The Cheap-Ass Gourmet Cooks Dinner for Twenty


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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30 Responses

  1. Avatar aaron david says:

    Store bought chips? Savage!

    Even though I am not a food kinda person, the whole thing sounds delightful. I love social gatherings. I am hoping to be able to make the next league fest, though my current movements are restricted.

    (I do 3/4 of the cooking for my wife and I, and it is like pulling teeth. That is just for the two of us, for 20… You are a brave man!)Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aaron david says:

      It’s probably easier for me than it would be for you, simply because of the different ways we each feel about food. I’m glad to hear, though, that this kind of gathering is still a thing that appeals! If we do this for Leaguefest, it would be awesome to have you there.Report

  2. Avatar Anne says:

    Oh my TOD that sounds fantastic and bravo on pulling it off. I would definitely make an extra effort to get to a Portland LeaguefestReport

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    This sounds wonderful. I’d have broken my carb-fast for this. Even the mushy, buttery, molassesy bannanas.

    No, strike that. Especially the mushy, buttery, molassesy bannanas.Report

  4. Avatar North says:

    I am in serious danger of drowning in my own saliva. Curse you Tod!Report

  5. Avatar Damon says:

    Sounds yummy, but Todd, “Since several guests were Jewish this meant no pork or shellfish, obviously, ”

    None of the jewish women I’ve dated had all those restrictions. One chomped down on mussels (on the prohibited list I hear) and pork. The other, seafood, including scallops.

    But I guess there’s all KINDS of jewish-ness 🙂Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Damon says:


      Those are pretty standard Kosher restrictions. Of course, not all Jews keep Kosher (and even those who do will follow different rules/standards based on any number of criteria). But unless you know for sure that your Jewish guest doesn’t keep Kosher AND if you want the sort of inclusive meal that Tod is describing, best to take the route he did.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Kazzy says:


        Of course the second date I had with the Jewish Israeli school director, she was tucking into a dozen mussels and asked me “if I’d found Jesus Christ as my savior”. The cognitive dissonance stunned me for a moment. 🙂

        @stillwater Indeed, as I do as well. But the thing that got me here was, being less familiar with jewish things, I sought council from a coworker who was jewish and he gave some some info. Of course that was “common” stuff. My girlfriend wasn’t “common”. She was a few standard deviations from the norm.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Damon says:

      But I guess there’s all KINDS of jewish-ness 🙂

      Yah. Same here. I also know some catholic women who use birth control, and even a few quite content protestant men who don’t seem to Protest all that much.Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Lots of yummy sounding food. Bonus points for the Brueghal:

    Peasant Wedding by William Carlos Williams

    Pour the wine bridegroom
    where before you the
    bride is enthroned in her hair

    loose at her temples a head
    of ripe wheat is on
    the wall beside her the

    guests seated at long tables
    the bagpipers are ready
    there is a hound under

    the table the bearded Mayor
    is present women in their
    starched headgear are

    gabbing all but the bride
    hands folded in her
    lap is awkwardly silent simple

    dishes are being served
    clabber and what not
    from a trestle made of an

    unhinged barn door by two
    helpers one in a red
    coat a spoon in his hatbandReport

  7. Avatar Kazzy says:

    How many ovens do you have, Tod? I’ve never hosted 20 people but I will say that a double oven can really make a difference.Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to Kazzy says:

      @kazzy we have two, but we didn’t use either one. Other than using the stove to make the catchup and our rice cooker, everything that was cooked was cooked on the big green egg.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to RTod says:

        Ballsy! I can work the grill for large quantities of food if we’re talking burgers or sausage or dogs, but the sort of temperature control over multiple cooks (assuming you did) is hard if we’re talking about a fish. Does the BGE regulate temperature better than a gas/propane grill?Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

          I’m looking at a BGE-knockoff (that is, substantially cheaper) kamado grill right now – I asked for some gift cards for Father’s Day, to go toward it – and supposedly once you get the hang of it, you can keep them at temperature for very long periods (like a 200-degree twelve-hour smoke for brisket, say).Report

        • Avatar RTod in reply to Kazzy says:

          It really does. Plus it retains it incredibly well, so the fire needs zero tending.Report

  8. Avatar Adam says:

    I love this series – I’ve made the roast chicken (and bread drippings!) and the chicken enchiladas plenty of times. Looking forward to these installments!Report

  9. Avatar zic says:

    This is one of those times when a catering/rental place (for serving/holding dishes, particularly) can make a huge difference. Dishes, chairs, glasses, etc; don’t keep that stuff at home if you don’t do this regularly, rent it.

    Awesome job.

    Want to know the Island Style Deviled Eggs. I love deviled eggs. Currently, I’ve been making them with a little homemade mayo, mustard, mild curry powder, minced shallot and celery, salt, and dusted with tandoori seasoning instead of paprika.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

      Oddly enough, I think I do have enough plates and glasses and all for 10, at least. (Thanks to Amazon, for free glassware!). Of course, they’d all be mismatched and that… but I couldn’t possibly invite people who would care about that!Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to zic says:

      Fancy deviled eggs are one of those gastropub trends i am see more and more of lately. looking forward to reading about those too.Report

  10. Avatar Kim says:

    I don’t have room in my house for 20.
    I am impressed with what can be done “easily” on a BGE.Report

  11. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    This is pretty impressive. We do Thanksgiving for about 25 every year but most of the dishes are very forgiving and the Crockpots come in handy. Doing a meal like this where you have to get the timing right is quite ambitious. Kudos and looking forward to reading more about it.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I know! I would have done like a third of this, and have most of it be make-ahead anyway.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Kim says:

        It also depends on having guests that are game for what you are doing. When I feed my very meat-and-potatoes family they show up starving and if you drag out the meal prep the natives get restless. Doing something like what Tod pulled off requires that the guests appreciate what you are doing for them.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          That’s what appetizers are for, nibbles that can be easily chomped while the real meal is cooking.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          @mike-dwyer Yeah, that’s probably true. They were a very appreciative audience (participants? guinea pigs?), and that helped.

          For me, the only thing worse than making an extra effort to cook a great meal for people who don’t seem to appreciate it is having the meal turn out crappy and inedible and having everyone tell you it’s wonderful out of politeness.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            LOL. I suppose I’d make the perfect dinner guest then… never did get the hang of being polite. Honesty’s better.
            (Yes, I do honestly ask my husband “How do I look in this dress?” — and expect an honest answer.)Report