Something you might not know about me unless you are in the ski racing community is that I cook for all the campers, coaches and staff at our PV Alpine Summer and Fall Camps at Mt. Hood, Oregon and Vail, Colorado.
This summer I cooked 7,992 meals by making breakfast, lunch and dinner for 24 days for everyone at camp. The kids and coaches work hard so it is my job to make sure they are well fed and able to perform all day on the hill skiing as well as at dry-land exercise activities. Fuel is super important for athletes. This past Thanksgiving at Vail myself and my dear friend, Ardie, served turkey dinner to 85 campers, coaches and parents. We made 6 turkeys and 2 hams and all the sides. So cooking in bulk I will say is something that I can do confidently. Over the 13 years we have been running camps I have learned a lot and want to share some tips with you.
Alex’s Tips for BULK Cooking:
- I know I have said this before but I will say it again – always have your dishwasher and trash empty. This makes for easy clean-up and so people can help more easily.
- Always double the main course. So if the Lasagna says it will feed 12 people think 6 – that way you make sure you have enough.
- Use sides as filler so always have a salad, bread and dessert depending on what the main course is.
- Drink stations and a drink dispenser is always important so the guests can help themselves to drinks.
- Make sure your napkins, plates, bowls, cups, salt and pepper and any condiments are out in smart and user friendly locations – this limits the questions as to where things are.
- If you are cooking for 20 and up set out one set of the meal. For example one salad, one lasagna and one tray of bread then refresh with the 2nd set of food once the 1st group go through. Remember people will take more if they see more so keep it a reasonable amount out.
- If you only have enough of one dish for people to take one or two let them know at the start so everyone gets some.
- Buffets are king – set out all the food and let people take a plate and go through. Be aware and scoot in to wipe up and refresh or it looks pretty bad by the end.
- Have one or more friends or family member you can trust to actually be helpful to help do prep and cook.
- Make a list and divide up the tasks to knock out the meal.
- Make a detailed grocery list before you shop for the meal so you don’t miss something.
- Assign or ask friends or family members to help with clean-up so it goes quickly.
Don’t be scared off by cooking for large groups. It can be a really fun time – you do want to break it down into steps and be organized so you get everything you need at the grocery store and that you get the help you need and aren’t in a pinch. It’s always a memorable experience and remember to roll with it. There is always something exciting that happens when cooking for so many – but that is when great stories are born.
Until Next Time,
West Coast Shorter Wife