1. When catering for a cocktail party allow between 12 – 15 ‘bites’ per person. E.g. one bite is a sausage roll, a meatball, etc.
2. Generally, the more people the larger the variety e.g for 10 people have a choice of 4 – 5 different snacks only.
3. For 50 people, it is possible to have a larger variety as there does not have to be one of everything for everyone.
4. Vary the snacks – use different food types with different colours and textures, shapes, temperature, degree of spicyness, richness and acidity according to the season. Consider the gender of the guests – men prefer more substantial snacks while women prefer low calorie, crisp and light snacks.
5. Make and freeze whatever you can in advance.
6. When displaying the food make sure the tables appear full. If the table is too large for the quantity of food, fill the table with props, such as leafy branches, fruit, vegetables, pottery pieces, baskets, etc.
7. Create different levels in the serving tables.
8. Have more platters with less food on each than fewer platters that are tightly packed. This creates the impression of more food.
9. Hot trays, covered with foil are useful for hot snacks. Place food directly on foil.
10. Food should circulate at a cocktail party – have a few waiters who can walk around with platters.
11. Never compromise on quality. Use the best, freshest ingredients and cost them in. People will pay for quality and come back for more.
12. Work in a neat and orderly manner – wash up as you work
13. Involve willing family members.
14. Make detailed lists of the foods you will be preparing – how much can be done in advance, one day ahead, two days ahead? List the platters and garnishes you intend using for the foods. Calculate approximate time allowances and ensure that you give yourself adequate time to finish, garnish and present.
15. Always ensure that you take photographs of the tables when it is laid. In that way you can put a portfolio together for a few clients.