Our catering experts best-kept secrets for your Turkey Day success

1. Planning for guests:

photo from Huffington Post

If you have ever hosted a party then you know that running out of food is a host’s worst fear. (Next to overcooking of course – the food has to be edible to run out of it!) Our catering experts have standards they follow when planning for their large parties and we are excited to share these secrets:

An average person can eat one pound of food. Count the number of guests you expect and prepare for:

  • 4 oz starch, 4 oz vegetable and 6-8 oz protein for each guest
  • allocate an extra 1 oz of each for good measure or for that surprise party crasher

PROTEIN NOTE: To get 8 oz of protein you need to start with a pound of bone in bird, so roughly one pound per person is a good guide. (i.e. 15 guests = 15lb Turkey)

2. Preparing Before The Big Day:

A prep cook is a chef’s best friend. However, if the rest of the family is too busy watching football and you can’t find a helper, we have a few suggestions that will help you set yourself up for success and run your kitchen “assembly style” on Thanksgiving Day – just like those 5 star restaurants.

Prepping Time Frame:

  • Turkey: should be thawed 3 days out, marinated and/or brined the day before, and roasted day of – rule of thumb: 30 minutes/lb of turkey
  • Vegetables: can be prepared 1-2 days before and cooked day-of
  • Casseroles: can be assembled the day before and popped in the oven the day of (do not bake it the day before and reheat)
  • Stuffing: is better if it is put together the day before (and left overnight to marinate) then baked day-of (do not bake it the day before and reheat)

Dishes we advise NOT to be prepared before hand:

  • Mashed potatoes/potatoes: need to be prepared and cooked same day
  • Salad: same day – lettuce will get soggy and wilt if prepped with
  • Rolls/breads: can be warmed while you go around and say what you are thankful for at the table

3. Offer Football Finger Foods

Give yourself a little cushion with time and offer options that can be served at room temperature before the main course.  We suggest:

  • A charcuterie (meats and cheese) plate – best served after sitting room temperate for 2 hours
  • Dips – can be made 3 days in advanced and simply put out when the football game starts – serve with something crunchy (think artichoke spinach dip with pretzel chips)

4. There’s Nothing Wrong With A Few Games… Mind Games that is… Muahaha:

Humans use all of their senses when it comes to eating.  A full plate is psychologically converted – with your sense of sight – into a full stomach before a bite is consumed.  Offer smaller plates (8”-10” in diameter) so when guests fill their plate they will feel satisfied with their meal before the meal even begins. This will also assure that they won’t empty the table the first time around and you will have enough for seconds.


Here are a few of our caterers favorite recipes!

Black Fig & Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

Served with Meats, Poultry or Salads


2 cups

Balsamic Vinegar

1 cup

Dried Black Mission Figs, stems cut

1 qt

Olive Oil

1/2 t


1 t

Black cracked Pepper

2 cups

Walnut Oil

1 oz

Minced Fresh Tarragon

2 oz

Minced Fresh Chives



  1. Puree vinegar & figs.
  2. Whisk in olive oil, salt, pepper, walnut oil, tarragon & chives.

Yield:  2 quart

Artichoke Bottoms Stuffed with Spinach



1 pound

Fresh spinach, washed, stemmed

2 cups

Boiling water



1 T.


1/8 t.


½ cup

Béchamel sauce (below)

1 ea.

Egg yolk

1 T.


6 ea.

Cooked artichoke bottoms

6 t.

Grated parmesan

Bechamel (yield – 2 cups):


2 oz.


2 oz.

AP flour

2 cups


2 T.

Grated Parmesan



Preheat oven to 400.

For béchamel:  melt butter in sauce pot.  Whisk in flour and mix well.  Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, stirring often.  Slowly whisk in milk until smooth.  Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Remove from heat and add parmesan.

Cook spinach in boiling, salted water, 1 minute.  Drain well, pressing to remove all moisture.  Chop finely.

Melt butter in skillet.  Add spinach, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated.  Combine béchamel with egg yolk and cream.  Add spinach.  Continue cooking until just simmering, stirring constantly.  Do Not Boil!

Arrange artichoke bottoms in baking dish and fill with spinach.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake 10 minutes or until nicely glazed.  (Or broil to brown lightly.)

Yield:  6


Sweet Potato Pie


1 9’ pie shell

1/2 C

6 Tbsp

1/4 C


1 tsp

1/3 C

1 tsp

1/2 tsp

UncookedChopped PecansSoftened butterHeavy cream

Beaten eggs






Preheat oven to 475°F. Spread pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell. Bake 5 min. Cool. Lower heat to 300°F.

Mash together potatoes and butter until smooth. Add all other ingredients and blend well. Pour into pie shell.

3 T melted butter

2/3 c pecans finely chopped

½ c brown sugar

1/3 c flour

Combine all ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle over top of pie. Put the pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown

Yield: one 9inch pie



*Photo from Huffington Post