Hot Foods For Buffets

Everything we have learned about the preparation and holding of hot foods in quantity applies to hot foods for buffets. Hot items are nearly always served from chafing dishes, which may be ornate silver affairs or simple steam table pans kept warm over hot water.These foods cannot be elaborately decorated and garnished the way cold foods can. On the other hand, the bright, fresh, juicy appearance and good aroma of properly cooked hot food is generally sufficient to arouse appetites.

Hot foods for chafing dishes should be easily portioned (such as vegetables served with a kitchen spoon) or already portioned in the pan (braised pork chops, sliced baked ham, and poached fish fillets,for example). Items less suitable for buffets are those that must be cooked to order and served immediately, such as most broiled and deep-fried foods.

Whole roasts are popular items at buffets, carved to order by a member of the kitchen staff. Especially attractive are large roasts such as hams, turkeys, and large cuts of beef such as steamship round.

As previously noted, hot foods are best placed at the end of the buffet so they do not cool on the guests' plates before they are seated and so the decorated cold foods can steal the show.

One type of cheese and fruit presentation for buffet service.


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1. Discuss the idea of professionalism and how it applies to the presentation of food.

2. Following are several popular food combinations. Describe what plating problems they present, if any, and how you might efficiently and economically solve them.

Fish and chips (deep-fried fillets and French fries)

Prime rib of beef and baked potato

Meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy

Open-faced hot turkey sandwich

Beef stroganoff and egg noodles

Chicken à la king in a patty shell

3. What is meant by plating food for the convenience of the customer, and how does this affect other rules of plating?

4. What is the difference between a cocktail buffet and a luncheon or dinner buffet?

5. Customers like to see a lot of food on a buffet. Is it correct to say, then, that the best way to please customers is to put out as much food as possible? Explain your answer.

6. When you are preparing a cold buffet platter, why is it a good idea to plan ahead by making a sketch? What would you include in the sketch? What do the terms movement and focal point mean in platter design?

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