Sunday, December 16, 2007

Plating for a Crowd

I was reminded last night that the obvious way to do things isn't always obvious to other people. For instance, if you have to plate dinner for 20 people, you can do it one plate at a time, giving the server a nice 2-3 minute break between trips to the tables and letting the food cool off before it is eaten. Or you can plate entire tables' worth at once, ensuring that all the food is still warm when the last person gets theirs.

Plating for a table is actually easier than plating individually, especially if the kitchen you are working in has expansive countertops. You lay out 8 plates, deal out a pork chop to each plate, then get the potato pan and spoon out a portion on each plate, and follow with the pan of apples. In the meantime, the server puts a roll and two pats of butter on the plate, where you indicate. At the last minute, you start putting 4 asparagus and a dollop of hollandaise on each plate, just before the server takes them. In this way, 8 plates can go out in about two minutes, instead of 10 minutes, even if the server takes the time to serve the ladies first. The second table's plates can be put together while the first table is being served, and everyone can eat quickly.

When serving at a family event with young children, it also helps to figure out if there are any special plating instructions - like small portions - before you start putting food on the plates. (But I suppose it is unrealistic to expect young adults to have mommy experience.)

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