One of the things most people find daunting about hosting an event of their own is actually dealing with the final product – in ours and most peoples' cases, this is the food. Being Chefs for a while now, Remi and I are used to dealing with planning and ordering food in advance for guests, whose number we can only guesstimate at...
When it comes to planning an event, whether it's a pop-up restaurant, supperclub or even a dinner party at home, purchasing or knowing how much of everything you're going to buy is key (otherwise you'll leave yourself with leftovers for a month!). It is especially important for business because you want to make sure there is enough food for all your guests - and some extra in case of accidents, surprise guests or if people ask for seconds!
Starting to put a menu together can be a tricky task but most cooks look at the main course protein they want to use first, then build other ingredients and courses around that. Apart from being probably the most expensive ingredient on the plate, it is also the one that is the least forgiving when cooked wrong. If you're hosting an event, guests will quickly notice if you have under or overcooked your protein and so it is important for care to be taken with everything from firstly purchasing your proteins to seasoning them just before serving to guests. Before you can look at how much duck/chicken/pork etc. to buy, you need to know how much you're going to need to cook! This means looking at a portion size, and you have to think about how much your guests will eat, their expectations and what would make a balanced dish. Some chefs do this by feel, and some restaurants weigh out specific portion sizes for consistency.
Looking at the above dish (Creedy Carver Duck, poached pear, celeriac & potato hash, beet puree), as part of a three course menu with canapés, we chose to use half a duck breast. A duck breast is about 250g uncooked weight, or about 200g once the fat has rendered out and the meat is cooked. We have used half a duck breast here for balance in the dish but also because we have also given about 50-60g of confit duck leg meat (that golden, crispy triangle in the back). As you can see, if we had given the guest a whole duck breast, there would be too much protein on the plate, not only for the guest but for the balance and plating of the dish. By thinking about this in advance, you can easily work out how much food to buy. In this example, for 8 guests you'd only need 2 whole ducks, leaving plenty of confit duck leg meat for 8 portions and some sandwiches for a few days after. Knowing this you are in a much better place when you are down your butcher or fishmonger. On a side note if you are unsure about what size and weight your protein needs to be, you can easily ask your butcher or fishmonger to show you, for example, what a 150g salmon steak or 180g ribeye would look like. It need not be plucking a figure out of thin air no longer! A.