Thursday, 24 January 2008

Catering on a Low Budget

I do all my own catering on set and it has taken me some time to know what feeds a band of cast and crew on a limited budget. The reason I do my own catering is because cooking is therapeutic for me, and pre-shoot stress is often soothed by the calming collision of comestibles.

Cast and crew really eat, and eat in abundance, so having a good quantity of food is essential to any well oiled film team. Several platters I find best works, a mix of carbohydrate charged dishes as well as separate platters of fruit or salad. If you have any space in the kitchen, it is a good idea to stock up on bulk items such as rice, pasta, coffee, tea, whenever you come across them at bargain prices. These kind of items last a long time, so if you collect them through-out time, when it comes to any shoot date you are always prepared. Nothing sucks more then when you've arrived at shooting and you blow too much budget on ordering pizzas or shouting them all takeaway.

So I have a "Film Shoot Larder" where I now keep all these cheap bulk goods, ready for upcoming shoots, you can never be over prepared.

The choice of recipes I use are thought upon quite specifically for the day. I try and meet people's dietry requirements, and it is always a good idea to check all cast and crew members about their diet. You might have a shit hot cinamatographer who happens to be a Breatherian and in that case you want crates of McDonald's burgers and Coke to keep him/her happy, but cheaper then that, just a sack full of sugar should do.

Risotto because Aborio rice is particularly filling, it is like the porridge of the rice world. A cheap and easy Risotto is tuna and asparagus, forget fresh asparagus, just get four or five cans of offcuts. It was I will tell you, fresh when they put it in the can.

Pesto Pasta, which is just buckets of pasta mixed with a few jars of Basil Pesto and some Pine Nuts. If you are making pasta don't use any spaghetti because you'll end up having cast with flicks of Pasta sauce all over their costumes and faces. Stick to Penne or Conchiglie (shells).

Portuguese Chicken where the simple recipe can be found here, buying chicken in bulk is so cheap, excuse that obvious pun, that a couple of trays of drumsticks or wings will feed twenty people no worries. Don't forget napkins when serving up finger food, a big ring of greasy sauce around the aperture will not impress your equipment hire company, that of you can be certain.

Salads, you don't have to be able to boil an egg to toss a salad - the only thing with salads is to be careful, not to prepare them too early otherwise you'll loose the crispiness of the lettuce, the alternative is to make up a "dry" salad without any dressing, make up some dressing in a jar (olive oil which if you crush some garlic into and let ripen, then strain keeping just the oil will add heightened flavours, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper - shaken not stirred) and pour it on at lunch time on the day of shooting, you can't go wrong.

Bread, always available day old bread very inexpensive and guaranteed no one will know the difference of a day or two in freshness. Instead of butter try preparing a Bruschetta (olive oil and garlic and topped with diced tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper) mix in a separate bowl that the film team can sprinkle on top of their bread to liven it up and buffer their bellies.

Foods I would stay clear of are corn cobs, not good for asking actors to pick their teeth after eating, hot or cold chips because although potato has a high carbohydrate content, hot chips tend to be a "heavy" meal and the amount of sodium (salt) is just unhealthy and not deserving of a cast and crew that should be kept primed. Do not just dish out fast food, although your crew members might have a daily diet of Coke and Pizza at home, the film set is a professional environment and a business regardless of budget. Aside from being over the top expensive for what you get, high sugar levels are not good for people.


Peter said...

Hey, Thanks for this great tip. Its really a magnificent information.

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Rupert said...

Thanks Peter, hope you guys have fun watering the mouths of actors and film crews :)


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karina said...

Excellent read. I like your style...have a good one!/Nice blog! Keep it up!

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Morton Halden said...

It is nice information on low budget catering. This tips makes catering low more easier for middle class peoples.

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Feed me, Seymour!

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