We had four different panini presses working hard that night and they seemed to fill the need fairly well. My cousin had one that I borrowed, then I bought the other three from Amazon at a really great price. Each press could easily hold 2-3 sandwiches each, so the line moved fairly fast. My only caution to you is to be sure you have your electricity load planned properly if you are running this many small appliances at once. We thought we had it all worked out according to the electrical drawings for the building, but of course, the drawings were wrong and we lost power to the presses for about 15 minutes right at the beginning. Thanks to some great friends, they got it up and running again using different plugs in the building and appliance grade extension cords. Disaster averted!
Our food plan was for 150 people and we came pretty close to that number. We planned on a sandwich and a half per person since there were other food stations as well around the room. We did have leftovers but I will always pick having too much food than not having enough. We froze the leftovers. Here is a breakdown of the supplies for the Panini Station bar:
- 450 slices of french bread – we chose french bread because the slices were smaller so people could make a few different smaller paninis and try different combinations. We also had two loaves of gluten free bread for those (like me) we needed that option.
- 200 slices of cheese – we cut them in half for 400 slices total. We had colby jack, swiss and provolone. We used our favorite which is Castle Wood brand from Sam’s Club.
- 25 pounds of deli meat – We served roast beef, turkey, ham and salami. We rolled each piece individually before placing them on the serving tray since this kept guests from grabbing just a stack of meat from the tray with no thought to the amount they were taking. It worked perfectly, and looked beautiful! We used our favorite deli meat which is Castle Wood brand from Sam’s Club. It is priced great and tastes amazing!
- 8 pounds of onions, sliced and sautéed – we made these weeks in advance and froze them
- 5 pounds mushrooms, sliced and sautéed – again, made and froze these ahead of time
- 15 green peppers, sliced and sautéed – yep, made these ones ahead and froze them
- 2 jars of pesto
- 2 jars olive tapenade
- 1/2 gallon real mayonaise
- 2 jars spicy mustard
I wish I had a picture of the bar once all the food was out, but with all the craziness, it never happened. The small bowls on the table held all the topping options and had little toothpick signs stuck in each of them so guests would know what each topping bowl contained. Especially once the lighting was in place and it was much darker in the room!
We kept one tray of all the meats and cheeses on the table, then kept one on deck in the kitchen. Once the tray on the table started to get low on any of the meats or cheeses, we would switch out the whole thing with a fresh one then restock the old one in the kitchen for later.
I had three amazing volunteers who ran that station the whole night, plus another who kept filling the meat and cheese trays. They pressed more sandwiches than I’m sure they ever thought possible. I would have never survived the evening if it wasn’t for all my volunteers. I will have a post in the weeks to come about planning for your needed volunteers, and trust me when I say you will need more than you can imagine!