hazelchaz: (gif)
Recently, for Hanadoki Con, I provided the food for three parties.

On "Day Zero," Hanadoki Con was open to everyone, with badges or without. I was given a budget to host a Taco Party in the Chanticleer Room on the 9th floor, which is a fine place for a party. We served rice, black beans, pinto beans, soy chorizo, ground beef, what-should-have-been shredded beef, chicken mole, and chicken in barbecue sauce. The carnitas was not ready that night. We also had tortillas, taco shells, tortilla chips, sour cream, guacamole, chopped tomato and onion, hot sauce, and several kinds of salsa. Also an assortment of soft drinks, diet soda, and some pitchers of iced tea, orange juice and limeade.

If I were to do it all over again, I'd change a few things about how I handle it. I got the crockpots started about three hours later than I'd planned, which meant that we only had one of the six fillings available at a time, instead of a buffet of five meat options plus the vegetarian chorizo all at the same time. Since the soy chorizo was ready first, when we opened that was all we had and it went very quickly. The beef and chicken didn't cook long enough to shred by themselves, so I had to use a knife to cut up the chicken. And the pork wasn't really ready to eat until hours after we closed.

Because I was running late, I didn't do all the shopping myself; and I didn't correctly estimate how much of everything I'd need. (Lots more than I had bought.) We had about 30 lbs. of meat and chorizo; at 6 tacos per pound, that would be at least 180 tacos. If each taco takes a teaspoon of chopped tomato and a tablespoon of sour cream, that's almost a quart of tomato and 3 quarts of sour cream. And so forth...

Also they had various live program events going on from 8:00 pm to midnight, but no Hospitality of any kind. The Con Suite's hours didn't begin until Friday morning, so we were slammed with people who just wanted something, anything, to nosh on.

In an ideal world, I'd make these changes next time I try this.
  • Check in Wednesday night so as to have all day Thursday in town to do the shopping and prep.
  • Get a room to use as pantry-kitchen that's not the one I'm sleeping in. I usually get two beds; if we use a hotel room, one with just one bed would give us more room to work in.
  • Estimate quantities better.
  • Spend more, especially on drinks.
  • Make salsa from fresh ingredients. A typical recipe for salsa will make a gallon or so per batch, which is the sort of quantity that would be good.
  • Recruit three crews. At least one or two helpers per crew. Daytime prep, for two or three hours in the afternoon. The hour before and an hour or two into the party. Teardown, including dishwashing arrangements.
  • Buy more extra snacks for the random "con suite" crowd.
  • Have a mechanism in place for counting visitors, with or without badge. I.e. party stickers; ribbons won't do if badges are optional.
  • Skip the pitchers of drinks, unless they can be made more prominent, e.g. large urns.

Next: PB&J report.
hazelchaz: (gif)

Detailed notes and recipe links.

  • Small round 1.5 qt (Black), Soyrizo, 3 packages, divided. Need to use a larger size next time.
  • Small round 1.5 qt (Black), Cuban Black Beans, 2 cans. Need to use a larger size and fill it.
  • Small round 2 qt (White), Velveeta (2 lb.) and jar of salsa. If we ever do it again we need to stir it several times during the prep time. Better would be larger crock with nacho cheese sauce.
  • Medium oval 4.5 qt (Geoff's), Velveeta (2 lb.) and a can of chili. See above.
  • XL Oval 6 qt (silver), Carnitas, 9 lbs. of meat. Need more next time!
  • XL Oval 5.5 qt (black), Tex Mex Shredded Beef, 8 lbs.
  • XL Oblong 5 qt (white), Chicken, 8 lbs. This was too much meat, and the large amount of garlic powder and cumin actually caused it to cement together. Need to re-tool this recipe for large crockpots.
  • Large round 4.5 qt (blue), Ground Beef, 6 lb., using 3 packets of the Trader Joe's taco seasonings and 3 cans of diced tomatos.
  • Large round 4.5 qt (old blue), Chicken Mole, 7 lbs. of meat, 3 boxes of Rogelio Bueno brand Mole Poblano sauce. Probably should have used 2 boxes, and no more than 6 lbs. of cut-up chicken breasts. (Got a good price at "Sprouts" on the chicken.)
  • Large round 4.5 qt (green), Spicy Pork with Peanut Sauce, 3 lbs. of meat. Should have made a bigger batch, or just have lots of Carnitas on hand.
  • Medium round 3.5 qt (brown), BBQ Pork, 3 lbs. Used a bottle of barbecue sauce. It got too hot and melted through the slow cooker liner. I don't plan to repeat this next year.
  • Medium round 3.5 qt (orange), Teriyaki Chicken, 6 lbs. This was pushing the capacity of the pot, should have kept it to 5 lbs. Used the Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce/Marinade. Might use a different sauce if I repeat this one.
  • Shredded lettuce/salad -- got two bags at Sprouts of mostly-lettuce.
  • Also got a bag of shredded carrots.
  • Sour cream, 2 pints. Could have used another.
  • Green onions (Scallions), chopped.
  • Onion, chopped.
  • Tortilla shells, corn, 12.
  • Tortillas, 6-inch flour "fajita size," 192. I was using a rough guide of 4 tacos per lb. of meat. Next time I want to try a ratio of 6 to 1.
  • Tortilla chips, big bag from Costco. When we ran out of tortillas, these were handy. We had three serving dishes, so generally only one ended up empty at a time.
  • Cheese, shredded, 3 lbs. Used one serving dish, should have had two.
  • Rice, one batch from a 2-lb. bag. Should have bought more rice, should have had two rice cookers going.
  • Salsa, jar from Trader Joe's. Perhaps have more than one bottle.
  • Tapatio hot sauce. Actually went through half a bottle!
  • Guacamole. About 4 or 5 packages of prepared guacamole. We served it in a dish, but perhaps we should have just served it directly from the package it came in. And we needed more.
  • Freeze-Dried Jalapeños. I saw a jar of these at Sprouts, and was surprised how popular they were.
  • Moon Pies, box of assorted mini. Could easily have gone through two boxes.
  • Limes, 4, cut in wedges. Probably could have gone through twice as many.
  • Oranges, cut in wedges. Not popular.

