PLANNING AND PREPARING MEMBERSHIP NIGHT DINNERS
1. THE POTLUCK SUPPER
This is probably the simplest choice but is not a guaranteed success unless you use a little imagination. Everyone brings a favorite dish and the dishes are spread out on serving tables for all to enjoy. There usually a minimum charge to reimburse the club for paper supplies or any supplemental food items purchased. In order to attain a compatible variety of foods the CS should try to maintain some control over who brings what. Short of dictating, try to make clear to the members what you would like them to contribute. Be as specific as you can and hope for the best. You might want to provide the main course (e.g. a steamship round or other meat) and ask that the potluck be geared to supporting your centerpiece. This combination potluck/you cook offers all sorts of opportunities. You might also consider themed potlucks (e.g. Mexican, oriental etc.). This would narrow the varieties that people might bring. Think about it and then jump in. It will be delicious! Reservations for most membership night dinners are requested.
2. BRING YOUR OWN WHATEVER
This approach involves the members bringing their own entrée and cooking it at the club on the large family night grill. This works best when the club provides and prepares the trimmings such as potatoes, salad, dessert etc., for a nominal fee of around $5 per person. Alternatively, members could be asked to bring potluck type accompaniments but this somewhat complicates an otherwise simple dinner. Reservations are required so that the CS can get a head count. As noted above the CS can draw funds through the Club Manager to finance the necessary purchases.
3. THE CATERED MEAL
This sounds simple but there are pitfalls. Do not make a firm commitment until you have a good reservation count (provided Wednesday morning of the same week as the Friday night dinner). The goal is be keep individual dinner cost as low as possible and routinely under $8. The key to success lies in carefully selecting a menu from a qualified caterer and paying attention to details. Assume nothing and ask a lot of questions. The food must be delivered fresh and ready to serve. How will the caterer assure this? When will they prepare it and how will he deliver? Would it be better if you picked it up? Will they provide insulated containers? Could the caterer do some or all of the cooking using the club facilities? This could work best for a fish fry or perhaps a BBQ. How does the caterer determine portions? You certainly need to know this if you are doing the serving. You might need to be specific as to how much food you want instead of relying on the caterer’s portions (e.g. X pounds of meat, Y pounds of potato salad etc.) These are just some of the things you need to consider. You can lower cost by purchasing sides from Walmart or Sam’s. Make up your own list of questions and be sure you get satisfaction before ordering.
4. YOU COOKFor those of you ready to display your culinary skills, this is the avenue for you. Here’s your chance to share your favorite recipes with all of the club members. As with all dinners, planning and attention to detail will get the job done. The club’s cooking facilities consist of 2 four burner electric stoves, 2 refrigerators, a large warmer, 1 large gas grill and a modest variety of cookware. Because this clearly limits the types of meal you can prepare at the club you may want to consider cooking some of the meal at home. Also, you can farm out items like baked potatoes or desserts to members of the crew to cook at home while you prepare the entrée at the club.
The purpose of this paper is to encourage volunteers for providing the Membership dinners at the EYC. The guidance provided is to stimulate your thinking and is not intended to give detailed instruction in any area. Do not let the problem areas scare you. They are yours to resolve, and in doing so you will achieve a great feeling of satisfaction. And last, you will receive the best reward of all. Members will come up after the meal and say, "Thank you, the meal was delicious and you all did a good job".