Running an Event Kitchen

Not long ago our club hosted a men's playdown event.  The junior curling program was asked if we'd like to run the kitchen, with proceeds going to the junior curling program.  I'd never run a kitchen before, but it sounded like a good idea, so I said yes.  Remember that I said I'd never run a kitchen before?  Well, it turns out no one else involved in the program had either, and there was no documentation left from previous years.

So, based on my experience; here is what is required to run a successful fundraising kitchen.

  1. Hours of Operation

    Check out the draw schedule and figure out when you should open and close the kitchen.  Ideally, the kitchen opens 3-45 minutes before the first draw goes on (unless you have no breakfast/snack items) and closes when the last draw goes on the ice.  Howerver, if all the teams have a long time between games, you might not want to stay open, since the odds are good people will leave the club for a bit of a break.  The less rest time a team has between games, the more likely they'll be eating in the club.

  2. The menu

    Our most important consideration putting together the menu was that everything could be made up quickly, or ahead of time. 
    We decided on the following menu:

    Chili with bun $4
    Soup (chicken noodle) $3
    Sandwich (ham/egg salad)      $3.50
    Muffin $1
    2 Cookies $1
    Coffee (bottomless) $1
    Juice/Hot Chocolate $1
    Pizza (last day only) $3/slice

    The muffins, soup and egg salad were made ahead of time.  The day of the kitchen we assembled the sandwiches and heated the soup and chili (the chili was Stagg from a can).  This worked out fairly well, since we could replenish the sandwiches during down times and keeping the soup and chili warm wasn't difficult.

  3. Volunteers

    We actually had a few too many volunteers for some of the shifts.  With the menu we had, two volunteers would have been the right amount, and even then the volunteers needed their Nintendo DS to occupy themselves.


For a 19 team tournament we bought or made:  60 cookies, 100 muffins, 35 cans of chili, 12 x 900 mL soup stock, 54 eggs, 72 buns, 9 loaves of bread, 3 heads of lettuce, 3 lbs of ham, condiments, chicken and vegetables for the soup.  On the final day we also bought 2 extra-large pizzas, for a grand total of $295.34.

At the end of the second day we had made $181.16 in profit, and had some leftovers (~75 muffins, 4 cookies, 2.5 loaves of bread, half the chicken, 2 heads of lettuce, 45 buns, 12 eggs, 7 cans of chili).  I think it was a successful kitchen.  The first day was incredibly slow, probably due to the length of time between games.  I was very concerned that we wouldn't be able to even cover our costs.  Luckily sales the second day were much better, the games were closer together for the teams that were still in the playoffs, and we had more spectators.  Before the final game I decided to purchase a couple of pizzas in case the players were getinng tired of chili, soup, and sandwiches.  I purchased the pizzas from a grocery store instead of a pizza place so that I could keep the price per slice reasonable.  The pizza sold out quickly and people were asking for more.

The next time I run a kitchen, I'll have a better idea of how much chicken is required for soup, make a LOT less muffins, and provide more variety in the meals (lunch/supper).  I think that a lasagna and salad, or lasagna and garlic bread would have been simple to provide.  I'd also include some fresh fruits and/or vegetables for sale since there was definitely some interest in that direction.  All in all I think the kitchen went fairly well, and I'd run or volunteer in one again.  I'll also support the kitchens of the clubs I play at!