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Guidance for Catering at Chilbolton Village Hall

posted 15 Mar 2009, 12:10 by Chilbolton Players

By Pam Mason.
Chilbolton Players events are generally set up to entertain & cater for tables of 8 people – generally a maximum of 10 tables per performance. Normal practice is for the food to be served to the tables.
NOTE: Do not consider serving from the kitchen hatch – it is out of use when the stage is set up.
  • Plan to serve food per table, i.e. in multiples of 8. This makes it easier to calculate the quantity of food required.
  • Keep the food as simple as possible. Either dishes that cook quickly, or can be prepared off-site & brought hot to the hall on the night.
  • Ensure you have a vegetarian alternative – and over-cater, as someone is bound to forget to tell the Box Office!
  • ASSUME kitchen has no equipment other than crockery & cutlery; take your own cooking pans & utensils. There are serving dishes, but check there are sufficient.
  • It is almost certain, if you are serving a hot meal, that you will need further equipment to keep the food warm. Either two hostess trolleys (Jennie Pope has one), or ask Julie Connor if her Rubbermaid is available. This is a free-standing insulated cabinet that will keep food hot for up to an hour.
  • Cooker – although fairly efficient, both ovens are only standard size & have a total of 5 shelves between them, plus the oven bottoms. The warming drawer is very small. The hobs are also a bit slow to heat up.
  • It is very useful to have a long table in the kitchen – for serving, placing dirty dishes, etc. This is in addition to the stainless steel worktable in the kitchen.
NOTE: that re-heating food from cold for 80 people is not feasible, unless it can be done on the hobs. There is just not enough oven space for more than 6-7 dishes in one go.
NOTE: that the crockery cupboard is kept locked – you will need to borrow the key from Chris Halliwell (Hall bookings lady).
  • Three to four people will be required in the kitchen for the duration of the evening.
  • In addition, 4 - 5 servers to take the food to the tables. Allocate the servers their tables in advance, so that they have some idea of where they are heading with the food!
On the night:
Pre-lay tables with dinner plates & serving spoons – this will save valuable time later. The guests will help themselves from dishes served to the table by the servers.
Ensure each helper is assigned their kitchen tasks for the evening; draw up a table plan & allocate tables to the servers. Although this may change once serving is under way, it is useful initially if only to give them confidence that you have everything under control!
Agree a time for serving food. Discuss with kitchen & serving staff how to manage the serving; it will become very hectic, so it is vital that everyone knows what they will be doing at this time.
After the meal:
Have washers-up ready for when the dirty plates are returned – once the performance re-starts, you will not be able to make a noise in the kitchen. Try & clear up as much as possible as the meal is in progress, otherwise, you will be clearing up well past the end of the evening’s entertainment!
Make it clear to the Players that the kitchen is out of bounds during the interval – you don’t need the distraction. Tea / coffee etc. can be served to them via Thermos jugs. Make sure that someone has arranged to do the Players’ refreshments in the interval.

Notes on Running the Box Office

posted 15 Mar 2009, 12:08 by Chilbolton Players

These are intended as a guide only!
  • Need the green box file from the unit - or similar – to use as a storage base.
  • Design and print the tickets. It is useful to have different coloured tickets for the different performances. It makes life easier if these are numbered.
  • Where people are sitting at tables for a production it is useful to have a numbered list so that when people book you can list their names down immediately and match them to the number of their ticket.
  • Have a seating plan. For something like a pantomime or a play this is relatively easy as the producer/director decides the number of rows and how many in a row etc. 
  • For productions where a meal is being served things are a little more complicated. It is often difficult to finalise seating until the very last minute. This is because the seating is usually in groups of 8 around a table. Not everyone books a whole table, some book more than 8 seats and want everyone to sit at adjacent tables, often there are odd numbers to accommodate as well as cancellations etc. etc.
  • .It is helpful to have a couple of copies of the final seating plan on display in the foyer and on the door into the main hall. Some other body to help people find their seats is also a good idea.
  • Payment before the performance is best as it cuts down the confusion in the foyer and enables people to have a good look at the raffle prizes and buy lots of tickets! This may mean phoning people nearer the performances and gently offering a reminder.
  • Cheques should be made payable to The Chilbolton Players.
  • If tickets are to be collected on the door they should be put in an envelope with the name of the person who has booked together with how much money is owing etc.
  • Regarding cancellations and people asking for money back. This is a difficult one and largely depends on how close to the performance this is. Where food is being served, if you can sell the ticket to someone else that’s fine, otherwise use your own judgment or talk to the chairman and treasurer before making a decision.
  • If we have bought the food and cannot re-sell the seat, then they should at least be charged for the food.
  • Where food is being served it is helpful to assertain approximate numbers who require a veggetarian option and to liase with the catering team.
  • You need to let people know whether it is BYOD (bring your own drink) or whether we will be providing a bar. There is nothing to stop people bringing their own drink even if we do run a bar. Glasses in all cases will be provided.
  • The person running the box office is responsible for producing numbers to go on the tables or letters and numbers to go on the rows for other productions.
  • Above all you need a sense of humour, a pleasant telephone manner and a stiff drink to hand for that inevitable call when someone changes their mind at the last minute and doesn’t understand why they can’t have exactly the seat they want 3 hours before the performance!!

Setting up the hall for a meal accompanying a production

posted 15 Mar 2009, 12:02 by Chilbolton Players

  • Decide with director/producer how many tables are needed. Usually10 tables of 8. This is the maximum that we can comfortably get into the hall and still allow the audience to see the production.
  • If there is going to be a bar then 8 tables of 8 is the better option. Usually the bar is in the Durnford Room.
  • Tablecloths – white cotton or linen sheets are best. The Rectory have some, so does Annette Keys. These look much better than paper ones. The Players are currently investigating getting our own supply so that we don’t have to keep asking other people. You will need a couple of small cloths for the tables in the entrance hall i.e. ticket table and the raffle prizes table.
  • It is a good idea to organise a list of people prepared to take home cloths to wash and iron at the end of each performance. Also give a date when they must be returned to you (don’t allow too much time as people tend to forget and leave them for ages). You can then get them back to their owners within the week.
  • Tables should be laid with cutlery and crockery, together with salt and pepper, wine glasses and serviettes. You will need to liaise with catering and/or bar as regards who is organising the glasses. Currently the Rectory has some glasses as has Annette Keys.
  • Check with catering whether special serving spoons, slices etc. are needed for serving and who is going to provide them.
  • Check who is buying the serviettes – it is easier if you do this then you can decide the colour scheme. Usually the serviettes have been placed in the glasses and this gives a smart appearance to the hall as the punters come in.
  • Flower arrangements for each table + one for the entrance hall. Usually done in oasis in coffee jar lids. Maggie has a supply of these.
  • Naked lights are not allowed in the hall but we do have a supply of imitation candles in the Container.
  • The box office/front of house are responsible for the seating plan together with the table numbers, so talk to them and make sure you are both doing the same production!.
  • Always ask people to help – most are quite happy to do so. It is a good idea to lay up the tables for the next evening’s performance immediately after the first performance and it surprising how quickly this can be done. It saves people having to do this the next afternoon.
  • Depending on the food being served you may have to supplement the village hall cutlery with the Players’ own, which is kept in the container.

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