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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Gentlemen,

I turn 29 in January, and have decided to do something I have always longed to do: throw a formal dinner to mark the occasion! :icon_smile:


It will be a party of twelve--I will lease a private dining room in a formal hotel.


My questions are this:


The menu--


I plan on having:

Starter
Salad
Soup
Entree
Dessert
Cordials

--or, should it be Soup 2nd and Salard 3rd?


I'd like to serve sorbet before the entree to clear the palate, but did that die out with the state dinners that Edward VII had?


Last, how many servers should be required to serve a formal party of twelve?


Gentlemen, I thank you in advance for your informed responses.



--Chase
 

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--or, should it be Soup 2nd and Salard 3rd?
I've seen it done both ways; I'm not sure which is more traditional.

I'd like to serve sorbet before the entree to clear the palate, but did that die out with the state dinners that Edward VII had?
No, it's still done sometimes.

Last, how many servers should be required to serve a formal party of twelve?
I would think the hotel would decide that, in consultation with you based on the nature of your event. A more formal dinner would tend to have more servers, I suppose, but I would think 2 to 4 would be more than enough for 12 diners.
 

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Try the salad just before dessert. Though rarely executed, it is the traditional Italian way to go, and makes for great conversation! The Old World belief is that salad is a digestive aid and should be served near the end of a meal. Salud! Bill
 

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I wish I knew enough to help. However, congratulations and I hope your event is a success.

Will you require black tie or just ask men to do coat and tie?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Will you require black tie or just ask men to do coat and tie?
Oh, Black Tie, of course, forsberg! As I'm sure many of us would agree, half the fun of a formal event is dressing for the occasion! :icon_smile:

--Chase
 

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My wife and I entertain with formal dinners often. We did one in August and will do another in a few weeks.

Consider providing a light hors d'oeurves as people arrive. You will likely want guests to have a drink as they likely won't be seated until all are assembled, and the food helps with the alcohol as hopefully they will arrive with empty stomachs.

Consider a cheese course following dessert or as an alternative to dessert. We do both.

If you want to take it to the next level, consider a separate wine for each course that pairs well with the food. You can hopefully get recommendations from the restaurant or the sommelier, if there is one. At a minimum, a red and white should be offered, but then there's the complication of dry versus sweet, depending on the course.

I know it might not be to everyone's inclination, but we provide dump buckets for wine that is not finished after a course (to make way for the next wine). We do this as a matter of course, in that we have hobby jobs in a wine shop. The ladies especially avail themselves of this. A small pitcher of water is also provided to rinse the glasses. We plan on a bottle per course with a pour of around 2 oz., which you can get out of a standard 750 ml bottle (a normal wine serving is around 5 oz. We also keep a bottle of each type wine in reserve in case the pours don't work out or someone wants another serving.

Attire should correspond to the nature of the event. Consider the restaurant itself, the appointments (china, silverware, silver, linen), and the manner of serving (prepared plates, served from platters, or family style). The manner of serving will affect the number of wait staff. I'd say 1 or 2 for prepared plates, 2 for platter service, and 1 for family style.

Definitely do a sorbet. My wife did a mojito granite for August and will do a merlot one for the one upcoming.

I recognize that the above might not fit your model or budget, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Dining of this sort is really a diminished social form and art, whether for the host/hostess, guest, or wait staff. I appreciate your contributing to it. Congratulations and best wishes for the dinner.
 

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Definitely do a sorbet. My wife did a mojito granite for August and will do a merlot one for the one upcoming.
Care to share that merlot sorbet recipe?

To the original poster, Mr. Hamilton - I would recommend that you invite the hotel chef to participate in the menu planning process, especially if the hotel ordinarily delegates that responsibility to a banquet planner. A party of twelve presents a number of opportunities to go "off the menu" and is the perfect size for a chef to flex his or her creative muscle. I've been to a couple of dinner parties (one of which happened to by my 37th birthday dinner) where the chef was basically given carte blanche (within a pre-established budget) to create the evening's offerings. He actually worked the room himself, jotting down each guest's likes and dislikes, and prepared a number of individualized courses based around those preferences. Not only does every guest have a meal he or she is bound to savor, it generates a lot of entertainment for everyone. Even if you can't get that kind of service, I would have to believe that a chef would be flattered to be consulted directly (key word being consulted as opposed to instructed) about the evening's offerings and for all you know, you might wind up getting a lot more than you bargained for -- in a very positive way.
 

