A church multi-purpose room full of people eating. 150 people.
The cook, who thinks there will only be 2 people helping to clean up, is already back in the kitchen trying to organize the dirty hotel pans, cooking sheets, stock pots, cooking ladles, spoons and spiders.
Suddenly someone hails her through the dirty dish window. It's the Good Doctor, aka Dr. Whiney, red-faced, sweaty, and breathing hard. "Holy Crap," he said. "That's a lot of people out there!"
He appeared, because the church is located on one of the only flat roads here in Raleigh. It's a favored jogging path by those who punish their bodies that way. Four miles of sidewalk (also another rarity in this town) to run up and down. (round trip)
I was glad to see him, but kind of stunned. It's not like I haven't SAID how many people I cook for weekly. Later, when I got home I gave him a call. "What have you been thinking when I say, 'I'm cooking for 150-200 people'?", I asked him.
Apparently HEARING and SEEING are two different things. So here's some visuals for you.
We have 5 rows of 2 8-foot long trestle tables set up for people to eat at.
We have 3 8-foot long tables set up for the salad bar (over 15 items)
We have 2 8-foot long tables set up for the dessert table
and 1 8-foot long table set up for the "kids" menu.
A hotel pan is 19 1/2 inches long x 11 1/2 inches wide.
The come in 3 depths.
"shallow" 1 inch deep
"medium" 2 1/2 inches deep
"deep" at 4 inches
In terms of visualizing this - think of an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. A hotel pan is almost twice as long as that piece of paper, and as wide as the 11 inch length of the paper.
Capacity is measured in terms of liquid quantity, or quarts (which isn't too useful for visualization), so I'll turn it into gallons for you. (Think of milk).
Shallow = 2 gallons
Medium = 3 1/2 gallons
Deep = 5.25 gallons
It's difficult to determine the fill weight of these pans - because different things weight different amounts (d'uh). But this will give you an idea.
A shallow pan filled only with water weighs almost 17 lbs. (1 gallon of water = 8.35 lbs)
I often work with medium pans. So that's 30 lbs per pan.
Here's what I cooked last night:
4 shallow pans of rice = < 17 lbs each (I think I was using about 2 1/2 lbs of rice per pan, before cooking).
Three of those shallow pans of rice were turned into medium sized pans of "Not-so-Dirty" Rice (I left out the chicken livers, but added sliced smoked andouille sausage). A completed pan was close to 40 pounds. Also figured to be about 30 servings per pan.
We had Canjun Sweet Potatoes. That was 40 lbs of sweet potatoes peeled and sliced into French fry-like sticks. There were three medium hotel pans - after we used bun pans to roast them. A bun pan is a HUGE (25 3/4 inches x 17 3/4 inch) cookie sheet. With nothing on them they weigh about 4 lbs each. We used about 8-10 to roast off the fries.
Next up were the smothered greens. They finally cooked down into 2 medium hotel pans. Again 20+ pounds and 45 servings per pan.
Dessert was Peach Upside-down Cake. 5 shallow hotel pans. Easily 25 lbs and 24 servings per pan.
Then there was the children's meal. 92 pieces of chicken nuggets (3 bun pans) (children under 10 yrs) and 38 breaded chicken tenders (2 bun pans) (youth - 10 years and older). Plus one shallow hotel pan of plain rice and 1 shallow hotel pan of sweet potatoes cooked with brown sugar and marshmallows *shudder*.
In total I cooked for 100 adults and 38 children, so slightly less than 150 people.
Got the picture?