Things we forgot to serve: chopped tomato, cilantro.

Should have had signs outside the room explaining what they would find inside the room. You can come back in line for seconds. Due to limited space, we ask you to move outside with your tacos and coffee. Yes it's all free, sponsored by Animé Los Angeles and Costume Camp; tips are gratefully accepted. If we've run out of something let us know, we have more taco fillings to bring out later. We'll be closed from time to time for cleaning and re-stocking, please bear with us...

hazelchaz: (gif)

Preliminary notes: We gave away 264 stickers to people coming through the door. Typically the line outside the door was about 22 people deep, it didn't extend all the way to the end of the hall.

9 o'clock meats were: Carnitas* (shredded pork), "Shredded" chicken (a recipe that needs to go in for re-tooling), and Tex Mex Shredded beef*. (*= recipe available.) We ran out of those a little before 10 o'clock, and because we didn't have any rice you couldn't even enjoy some sauce-soaked rice.

10 o'clock we put out: BBQ Pulled Pork (which was just a jar of sauce and a crockpot of meat), Chicken Mole (which was a Mole Poblano sauce and the cut-up chicken breast meat), and Ground Beef (using the Trader Joe's Taco Seasoning mix).

11 o'clock, we brought out the Spicy Pork with Peanut Sauce*, and the Teriyaki Chicken (which was meat with the Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce & Merinade). We ended at midnight with half a spoonful of chicken left.

We had tortillas and taco shells for 208 tacos but I know we had some losses due to breakage, we ran out of them between 10 and 11 I think; rice ran out by about 10 o'clock because we only had one batch. We had can-opener failure so we didn't re-stock the beans which ran out quickly, should have had a larger crockpot. We also should have had a larger crockpot for the Soyrizo so we could have started with all 36 oz. (In general, re-filling a crockpot is problematical.)

Cheese/nacho dips didn't work out well, next time we should just get a #10 can of nacho cheese sauce and try that.

The freeze-dried jalapeños were a surprise hit. We should have cut up 8 limes, not 4, and the oranges should have been just cut into quarters to make them obviously a side snack and not a garnish. I forgot to unpack the tomato and the cilantro, perhaps I should provide a checklist for the prep crew? We had other garnishes and toppings; the guacamole was quite a hit.

Simplified menu for next time: Instead of three kinds of pork, we'll just have plenty of Carnitas. The ground beef and the shredded beef are both tasty, so I might keep both of those; the Chicken Mole is a really big hit and dead easy. So for prep, I can pre-mix the two batches of spices, bring the commercial spice mix and the cans and boxes of pre-made sauces, tomatos and so forth. Forget the two kinds of cheese sauce, one thing of nacho cheese is fine (and it makes a huge amount).