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Just my thought but I would host the event in a place other then a hotel. You might find that it is more economical and you can control the food via a catering. Pick a great setting like at an art or civic center and have a great person cater the event...I find most hotel food to be well hotel food and the cost is considerable.

Whatever you do I wish you the best.
 

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I don't mean to rain on your parade, but I find the idea of a catered and black-tie 29th birthday party ridiculous. Given the state our country and economy is in, can't you find a better use for your money?

But if you're going to do this, do it correctly.

I'd serve the salads after the main course - that, at least, is how I eat at home when my wife and I have western European, especially French, meals. When we go with Eastern fare, the salad is served with the meal.

You only have a salad before the main course at Ponderosa or the Olive Garden. May as well ask for a "bottomless" bowl and breadsticks.

You have, moreover, forgotten about the amuse bouche - but you should expect this if you work closely with a talented chef.

I spent my 29th birthday on a plane (after living in Greece for a year). I smoked a few cigarettes when I landed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, Pentheos, you spent your 29th birthday on a plane from Greece and then smoked a few cigarettes.

I plan to spend mine at a black tie dinner with eleven of my closest friends.

Vive la difference, I suppose.

Thanks for your insight re: menu--it seems I definitely need to place the salad after the main course, before dessert.

Kind Regards,

Chase
 

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Care to share that merlot sorbet recipe?
Mr. H.,

Because it is a recipe from a published cookbook, I sent it to you via PM.

Regards, Droog
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

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If you like, I can come and be the clumsy server that always shows up in Laurel and Hardy or Three Stooges shorts. (I'm assuming that I'm not invited because I don't own evening clothes and because you don't know me.)

Seriously, I hope you do this. It sounds like it could really be a memorable evening for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If you like, I can come and be the clumsy server that always shows up in Laurel and Hardy or Three Stooges shorts. (I'm assuming that I'm not invited because I don't own evening clothes and because you don't know me.)
forsberg, I have enjoyed interacting with you here very much and would love to meet you in person some day.

After looking over my options, I plan to host the dinner at the Ritz-Carlton. They have the exact formal setting that I seek. I ought to be able to post the various dishes I'm considering shortly.

Thanks for everybody's help! :icon_smile:

--Chase
 

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Chase,

Do keep us posted. I'm always interested in private black (or white) tie events so I can create/enhance my own. The Ritz-Carlton sounds like, well ... its the Ritz-Carlton, what else can be said? Quite exciting.

pbc
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
After consultation with my chef, here is the first draft of the menu for dinner:

Hors D'oeuvres: Miniature Beef Wellington with Truffle Bernaise Sauce

Amuse-Bouche: The chef is working on something for me

Starter: Seared Squab Breast and Roasted Leg, Sweet Potato Puree, Mango - Lime Sauce

Soup: Consomme of Duckling, Wild Mushroom Ravioli, Cognac

Intermezzo: White Grape and Champagne Sorbet

Main Dish: Veal Medallion Forestiere, Soft Basil Polenta, Madeira Mushroom Demi

Salad: Jicama Salad, Orange, Goat's Cheese, Watercress, Lime Stone Lettuce, Cilantro Vinaigrette

Dessert: Cinnamon Bavaroise with Poached Pear

Cheeses

Birthday Cake: Warm Chocolate Cake with Banana Compote Center, Creme Fraiche Sauce

All comments on this are welcomed.

--Chase
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
YUM!!!

Let me know if one of your guests needs a date! :icon_smile_big:
Well, one of the guests is a friend I preped with -- Pierce. Pierce is always looking for an escort. However, there are quite good reasons as to why he is always looking for an escort. ;)

Kind Regards,

Chase
 

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I disaprove of salad being before desert. I am with John Pinette, the comedian, on this one. Salad is a promissory note that food will soon arrive.
 
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