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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Unread 03-05-2012, 08:15 PM   #1
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Default Buffet style catering

I have a catering for 75 people this weekend and they wanted it buffet style. I didn't thinkg about about it until now but how do I "police" a buffet style set up so I don't get people taking twice as much as they should???
Anybody have ideas?
I thought I might put the menu at the beginning of the table..Pork or Beef sandwich with 2 sides.

Thanks for any input.

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Unread 03-05-2012, 08:35 PM   #2
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I always place the meats at the end of the table and have a server place the meats.
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Unread 03-05-2012, 08:55 PM   #3
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What Shane is suggesting is the norm for most buffets I have seen where amounts need to be limited.
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Unread 03-05-2012, 09:11 PM   #4
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Thanks Guys!!
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Unread 03-06-2012, 05:23 AM   #5
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I would contact the person paying and ask them how much they want to put out and have a person place, that will also help speed up the line. I would consider making a boat load of burnt Ends in a chafer as this what most people will flock to.
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Unread 03-06-2012, 07:03 AM   #6
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All I do is serve buffet style, I don't police. I have yet to come close to having a problem.
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Unread 03-06-2012, 08:19 AM   #7
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I never let guests fill their plates for two reasons.
1. I lose portion control
2. I think it is more professional to have servers on the buffet line and it gives us a chance to interact with the guests. They will be your best referral source.
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Unread 03-06-2012, 08:49 AM   #8
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Hey PorkQPine, don't take this wrong I mean it for good discussion and I am also not trying to rob the thread kinda feel the discussion gives info to help with his question.

I have learned (for me) the key to portion control is small serving spoons. My thoughts are I would rather serve myself rather at a buffet than go down a buffet line have someone serve me. Again these were my thoughts when I went in business. I can serve a group of 100 people buffet style with myself and one assistant. My way of thinking is the additional costs of labor are much higher than my cost of preparing a little extra food they might eat by serving themselves. It's only when I serve mac and cheese that I find us going through a lot more than other sides. To cure the problem I raised the price of mac and cheese as a side option and I prepare more of it than other sides. I guess it could also depend on what you charge per person, if I were to charge $9 per peson I do see why I would need to portion each guest. I charge $12.50 per person for pork and two sides add a $1 if you choose mac as one of those sides.

I can see your point of interaction with guests and I don't have much time during serving to talk with them, but once the line slows down after everyone has been through and eaten I usually have time to talk with them. Again I'm not saying my way is correct or anything I like to hear the way others do things and wanted to give input.
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Unread 03-06-2012, 10:26 AM   #9
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I always find it amazing that one of the easiest dishes to prepare is always such a big hit. Mac and cheese will always kill.

Back on topic, even though it is an extra cost, having someone control meat portions makes for a more efficient and cost effective catering situation for most folks. It also adds a touch of show and interaction that makes the entire event seem more enjoyable. I have done, or been involved in, events where we tried to use discreet preproportioned servings (think carved sandwiches on a board or in a chafer) and still, some of the folks would take the meat and leave the bun. There is, I believe, a tendency for people to over-serve themselves meat at buffets. In fact, my own family has folks like this, who take too much meat and end up leaving it.

If the client is willing to go more cost ($9 versus $12) then perhaps this is less of an issue.
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Unread 03-08-2012, 04:23 PM   #10
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DITTO, Got to have a server on the protiens!
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Unread 03-09-2012, 09:53 AM   #11
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I know every area is different, I'm in CA, but my min. price is $14.99, I don't see how you guys do anything for $9. I figure that at my price, and I am the normal around here, they expect to be served. If someone wants $9 p/p I tell them to go to a restaurant and pick it up. We do on-site BBQ, no pick up and no drop off, I'll leave that for the local restaurants. If they want quality BBQ they will pay for it, if they want cheap BBQ it won't be from me. We all have our niche, but for me the way to a loser operation is to try to be all for all. Protect your reputation, you don't want word of mouth to drive your prices down or be known for cooking meat and not full service since the sides is where you pick up your profit.
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Unread 03-09-2012, 11:58 AM   #12
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I very rarely serve meats. The only time I do serve meats is when we are slicing it for the customers. PorkQPine helped me cater an event in Rocklin for the Porsche Club of America where we sliced Prime Rib to order. The other side dishes were totally self serve. Side dishes are your friend. I line the buffet table with dishes arranged by cost. Usually salad first, then bread, then beans, then potatoes etc. I make quanity more than needed for side dishes. The meats come next and most of my catering involves chicken and tri-tip. I heap a chafing tray with chicken and I fill a tri-tip tray abiout 2/3 full. I put the chicken tray first in line, then the tri-tip. I refill the tri-tip often enough that it never goes empty. People do a fine job of dishing there own plates. I use Chinet heavy duty 3 compartment plates. The two smaller compartments are 4 ounce compartments---my side dishes have 4 ounce serving spoons. I never put out small plates for salad or bowls for beans. All foods must go on to the plate. Space on the plate will control portions. There is the 1 person out of every 100 that will bypass all side dishes and fill his plate with meat. Due to peer pressure in the serving line and human nature these types are a very low percentage.
People that serve themselves come away from a buffet line with more appreciation than people that are doled out amounts by servers.

Costs increase when using servers. Servers do not work for free and usually require a 4 hour mininmum of hours. at even minimum wage for most states that equals around 35 dollars, two servers 70 dollars. It is less expensive to spend a few extra dollars for extra meat, than to pay servers.
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Unread 03-09-2012, 08:33 PM   #13
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I usually have someone with me to help prep/cook and set up and take down the buffet as well as keep things filled. I figure if I have someone there with me why let them sit on the sidelines and not have them help serve? My usual event is 100 people so that does make a difference because when we have 50 I do it myself. Most events are chicken and tri-tip and I slice the tri-tip to order, it stays hot that way and the juice stays in the meat and not on the bottom of the chafer. When the numbers get really high I can't slice to order so I fill the chafers with tri-tip and refill as necessary. BTW, Chickwagonbbq and I have done a number of events together and he is my mentor.
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