Mass Production Cooking/Stock Pots

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Question
Dear Chef,
My husband and I will be making our public cooking debut at a very large event in three weeks. We have been told to expect about 1000 customers or more each day, for 3 days, over a 12 hour span (festival runs from 11am to 11pm). That said, the food vendors are usually very busy.
One of the three menu items we have is a soup- which I plan to have about 600 servings of the first day-
I'm pretty sure I want to invest in a large stainless steel stock pot over an aluminum one- for quality and because our soup and cooking generally utilizes acidic ingredients like tomato and tomatillo.
However, I am intimidated by the sizing and pricing. A 100 quart pot could make life much easier at a hectic festival, but it could be cumbersome too. Perhaps a 60 quart pot could be better utilized and have more crossover into our life at home- easier to store....
At this point there are a lot of unknowns as we have never done this festival before!
Any thoughts you have will be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for having this site.
Sincerely,
Lila in Tucson

Answer
Hi Lila!
My apologies for taking so long to answer, I did not receive an alert from AllExperts.

My suggestion would be to batch cook (or warm) the soup.  I'd make all the soup you need and then chill it into 5 gallon "cambro" containers.  It's easier to keep something cold and safe than hot and safe.

Then, I'd have 4 portable butane burners or two large stand-type burners (like people fry turkeys in) and warm the soup in 3-5 gallon batches.

It will take a lot longer to warm a 100 quart pot than 4 25 quart pots.  Have smaller pots but more of them to be able to constantly turn product from cold to warm.

Make sure your portioning is correct and you've done the math about how many people you can feed for the number of portions. If you're serving 4 fluid ounces of soup to each of 1000 people, that's 4000 ounces or 31.25 gallons. I'd add at least 10% to each day and assume you need to bring close to 40 gallons to be safe each day.

Then, remember you have an AWESOME responsibility to assure the safety of the food and the personal hygiene of the servers.

Good luck at your event!

Chef Todd Mohr, CCE  

Mass Production Cooking

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Chef Todd Mohr. CCE

Expertise

I'd be glad to answer your questions about how basic cooking methods apply equally to cooking for two in your home, or 1000 for an event. Please don't ask me how much to order from the caterer or deli. That's up to them to consult you on. If you are doing the actual cooking, I can help. My expertise is in cooking for more than 100 people. Your questions concerning cooking methods, amount to purchase, portioning, strategies for food service, and food safety for large production are welcomed. There are plenty of recipe websites on the internet. Please don't ask me for recipes. I don't believe in written instructions for cooking anyway. The more information you give while asking your question, the better response I can give. "How do I feed 100 people at my daughter's wedding?" is too broad of a question. "If I plan to offer chicken and beef for 100 people, how much chicken should I purchase?" is a better question. Visit my website at http://www.WebCookingClasses.com LIKE ChefToddMohr on Facebook Subscribe to ChefToddMohr on YouTube

Experience

I'm certified by the American Culinary Federation as a Certified Culinary Educator. I'm currently a Chef Instructor at three different culinary schools in Baltimore, Maryland. Previously an Executive Chef at a large hospital, feeding 3000 people three times daily over 8 different menus. Also a Chef at The National Security Agency in Washington, DC, part of a team feeding 15,000 people twice daily. Then, General Manager/Executive Chef of various Business Dining Cafeterias, feeding thousands daily. My catering company has hosted many large events, feeding up to 1000 people.

Organizations
American Culinary Federation

Publications
Learn to cook like a chef at home in 16 weeks guaranteed. Visit http://www.WebCookingClasses.com Visit my blog at http://www.WebCookingClasses.com/blog Subscribe to my latest videos on YouTube. Find ChefToddMohr I am a featured author at Ezine Articles. Search YouTube for "ChefToddMohr" for my sillier side.

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Arts, Long Island University Associate of Arts, Baltimore International Culinary College

Awards and Honors
Certified Culinary Educator (ACF)

Past/Present Clients
My catering company has had many of the nations largest companies as clients.

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