliced cheeses per person, with a variety of crakers will be sufficient considering all the food?

We've also switched to punch, iced tea, coffee, wine, and microbrews. Based on 24oz per person, I'm thinking 7 gallons of punch and the same for iced tea. The couple wants to try to "down play" the alcoholic beverages so they'll be placed in a somewhat less prominent location. Thank you for reminding me that stores may be willing to take back the excess if it's pre-arranged, that's a great idea.

Your input has made a big difference, thank you! And just for the record, I *am* the mother of the bride! :)

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 05:39 pm: Edit

Something about shrimp brings out the gluttony in people. I recently served 5# of 16/20 pealed and deveined shrimp on ice among other Hors d’oeuvers before a dinner for 20 people and some were disappointed in not getting enough.

Technically it looks like you have enough of everything. But I guess I've been exposed to peoples gluttonous side to often. From my side of the table if I run out of anything the mother of the bride would want my hide. You have an advantage. When Aunt Sally complains about not getting any shrimp suggest she "See if Uncle Bob will share, he took enough for four people..."

By George (George) on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 08:48 pm: Edit

If you are having shrimp and want to limit the amount, have them passed by a server, preferably a quick one that is able to politely ignore all but the most persistant of guests ;<)

When they show up they are welcomed but there is no empty display on a table when they run out.

Shrimp is the number 1 seafood in the US, I've even seen them served at Bar Mitzvah's where they are far from kosher.


By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 09:33 pm: Edit

With shrimp you have to space the passing like G said, and have the servers start at different sides of the room, which is sometimes hard since the kitchen may have only one exit!

By Seattletoo (Seattletoo) on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 08:43 pm: Edit

Thanks again for all the help! We'll probably go with more shrimp (I know one person who will eat a pound or more given the chance.) And I'll make sure that there's no empty spaces are left on the table, whether shrimp or something else. That was a good pointer in itself. We're adding a giant bowl of great bread with spreads, too.

I'm wondering if hot weather affects people's appetites when the event is outside and unusually warm. It's only idle curiosity on my part because we're having a heat wave in the NW, but I'm really hoping it cools off before the big day. A few more gallons of iced tea might help!

You're a great group! Thanks so much!


By Cvincolorado (Cvincolorado) on Sunday, July 25, 2004 - 01:05 am: Edit

A good rule to go by is " when the weather is hot, people eat more SHRIMP" Just kidding and good luck.

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Sunday, July 25, 2004 - 01:00 pm: Edit

I remember a function I once worked for 200 ppl.
I think we cleaned the RESORT out of shrimp. Pealed, peal and eats, 16/20's, 13/15's, 31/35's........cases. Close to about 250 lbs. did they touch the grilled veg displays??? NO..... did they eat any of the compound salads??? NO..... Smoked salmon and oyster displays?? NO......just the shrimp and the carving stations.....thats it....they barely even went near the hot food in the chaffers........we could have just done 3 bars 3 carvers and a boat load of shrimp.......and this was inside. Anyway
Seattletoo good luck with the event...I think all will be fine........and last but not least.......have fun with it.

By Southerncaterer (Southerncaterer) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 08:09 am: Edit

Hi Seattletoo,
These guys gave you some really good advice, definitely listen to the shrimp bit! I always allow 5 pcs. of peeled, deveined shrimp per person. It also depends on the size, if you are going with a large 26/30 ct. you may want to up your order to 14 to 15#. I would also allow a 1/2lb chicken wings per person.
I also noticed you may run out of dip and guests don't eat veggies once the dip is gone.
Really the only reason to have so much fruit is for the eye catching display. If you plan to cube all of that melon, I would lay off maybe 1/2. If you have already ordered it or if you are stuck on using that much, then maybe halve some of them and use them as bowls for strawberries, etc... Then if you find you need more, sneak a few off the table to cube up in the back. Maybe sub some pineapple for melon.
Your cheese looks good, you can also combine the cheese with the fruit display, it will encourage folks to eat more fruit and when/if it runs out you can fill the void with more fruit.
Hope this helps!

By Cvincolorado (Cvincolorado) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 12:59 am: Edit

Seattletoo, if you are still checking on replies, this might help. I just did a party tonight for 140 people. the "peel and eat" shrimp were on the small buffet line with a pasta, mashed potatoes, veggies and carved prime rib. Since they were not an appetizer I didn't think they would eat as many, but prepared for the worst. I cooked 20 pounds of 41-50 shrimp(about 900). I started getting worried when the first three people piled up atleast 15 shrimp each on their plate. I just made it.By the end of the party I had about 20 left. Had they not had to peel them I think I would have run out.

By Seattletoo (Seattletoo) on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 02:52 pm: Edit

Well, the party is over. We had a few more people than originally expected, 85 in all. As you suggested I added more shrimp and wish I hadn't. It got rave reviews, but a LOT went into the trash when it was all over. In fact at least a third of all the food and beverages were never touched.


By George (George) on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 05:36 pm: Edit

Assuming you priced the party correctly that should not be an issue, it was all paid for.

Its allways a crap shoot what a group will eat, having food left over is the norm especially in a buffet, running out is the fear.

Were the shrimp peeled or peel and eat? I'll bet peel and eat if you had a lot left.


By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 07:37 pm: Edit

Why the trash???????????
There's always plenty of takers for shrimps!!!!
Even if it is the staff!!!!

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 09:33 pm: Edit

Hey it happens to professionals too. We gave it our best shot, sometimes it's hard getting it right in a forum. I'm sure you still spent less money than if you had hired a caterer.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 01:51 am: Edit

do you really have to throw shrimp away??
can't soup or sausage or something be made from it??
terrine? something?
isen't that just a big waste?
i know it was all paid for, but when you can turn it over then its almost clean profit if you can use it again.
take away labor, then thats what, a 60% profit on something you can sell again.
just wondering out loud.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 01:55 am: Edit

shrimps not kosher?

how come?

By Corey (Corey) on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 11:38 am: Edit


By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 11:51 am: Edit

.......not the shell????????

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 05:23 pm: Edit

Shrimp are not kosher because they are fish that do not have fins or scales and to be kosher they must have both.

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 08:50 am: Edit

So the Jewish do not eat shrimp??

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 09:06 am: Edit

BS...they do, just not while anyone is watching.....I remember this lady at this club I worked at, she used to come in the kitchen and sneak pork, shrimp and all kinds of stuff!!!!!!
Not in front of the Rabi though!!!!!

By George (George) on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 10:53 am: Edit

When I was a kid I worked in a Jewish CC here on LI, NY. (ahh the good ole days)

To peel the shrimp for the Saturday night dinner dance took all the dishwashers, pot washers and anyone not busy several hours.

Only folks that keep Kosher don't eat shrimp, and that is a small minority from what I've seen.


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