Organizing a barbecue or mechoui for large number of guests

Crédit : ® Photographie : Tanguy de Montesson / Agence Oblique

Organizing a mechoui or barbecue for a large summer evening is an enjoyable and memorable experience that requires meticulous planning and adequate preparation. Whether it's to celebrate a special occasion, gather family and friends, or simply take advantage of the beautiful weather, following a few key steps can ensure the success of this outdoor event.

This guide will explore various aspects of planning a mechoui or barbecue for a large number of guests, from choosing the location and preparing the space to creating the menu and cooking the meat, emphasizing the importance of attention to detail for an unforgettable experience.

Choosing the Location and Preparing the Space

The first consideration when organizing a mechoui or barbecue for a large number of guests is the choice of location and the preparation of the space. Ideally, select a spacious outdoor area, such as a garden, park, or large terrace, offering enough room to accommodate all guests and set up the cooking equipment. Ensure there is easy access to electricity and water to facilitate preparation and cleaning. Additionally, provide shaded areas where guests can take shelter from the sun, and arrange enough tables and chairs so everyone can relax and enjoy the evening comfortably.

When selecting the location, consider the proximity to your home or an indoor area in case of unexpected weather changes. It's also essential to check local regulations regarding outdoor events, as some areas may have restrictions on the use of open flames or noise levels. Once the location is secured, think about the layout. Position the cooking area in a spot where smoke will not disturb guests and arrange the seating and dining areas to encourage social interaction.


Creating the Menu

Once the location is chosen, focus on creating the menu. A mechoui or barbecue offers a wide variety of culinary options, from grilled meats to delicious sides. Start by selecting the main meats, such as lamb, chicken, beef, or pork, while considering your guests' dietary preferences. It is also wise to include a variety of marinades and spices to cater to different tastes.

For the sides, offer a selection of fresh salads, grilled vegetables, homemade sauces, and various breads. Don’t forget to provide vegetarian and vegan options to satisfy all dietary needs. Including a range of accompaniments, such as couscous, tabbouleh, or potato salad, can add diversity to the meal and appeal to a broader audience. Finally, think about refreshing beverages, delectable desserts, and snacks to complete the menu and delight your guests' palates.

When planning the menu, consider the logistics of preparation and serving. Dishes that can be prepared in advance and served cold, such as salads and desserts, can reduce the workload on the day of the event. Ensure that all necessary cooking equipment, utensils, and serving dishes are available and organized for efficient service.


Preparing and Cooking the Meat

Preparing and cooking the meat are crucial steps in successfully hosting a mechoui or barbecue. Before the event day, ensure you have all the necessary meats, marinades, and spices. Prepare the marinades the day before to allow the flavors to develop and infuse the meat. On the day, light your barbecue or rotisserie and let it preheat to the appropriate temperature.

Arrange the meats on the grill or spit and monitor the cooking closely, turning regularly for even cooking. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature and ensure all meats are perfectly cooked and juicy. Once done, let the meat rest for a few minutes before serving to redistribute the juices and concentrate the flavors. This resting period is crucial for achieving tender and flavorful meat.

When cooking for a large group, consider using multiple grills or rotisseries to speed up the process and ensure that all guests are served promptly. So, you can opt for grills and barbecues hire.
Enlist the help of friends or family members to manage different cooking stations and keep an eye on various dishes.


Quantity Based on the Number of Guests

When planning a mechoui or barbecue for a large number of guests, it is essential to calculate the quantities of meat needed based on the number of guests. Generally, plan for about 200 to 250 grams of meat per person for a barbecue evening. For a buffet, add a variety of meats and sides to satisfy everyone's tastes. Remember to consider any vegetarian or vegan guests by offering alternative options. It is always better to plan for a slight abundance to avoid shortages and ensure all guests enjoy themselves without restraint.

Here is an indicative table of the quantity of meat to plan based on the number of guests:

Number of Guests Meat Quantity (kg)
20 5 - 7
30 8 - 10
40 11 - 14
50 15 - 18
60 19 - 22

When calculating quantities, also consider the types of meat and their cooking times. Some meats, such as chicken and pork, may take longer to cook and require more attention. Plan the cooking schedule accordingly to ensure all dishes are ready to serve at the same time.

Attention to Detail

Finally, attention to detail will make all the difference at your mechoui or barbecue. Think about all logistical aspects, such as arranging tables, chairs, and cooking equipment, as well as waste management and cleaning. Create a warm and welcoming atmosphere by adding decorative elements, such as string lights, candles, and fresh flowers. Also, plan entertainment activities to keep your guests amused, like outdoor games or live music. Consider the flow of the event, from the arrival of guests to the serving of food and drinks. Set up a welcome area where guests can mingle and enjoy appetizers while waiting for the main meal. Ensure there are enough serving stations to prevent long queues and provide clear signage to guide guests to different areas.

It is also important to provide enough drinks and refreshments to keep your guests hydrated and happy throughout the event. Consider offering a variety of options, such as water, juices, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages, to cater to everyone's tastes. Are you planning to serve champagne at your event? Discover how many bottles of champagne to provide based on the number of guests.

Don’t forget to have a contingency plan in case of adverse weather conditions. Renting a tent or marquee can provide shelter and keep the event going even in unexpected rain. Additionally, think about safety measures, such as having a fire extinguisher nearby and ensuring all cooking equipment is in good working order.

Lastly, thank your guests for their presence and contribution to the success of the event, ensuring they leave with wonderful memories of this memorable evening. Personalized touches, such as small thank-you gifts or a photo booth, can add to the experience and create lasting mementos.

In conclusion, organizing a mechoui or barbecue for a large number of guests is a rewarding undertaking that requires meticulous planning and careful execution. By following these key steps, you can create an unforgettable culinary and social experience that will delight your guests and leave lasting memories. So, put on your apron, light the fire, and get ready for an unforgettable summer evening filled with conviviality and great food !