How To Cook For A Crowd

by Sarah Sandori - Date: 2007-01-28 - Word Count: 442 Share This!

One of the simple pleasures of life is sharing a meal with a large group of compatible people, whether they be friends or family. Meals are a special delight when they involve a dozen, two dozen, or even more folks seated at a large dining table or around picnic tables, perhaps on a screened porch or under a picnic pavilion.

Cooking for a crowd is not the problem that many first-timers imagine it to be, but it is different. It does require a number of skills in addition to whatever natural cooking skills you might possess.

The number one rule for cooking for a crowd: Plan! Plan everything. Your culinary production will definitely be much more time-consuming than cooking for your immediate family or for dinner guests. Make sure you can devote a solid block of hours to the actual cooking and serving. Planning and buying for the big day could require several full afternoons.

Another rule is to keep hot food hot. Unless it's for a picnic where people expect most dishes to be served cold, you will want to ensure that the food reaches the table warm (at least). Decide ahead of time how you will do this.

Here's something else to consider: How much space do you have for cooking? Cooking for a crowd can become unimaginably stressful if your kitchen area is so small that you and your helpers are continually bumping in to one another. If your cooking space is too small, you might want to reconsider even taking on the job in the first place.

Among the most rewarding types of events to cook for is the family reunion. Well ahead of time, put out the word that you're looking for people to contribute their favorite family recipes. Food tastes often run in families, which makes it easier to prepare a meal that almost everyone will enjoy. (There are always those cantankerous souls, though, who rebel against all family traditions--including beloved dishes. Such is family!)

I come from Louisiana, where cooking for a crowd is almost a performance art. It is also a place where summer usually stretches out many months, affording plenty of opportunities for picnics and other outdoor occasions where good food is the center of attention. Being responsible for feeding a multitude of mouths is something that I truly enjoy. But even if it is not your forte, believe me, you can pull it off--and maybe even win applause. Remember: Plan!

Who knows? If you find that cooking for a crowd turns out to be something you're good at and that you enjoy, you could try doing it for a living. It is how many professional caterers got their start.

Related Tags: cooking, family, catering, crowds, entertaining, picnics, family reunions

Sarah Sandori is the food and entertaining columnist for the Solid Gold Info Writers Consortium. Have you ever wanted to be able to exactly duplicate a favorite dish from a favorite restaurant? Check out Sarah's article where she reveals her source for the most mouth-watering secret restaurant recipes in America: Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

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