Getting Those Portions Right


Getting Those Portions Right

The 21st Staging Of The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards: This Evening

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!

Jamaicans love to entertain! And, this evening at the 21st annual Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards, the best of entertaining will be on display at Devon House. Guided by the event's theme “Taste it, Eat it! Drink it Applaud It!” your family-friendly butcher Master Meat Crafter Gregory Burrowes has paired up with Celeste Gordon and Simon Levy to offer tasty meaty morsels perfectly paired with two wines from Select Brands — Catena Malbec and Gnarly Head Double Black Red Blend.

On offer in the Butcher Block pavilion will be:

Jalapeño-cheddar cornbread with BBQ braised short rib and spicy corn relish

Lamb meatball gyro with roasted garlic aioli

Korean-style fried steak with oyster mushrooms in miso butter


Preparing to participate in this year's Food Awards had us think about a question that is asked by even the most seasoned caterer and dinner party host: “How much food should I cook?” Luckily, when you're invited to dinner at the home of a Jamaican, food will be abundant. This bounty is in part due to our generous nature and fear of running out of food. It seems our people will forgive a host for serving a dish that's not to their liking but not for having a buffet empty halfway through the event! However, sometimes there can be too much of a good thing, so we've perfected catering calculations that will reduce waste and save money.

First, we have to think about portions. For a plated meal, whether a sit-down affair or backyard barbecue, the average (operative word here is average) person will eat one pound of food, and up to half of that will be meat. Children between six and 12 will tend to eat approximately a half-pound of food. If only two types of meat are being offered, expect guests to consume three to four ounces each. If there are more options, most guests will have two to three ounces per choice.

Next, we have to consider shrinkage. Meat shrinks when you cook it; it's inevitable. On average between 10 and 30 per cent of meat shrinks when cooked. Some meats, like turkey, shrink up to 50 per cent. So, if you're calculating specific portion sizes per person, assume about a 30 per cent loss in the total weight after cooking. However, other reasons contribute to meat loss. Special consideration has to be taken if you're purchasing bone-in cuts, and there's loss from fat trimming and carving. However, the experienced team at Butcher Block, led by Gregory Burrowes, will ensure that trimming does not significantly impact the amount of meat that you leave with.

So what does cooking shrinkage look like in numbers? Sixteen ounces (one pound) of brisket will yield approximately eight-and-a-half ounces; 10 ounces of uncooked chicken will give you about six-and-a-half ounces of cooked meat; filleted fish shrinks by a whopping 70 per cent; and 10 ounces of uncooked baby back ribs will produce only half that amount. These numbers will not only help you to calculate the correct portions but also ensure that you buy the appropriate amount of raw meat.

When catering for an event like the Food Awards, where guests will visit multiple tents, expect up to one ounce of meat per guest, this will depend on the cut of meat, of course. This serving size is just enough to have the guests not only wanting more but also savouring the dish and not experiencing palate fatigue after visiting a few pavilions.

If you're wondering how else to calculate the rest of your menu, here's a guide:

Hors d'oeuvres: During pre-dinner cocktails estimate up to three bites per person; for passed appetisers estimate six pieces for each guest; and if these are the only items that you're serving many guests will have up to 10 hors d'oeuvres each.

Wine and spirits: An average of two drinks per person will be consumed each hour of your event.

Note: One 750ml bottle of wine will serve five guests, while a 750ml bottle of distilled spirits like rum, gin and vodka will serve up to 16 guests.

Beer: Guests will drink one bottle every half-hour.

Desserts: If you have petits fours or miniature desserts, average on two per person. For slices of cake, a four-ounce slice, per guest, will suffice.


Burrowes has simplified how to accurately calculate the amount of meat you'll need at your next shindig. You are now armed with insider knowledge on how caterers work and understand the maths involved in accurately calculating how much food to prepare. Cheers to your next dinner party!

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon