Cooking for 60 people. Yes SIXTY! And the White on Rice couple

May 13, 2008

Some may have noticed that this funky Englishman hasn’t been posting that much recently. There is a reason for it, Danika and I were planning a surprise Birthday party for her dad. Well, it was honestly more her than I for most of it – but I did do my bit for food of course!

I wanted to post something earlier – asking people for advice about what to cook, however I didn’t want to screw anything up, because apparently he does check this blog out every now and again.

So I have never cooked for 60 people. I think 16 is the most, and that was more a dinner party thing. I can honestly say that I don’t entirely recommend trying to crank out food for 60 people in a small kitchen with only 3 people making the food. When we were planning it I should have realized it was a bloody stupid idea, however we just got caught up in things.

So, I started thinking about what to make. Spring rolls came to mind. They are tasty, simple (haha), and generally cheap to make. The idea of making 60 of the little buggers however didn’t fill me with joy. When I did that post on spring rolls a while ago, it took me about 2 hours to make 15 of them – albeit with photographing too.

Step in the White on Rice Couple. I lovely couple of food bloggers from sunny California. I have been a fan of their blog for a while now – they do awesome work with fresh local ingredients, take great photos, and write a decent tale. In short, these guys are bloody awesome. She is from Vietnam, and knows a thing or two about spring rolls. I casually emailed them one day to ask if they had any advice on rolling them. What ended up was a week long discussion over email about technique, right down to what brand of wrapper to use. In the end they made me an awesome little video showing a great technique on how to roll these buggers FAST. White on Rice – A HUGE THANKYOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Things didn’t get off to a good start with setting up the party. We ended up getting to venue (Danika’s parents house – they were away) well late – but did manage to set up the tents, tables, chairs and some lighting. We eventually got home, cooked dinner, got Drake to sleep – and started cooking for the party at…. 9pm. That was silly. Really bloody silly.

It all started with glazed carrots. We had decided to do that carrot radish salad I blogged about a couple of posts ago.. for 60 people. Danika and her brother started slicing the carrots, and I started glazing. The first batch of carrots came off perfect – care and attention is needed with glazing, and these little orange wonders got just that. I have no shame in saying that the batch of carrots I was glazing at 1:30am didn’t receive the same care and attention, and I certainly wasn’t calling them "little orange wonders".. I was more like "little orange wankers".

Yes, we up to the wee hours making the food. But it was actually kind of a laugh. We had a bottle of wine open, Stereophonics blaring out on the radio, and smiles on our faces – for most of it!

The party was a hit, I have to say. Most of their family is from Montana, and are very much meat and veg kind of people. The food went down well… but we did get some interesting comments on the spring rolls:

"have you tried them yet? I asked one relative "no, I wasn’t brave enough – I let someone else try them though"

"what is that on the outside of them, it looks like plastic?" (meaning the wrapper)

"do you eat the wrapper?"

OK.. so maybe spring rolls were a little much for them. I tell ya what though, only a few were left over.

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  • Peter G May 13, 2008 at 5:22 am

    My oh my! 60 sounds like a lot! But your story sounded funny because like you said, you were having fun and thats the best it. LOL @ “little orange wankers!”.

  • White On Rice Couple May 13, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Welcome to the world of cooking for over 50!! We’ve also created a system to crank out food for parties of over 50. That’ll be a separate video for you if you need it! 😉 Sounds like you guys had a great time and really introduced them to some new stuff. “Meat & Veg” people need that little kick in the booty to try something new!

    Lol! If springrolls scared them, I wonder what a stuffed squid with the tentacles on would do to them. They’d probably starve at the party!

    How many did you guys end up rolling? Did the system work for you guys? Thanks for the kind words about the WORC, guys. You guys are a dynamite duo and are probably the one and ONLY Englishman/Montana couple out there that can crank out rolls for over 60 people! Great job!

  • Brittany May 13, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Congrats on the success of your party!
    …”little orange wankers” gave me the immediate mental image of oompa loompas making carrot/radish salad in the nude. That ones gonna haunt me.

  • matt wright May 13, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Brittany – that is a really disturbing image! thanks for that!! lol

    Yeah – the meat and veg people do need a kick up the bottom foodwise! I really wasn’t expecting those kinds of comments from them – I guess I figured everyone has seen a spring roll by now! Kinda funny when you think about it – they have no problem shooting a cow, gutting it themselves, cleaning and hanging the meat – but are put off by the sight of a spring roll 😀

  • Christie @ fig&cherry May 15, 2008 at 4:38 am

    Haha, plastic – that’s hilarious! Great post and congrats on that massive achievement. I hope you put your feet up for a bit now… 🙂

  • Judy May 15, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Cooking for 60 people??? Wow. Congrats to you guys!

  • Maggie May 16, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    60 people and just two of you cooking, I’m impressed!

  • Niamh May 21, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Sounds great! I also love the White on Rice Couple blog. Cooking for such large numbers is intimidating but I’d love to give it a go 🙂

  • matt wright May 21, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Niamh – I can honestly say that I don’t recommend it 😀 Well, that isn’t quite true – it really depends on who you are cooking for. It is fun trying to come up with creative food for that many people – but we were pretty restricted.

    If you do ever decide to do it – talk to the pros (white on rice). Get advice from people that have done this, and done it well. It really just came down to planning – making sure you had everything ready, some kind of game plan and the people you need to pull it off. Oh – and allow twice as much time as you think. At least twice as much. And have a second fridge ready too.. We were lucky, we still have our old fridge from the renovation sitting in the gararge. We plugged that piece of crap in to keep the big containers of food cold.