Tips and Recipes

How Many Different Types Of Hors D’oeuvres Should You Serve?

Caterers often use this rule of thumb:-
  • Up to 50 people: 5 to 6 varieties
  • 50 to 100 people: 7 to 8 varieties
  • More than 100: Up to 10 varieties
However, we look at it from the eating point of view, not the head count point of view. It’s how long the party lasts, not how many people attend. Whether you’re one of 20 guests or one of 120, if you’re there for two hours do you want to look at the same four puffs or nibbles, or do you want to see seven, eight, or ten choices? You be the judge! You need also take into consideration: Will there also be stationary items or a food station? Are 
ou having a cocktail hour prior to serving a dinner or do you want the Hors d'Oeuvres to be the dinner? As you can see, we have much to discuss :-)

Calculating cocktail party number of guests and amounts of HD'd 

  • 10 people = 80 pieces = 8 piece per person = 6 dozen = 2 dozen of 3 variety
  • 15people = 120 pieces = 8 pieces per person = 10 dozen = 2 dozen of 5 variety
  • 20 people = 168 pieces = 8 pieces per person = 14 dozen
  • 25 people = 204 pieces = 8 pieces per person = 17 dozen
Calculations for dinner party (3-4 piece)
  • 10 people = 40 pieces = 4 piece per person = 3 dozen

Staffing Needs 

  • The general rule of thumb for parties – is one staff for every 20 people*
  • Seated dinners require more staff, than buffets or cocktail receptions*
  • The practice of giving a gratuity is common and is at the clients discression*
Cocktail Party with passed Hors D'oeuvres
Party for 20 guests
  • 1 chef – 4 hr min
  • 1 waitstaff – 4 hr min
  • 1 bartender – 4 hr min
Seated dinner with or without Hors D'oeuvres
Dinner for 20 guests
  • 1 chef
  • 1-2 waitstaff (for serving and clearing)


Store your dried spices and herbs in a cool dark place, not above or beside your stove. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavour and health giving properties. Buy dried spices and herbs in small quantities, as they do have a shelf life. Use fresh spices whenever you can. Grow your own Basil, Thyme, Mint, Oregano, Sage, Cilantro and whatever else you like. At the end of the growing season; harvest your fresh herbs and freeze in baggies or blend with your favourite oil and freeze in ice cub tray. These cubes are a great start to almost any dish and are ready to go! You can also do this with garlic, onions and ginger.

Mise en place

Mise en place is a french phrase – which means “putting in place, or everything in it's place”. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients a chef will need to prepare their dish, sauce, marinade. This practice is equally effective for home cooks.
Prep, prep, prep. Many a great chef will sing the praises of having a great Sous chef or prep cook. For regular folks, who must prep themselves - take away some stress from preparing dishes by breaking the task up. Prep the day before, then all you have to do on cooking day, is put it all together.
Make larger than normal batches of soup, stew, chili and freeze for another day, when the mood to cook is absent.


Go easy on the Salt. Just remember that we all have different pallets, some more sensitive to salt than others. You can always add a touch of salt to a meal, but you can never take it away! Besides, we all know it is unhealthy to have a diet too high in Sodium. Add a few additional herbs and spices or a splash of lemon or lime instead.

Room to Breath 

It is Crucial to have elbow room in the kitchen. If you have too many machines and stuff all over your counter top and nowhere to lay out your ingredients, it can not only be tricky and messy but stressful. An island or desigated area for food prep, is ideal – keep it clear for when inspiration hits!

My Favourite Kitchen gadgets

  • A very sharp chefs knife
  • mini food processor
  • Julienne peeler
  • Good Grips oxo vegetable peeler
  • A solid cutting board – bamboo is nice
  • Mandoline Slicer
  • Vegetable spinner
  • Bowls of all sizes 

Pots and Pans

The best investment you can make is in a range of good-quality pots and pans. If cared for, they will  last a lifetime. Choose good-quality stainless steel, enamel-coated cast iron or copper core stainless steel. Copper is a good heat conductor and will spread the heat to allow for even cooking. Of course, the size and quantity of pots will depend on the number of people you're cooking for. I always find that even in kitchens that have a huge range of pots and pans, there are about two or three that are my go-to items that I use all the time. I'm not a big fan of Teflon-coated cookware, although I have heard that the toxins were inert unless the surface is scratched. I do keep one nonstick pan for making crepes and omlettes. I like cookware with glass lids, as I like to be able to see what's going on in my pots and pans as the food is cooking. Also find out if the handles will heat up— I have learned this lesson the hard way – but on most good-quality pots, they won't.


I enjoy a nice assortment of bowls—ceramic, glass and metal—for baking, mixing and serving. I love to use small bowls for my mise en place - which I line up next to my stove to add to my dishes, so I need a range of various-size bowls on hand.


A good juicer can extract the amazing nutrients and enzymes from your fruits and veggies and make an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetable juices. My favorite treat these days is kale lemonade, which I make by juicing a large bunch of kale and squeezing the juice from three to four lemons. Combine in 
a jug and add about 4 cups water and enough agave syrup to sweeten it to taste. As well as being a delicious and refreshing drink that even kids enjoy despite the fact that it's green, it's highly nutritious and alkalizing.

Food Processor

I tend to use a small food processor (cusineart – mini-prep) a lot more than the bigger one, unless I'm preparing large quantities. Great for chopping and blending.


A good zester will last a long time and come in handy for garlic, ginger, citrus, nutmeg and chocolate – among other things...just watch your knuckles - as this kitchen tool can do some damage if you are not careful! Microplane brand is popular and you can find it almost anywhere and it comes in several 
shapes and sizes.

Cutting Boards

I prefer to work with a bamboo board, as they're durable and hygienic, and less absorbent than most woods. Bamboo is also a sustainable, environmentally friendly material. I also like to have a few plastic cutting boards that I can put into the dishwasher for cutting meats and fish—preferably color 


I'm not one of those chefs who boasts a large selection of knives—I have a few good ones – of Canadian,Japanese and German origin. A good chefs knife doesn't have to break the bank, although there are some that would run you $175 - $500. Make sure to invest in a good knife sharpener 
specific to your type of blade and a blade guard, which protects you and it, from dings and scratches, plus it makes it easier to travel with. My three favourite knives – Chef, pairing and Santoku.