(Closed) Advice: No caterer, DIY ingredients/cooking?

posted 6 years ago in Food
Post # 3
2 posts
  • Wedding: July 1998

Who did you have in mind to cook the food? Cooking food for 100+ people is a lot of work and can be a logistical nightmare if you have novices doing it. Regarding serve your self buffet, that is ok, but you will still need to hire people to make sure that the food is replenished, etc.

Post # 6
2494 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

@Vidya:  I’m being rude and only offering those options. I’m going for the idea that most people like chicken, and if they don’t… well… they’ll be plenty of food.

I also only have 50 guests. I guess that makes a difference too.


Also… you will likely want to hire someone to also run the bar/drinks and to clear dirty plates/cups (even if that is from a cart that people return their dishes to, rather than having someone collect them from a table).

Post # 7
9142 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

I personally wouldn’t want to be responsible for that much food for that many people when I am going to be focused on getting ready for the ceremony.  If you have a couple of friends or family members who wouldn’t mind helping out (ask around, do not order), then it could work out just fine.  Cooking for more than 20 people involves a lot of strategic timing to make sure everything that’s supposed to be hot stays hot and everything that’s supposed to be cold stays cold.

We have a tiny food budget ourselves and what we decided to do was order in bulk from a local BBQ place.  They include the chafing dishes, butane, and delivery for under $12 per person for food.  Another option we looked into was bulk orders of lasagna and chicken marsala from a local Italian restaurant (full trays that feed 20 people are only $40.)

Post # 8
1659 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

Wow, $3.75/lb?? The grocery store crap chicken is $3.99/lb on sale!!

If you want to source all of the ingredients yourself, I think hiring a private chef to prepare the food as well as a catering team to serve/replenish/clear would be the best way to go. I honestly don’t see this ending up much cheaper than traditional catering, but it would definitely be tastier. Would any of the chefs at your hotel be interested, or be able to refer you to someone who takes on events like this? 

(FWIW, my friend is in sales at a hotel and as a gift her Groomsmen gave her onsite catering at her venue, from the hotel for free πŸ™‚ maybe if you start asking around someone will cut you a deal!)

Post # 9
1917 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

You’ll definitely also want to make sure that your venue allows you to bring in food that is not from a licensed caterer with insurance.  Also do they have a kitchen for you to warm the food?  Will they allow you to cook on site?

I know it’s a great way to save costs, but that seems incredibly overwhelming.

Post # 12
3886 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

Most caterers are not going to use ingredients that do not come from their own suppliers.  There are a lot of legal and insurance implications that go with preparing and selling food, and unless the caterer already does business with the farmer, they’d be really unlikely to put their own name on the food that comes from this unfamiliar source.

If you really want to use the farmer’s chicken, you’d have to find not only your own staff to cook it, but a suitable kitchen or outdoor rotisserie. You need a LOT of space to prepare and store food for 100 people in a sanitary manner.  There are temp agencies where you can “rent” line cooks and kitchen prep workers for around $10-15/hour depending on their skill level and your area, but you’d still need your own recipes and somewhere for them to cook. 

If there’s a culinary school in your area, you might want to see if they do any catering or externships. Most culinary schools want their students to get some real-world experience before they graduate so you might be able to find a crew that knows enough about cooking to prepare a relatively simple meal like roast chicken, without breaking the bank.

Post # 14
803 posts
Busy bee

The pictures you provided look very nice, perhaps you could ask the farmers to put you in contact with the people who cooked the food for these dinners?

Post # 15
8431 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

For 100 covers of food you really need a commercial kitchen even if you are going for reheated grileld chicken- also reheating can dry food out. Does the kitchen have the right equipment for that? If not you are probably going to have to hire some because aside from the legalities that  @fishbone:  said there is also the issue of food safety. Food being stored at correct temperatures (both refridgeration and heating) so as not to promote bacteria (salmonella etc). Nothing says great wedding than 100 guests with food poisioning!

As a self caterer you would also be liable if anyone chooses to sue over something food related- chicken bone, broken tooth, food poisioning. There is a lot to consider when organising an event which is why most people got with an inclusive package. I organise events as part of my job and we have to complete a risk management plan for every event and you would be amazed at what the insurance companies can point out of possible risks. For example if you use electric warmers for food and are runnign power cable- is the venue’s wiring set up for that- what if it trips the wiring how will you keep the food warm/cook etc etc.

Sorry I hate to be pesimisstic but I think a lot of people go into this not knowing the risks. But that said a lot of people pull it off also!

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