Q. I’m doing my own cooking for my wedding reception, and I have the menu set but I need to know how much I need to cook for 75 people.
A. Getting married and cooking for the reception? We’d advise paring that down to one of the two. Assuming you choose the cooking, we can give you some tips. It would help if we knew what you are serving, but assume at the very least you’re planning a buffet and not a sit-down meal.
We really like a new book that’s been creeping up our review list Secrets From a Caterer’s Kitchen (Canada, UK)
by Nicole Aloni. It has several pages of charts that would help you estimate the necessary quantities. Her estimates provide a half-sized portion of each dish for every guest (assuming, then, that you have two entrees, two or three vegetables, two salads, etc. If you are going to have only one entrée, you would double the recommended amount.)
For instance, if you include a soup as a first course, you should have 3.5 gallons for 75 guests, again, assuming that only half the guests will partake. If you serve cole slaw, you should make 16 to 20 cups. An iceberg or romaine lettuce salad will require 11 heads, while you will need 40 cups of mesclun mix. Sprinkle either salad with 5 cups of croutons. For a fruit salad, plan on 9 quarts; for a pasta salad, 5.5 pounds of pasta before cooking. If you’re serving boneless chicken, shrimp, or a fish fillet, plan on 22 pounds raw weight. As an entrée, you’ll need between 10 and 12 pounds of pasta and 8 quarts of a cream sauce or 12 quarts of a tomato sauce. For asparagus, peas, carrots, cauliflower, beets, broccoli, green beans, squash or zucchini, cook 11 pounds, but for spinach, you’ll need 19. You’ll want 10 dozen dinner rolls, as they tend to be popular. And for the grand finale, of course, a cake for 75.
If you insist on going through with all this, we suggest you talk someone into giving you a copy of Secrets From a Caterer’s Kitchen as an early wedding present. The groom, perhaps?