When you have your recipes selected. Make a
trial run of all of them. You need to know how long preparation for each
How many people are you
going to be serving? Take the number the recipe serves and multiply it to
get the number of times you will be making that specific recipe. Now,
multiply each of the ingredients and their quantities to get the total
quantity of each ingredient for your shopping list.
Do this for each recipe.
Now, sit down and figure
out which recipes can be made ahead of time, a day, or a week, and which
must be made that day. Desserts like pies and pudding served cold, and bread
can be made before the day of the feast. Meats must be cooked the day of,
but can be partially cooked or parboiled (as in chicken) a day or two
before. This will help prevent you from serving undercooked or raw meats and
When are you serving feast?
Is everything being served at once? Or are you doing multiple courses? If
multiple courses, which ones must come out of the oven to be served first?
Which recipes are served last. Do you have enough stove and oven space to
cook what needs to be cooked and served when it needs to be served?
For example: You are
serving a hot pie, beef roast, and an apple tart all in one course. Do you
have enough oven space for all of these dishes at once? If not, you need to
rearrange your recipes into a different order. I try to have only one baked
item per course, and one or two stove top items per course, and one cold or
room temp. item per course. This means that my ovens will not be over loaded
and I won't be serving something half cooked, because I overloaded the
Next, are you putting the
items that need the longest baking time in an earlier course, and the ones
that need the least or a short amount of baking time in a later course? You
don't want to plan on taking your ember pie (1/2 hour cooking time) out for
the first course, and then put in your roast which requires two hours of
cooking time for the third course. No one, including you will want to wait
two hours between courses. So, again, rearrange your recipes, so that the
more time-intensive in the oven goes into the early course, while the least
time-intensive in the oven goes into a later course.
Once you have all that
done, now build your schedule. What needs to be prepared in what order to be
ready at a specified time to serve. Plan your entire day this way. Early in
the day, have helpers cutting up the vegetables or fruit for pies and beef
stocks, or grating the cheeses, or making the pie crusts needed. Then later,
plan on putting the recipes together, the times they should go into the oven
in order to be done on time, or start cooking on top of the stove to be done
on time. Add the prep time for each recipe and add that into your schedule.
For example: My pork pie needs to be done at 6:30, it takes 1 hour to cook,
and 45 minutes to prepare. After adding in some slop time, my schedule just
for this one recipe reads like this: At 4:00 prepare crust for pork pie. At
4:30 start preparing the pork pies. Pork pies go into the oven at 5:15
(allow for a slow or overwhelmed oven). Pull out of oven at 6:25, serve at
6:30. You need to do this for each and every recipe you are going to serve.
Once you have this schedule
made up, make multiple copies and multiple copies of the recipes and post
them in multiple places all over the kitchen. You want everyone to know what
the schedule is, and you want everyone to know what the recipes are. Believe
me, this is one detail you really don't want to overlook. You never know
what will happen - you could fall and break an ankle, and then who would run
the show in your place? Make sure you give at least one copy to one other
person going to the event early in the day, not traveling in the same
vehicle as you (car accidents are just too easy). You want this feast to go
on without you if for some reason you can't make it or you get injured.
Having schedules posted
also allows your help to figure out if they need to be working harder, or if
they have time to slack off and have a little fun. It also frees you up a
bit from having to make more decisions on the day of than are necessary. You
will have so many people asking you questions all day long, it will be nice
to have a no-brainer answer for some of them such as "Well, let's take a
look at what the schedule says." You are going to be very tired by the time
the time it comes to actually beginning serving the feast. Eliminating some
of the questions, and decisions, by good preplanning, helps tremendously.
Another plus to schedules -
you can move the whole thing forward or set it back without a lot of fuss
and bother if informed an hour or so ahead of time in order to accommodate
court or another activities