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Hey guys,
I am doing a family member a favor and cooking for their daughter's wedding reception. I've done a little catering here and there nothing too big - till now. They have 320 RSVP's. I'd like for anyone who has good knowledge in this area to check over my estimates.
80lbs of Brisket
100 lbs. of Pork Butts
For sides I'm doing smoked baked Beans and a very simple spiral pasta salad. I am curious if I have enough meat and according to my catering excel program it says I only need 34.4 quarts of beans, does this sound correct? The program also states I need 36 pints of BBQ Sauce and around 500 buns. I'm struggling to figure how much dry spiral pasta salad I should purchase, it comes in 16 oz. packages. I'm really not nervous about doing this but I'd like to know I have enough food for the reception. Please any info would be greatly appreciated.
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The 80lbs is post cook meat rendered meaning you will need around 160 lbs of raw brisket at least. This is given that the portion control is watched carefully and 4oz per person is maintained.
Keep the same measurements 4 oz for portions on the pork and pasta salad. You should be fine but if make extra pork and have it in Foodsavers it's always a releif if you need it.
Also, I always like to serve some breads or cracker-based appetizers to keep the portioning more conservative.
I hope you have some help that's alot of slicing.
I'm no expert,but I'll toss out a couple thoughts,until Todd and some of the real caterers chime in.

A mixed crowd may call for 2/3 lb uncooked meat/person.

320 X 2/3 =about 210 lbs raw meat.

If 3 oz meat on a sandwich,180 lb raw= 90 lb cooked = around 500 sandwiches.

Usually one cup sides/person.

1/2 cup beans X 320 =160 cups=40 quarts.

One gal sauce seems to feed 100 people.

We just did 200 folks this week.

Many won't eat buns,unless you make sandwiches for them.

Seems like folks eat less beans ,and more salads,recently.

In the SE,they eat more pork than beef ,and pork is cheap and easier to hold.

If folks knew where you were cooking,it might make a difference.

Hope this helps a little,until the big dawgs chime in.
I live in Central Kansas. After rereading my original posts I should point out I plan on slicing some of the brisket and chopping the rest of the brisket. I'm doing whole briskets. The numbers I gave early for Brisket and Pork were for Raw amounts. That was according to the excel program I have. I can email this program to anyone who would like to see what I'm talking about. You enter your number of guests, how many meat choices, how many sides and it tells you how much of each to make, the meats give raw meat amounts, and portion options. However Pasta salad is not one of the options.
I own a FEC 100, I plan on cooking the Pork Butt's Thursday night Pulling those on Friday and then Start smoking the brisket around midnight on Friday night, and then I'll throw the beans in at noon on Saturday to be ready for that night's meal. The only thing I should have to reheat is the pulled pork I'm hoping. My mother in law owns a restaraunt with a huge walk in so I can store the meat there before. I also own two chafer dishes for the brisket during the day on Saturday and I have 4 Roasters for use as well. I'll go by Tom's numbers, but I'm just going to have to get a few extra pork butt's I think, I'm at capacity with the brisket. I can borrow my buddies smoker to do a couple extra pork butt's. I'd rather cook extra pork having to use his smoker being how it's pretty hard to mess one of those up. I'm still looking for any answers on how much dry spiral pasta I would need. I appreciate everyone's input here. Thanks
We used to go with 3/4 lb raw weight/person,if it was adults and no kids and were glad to have some leftovers-in case.

It seems like the 2/3 lb,has worked lately,in this hot weather.

I like the extra butts for price,holding,easy prep ,etc.

Like above,we like a few fillers.

Already cooked smoked sausage,only needs to glisten up in the FEC,slice into 1 in bites,and put out a couple bottled sauces.

Keeps the wolves at bay,gives you some filler time,cheap and easy.
Tom is right on his numbers. He jokes about not being a pro, but he's pro to the core.

Sides are hard to figure because people don't eat like they used to. I had a party this weekend that only ate about 20% of the beans I took, but ate slaw like they were cabbage farmers. Followed by a party the next day that had gone through all their beans with people still in line, but barely touched the slaw. They however hit the pasta salad pretty hard. Go figure.

As far as spiral pasta, first of all, Sam's sells this in 6# bags for about $5. 6# makes about 16 quarts, and I usually figure 6-8 servings per quart, so each bag will make 96-128 servings. I'd use the smaller serving size for your group, so three bags should do you. Your mother in law can also get the pasta in 10# boxes.

Sam's also has a pretty good Italian dressing in gallons for $7. Toss the pasta with some diced cukes(green) or broccoli, diced red onions(purple), diced red peppers(red) or grape tomatoes, sliced black olives, and some crumbled feta cheese and you have the makings of a cheap and colorful pasta salad. The Italian dressing is a little safer than a mayo based dressing.

DO NOT buy 500 hamburger buns unless you want to fatten up the birds. It is very unusual to average even one bun per person unless you're making the sandwich for them. For 320ppl, I'd go with ~250ish and still plan to have some left over.

If this is to be self serve, I'd go with 9" plates. This will cut down on folks that pile on the food then throw most of it away, but still allow for plenty of food. Then they can come back if they want to get more.

Do as Tom suggests and do a cheese and cracker tray with pickles and smoked sausage. This will serve the dual purpose of giving you some wiggle room as far as time is concerned, and also some wiggle room as to portion size. Do a BBQ dipping sauce, a peach(or pineapple) mustard sauce, and then some pretty hot straight mustard, maybe chipolte or chinese mustard. Everyone will be happy.

EDIT: Also, you might want to cook some chuck roll instead of brisket for the chopped portion of the beef. You'll get better yield since the roll doesn't have as much fat.
Last edited by Former Member

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