The two packages of cut-up lettuce/salad mix were enough, likewise one bag of shredded carrots. 4 cans of Trader Joe's Cuban Black Beans may not be enough, suggest bumping up the crockpot size to at least Medium Round 3.5 qt and filling it with 6 cans. 3 Soyrizo may be enough, we should bring something to clean up spilled soy chorizo from the floor (and maybe a hand vac too).

Rice cooker+crockpot is more work than deploying two rice cookers, so we should just borrow a second rice cooker.

We had four or five guacamole packages and probably could have used more; either use a bigger serving bowl, or just put out the plastic containers and let people serve themselves directly from them.

There are probably never going to be enough Moon Pies, but we could have had two or three boxes. If we do something like this 9-12 thing, perhaps announce that we'll be closed for five minutes at 9:55 and 10:55 to do a little refreshing? And buy triple of certain items.

Label the donation jar "TIPS."

hazelchaz: (gif)
  1. Pork (Carnitas)
    Beef (Taco-seasoned ground beef)
    Chicken (Garlic/cumin)

  2. Soyrizo (veg. chorizo)
    Cuban black beans
    Cheese dip (Cheese/salsa)

  3. Fixings: tortillas, taco shells, tortilla chips, onions, scallions, cilantro, lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, hot sauces, salsas, orange slices, lime wedges.

  4. Thai Pork with Peanut sauce
    Pot Roast (beef)
    Teriyaki Chicken

  5. BBQ Pulled Pork
    Chicken Mole
    Tex Mex Shredded Beef
    Queso dip (Cheese/chili)

Allergy warnings: peanut, gluten, corn, soy, dairy, tyramines.

So what am I forgetting?

hazelchaz: (Default)
At Anime Conji 3, we served up about 50 or so hard-shell tacos, 36 soft tacos, and maybe 10 or 20 street-style corn-tortilla soft tacos. About 90 or 100 in all. But we went through almost all the meat that we'd brought for 160-200 tacos. Which means that I completely underestimated -- by a factor of 2 -- how much people would fill each taco, but I correctly gauged how much food overall would be needed.

Money-wise, though, we came within $11 of breaking even. For a net out-of-pocket expense of $11 for party food expenses, that's an absolutely amazing result.

And that's based on spending $176 on the food. We could have saved some money if we'd shopped around butchers a little more -- with 20+ lbs of meat, saving $1/lb. on one or two of the meat buys would have made the difference.

  • Seasoned ground beef, just shy of 6 lbs. worth. Made with the Trader Joe's taco seasoning and tomato sauces.
  • Chili Colorado (beef), bought about 6 lbs of meat.
  • Carnitas (shredded pork), bought 5.8 lbs of meat.
  • Chicken Mole, used 3 whole chickens from Costco's rotisserie. [livejournal.com profile] missmea was kind enough to pull most of the meat off of the bones for us. That went into a crockpot with three boxes of Rogelio Bueno's Mole Poblano.
  • Soy Chorizo, 24 oz., from Trader Joe's.

Other items:
  • Taco shells, Taco Bell brand (because they were on sale, $1.99/12.)
  • Soft taco size flour tortillas.
  • Street taco size corn tortillas, in a crockpot to warm them up (and as it turns out, overcook most of them).
  • Regular steamed white rice
  • Cuban-style black beans (from Trader Joe's, 4 or 5 cans I think)
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Chopped red onion
  • 2 lbs. shredded cheese - the "Mexican blend" from Stater Bros. I couldn't find any cheddar cheaper, so it made no sense to grate it myself.
  • 16 oz. sour cream
  • 4 limes, cut into 10 wedges each. (Thank you again, Maria!)
  • 10 bottles of Coca-Cola from Mexico, made with real sugar
  • Pint and half-pint bottled water, donated from my last picnic's leftovers

Mistakes were made. Specifically, I should have marked the Carnitas zip bag, so I could tell it from the zip bags of ground beef. Or, you know, mark all of the bags. I also should have remembered to put plastic liners in each crockpot -- I ended up having to wash out two at the end of the night because of forgetting this at the beginning.

A number of people took a big ol' flour tortilla and put a scoop of each filling...

I realized that some people were taking bigger ladlefulls than they may have intended. I have no problem if people want to take two small scoops, but what I saw was people taking one large scoop because that's what came up when they dipped it in the pot. I've bought some more wooden spoons, because I think they'll be better for scooping. And I could use more of them anyway.

Thanks are also due to Rebecca Rowan for loaning me a small crockpot. Having someone local loan me crockpots is handy. And Christian B. McGuire transported some of my party fixings, including the rice cooker and another crockpot, which eased my own transportation burden as well.


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Chaz Boston Baden

June 2017

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