CTS Foreyule Feast - Planning

This section of the notes deals with the advance planning and organisation of the Feast, up to a few days before the Feast. The various actions are listed, roughly in the order that they need to be done, and with some indication of when they need to be done.

Fix the Date

Early in Michaelmas
The traditional date for the Feast is the last Saturday of Michaelmas Full Term. This can be determined years in advance from the calendar on the University website.

Find a Venue

Early in Michaelmas
In extreme cases (i.e. nowhere can do the standard date), this will influence the date; otherwise, the choice will be limited to the venues which can manage the chosen date.
The requirements for a decent venue are: If the venue kitchen has enough oven capacity to cook the turkey and the baked potatoes simultaneously, this is a real bonus. This would typically mean a cooker with a normal oven for the turkey and a grill/top oven for the spuds.
Taken together, these requirements usually translate as a CTS member's house somewhere in Cambridge. You will typically then have to:

Negotiate with the Venue

Early - middle of Michaelmas
Things to be decided between the CTS and the venue typically include: If the chosen venue is really awkward about things, you will have to pick another venue and go round the loop again.

Set the Price

middle of Michaelmas
Smaug (or the chosen organiser) should fix the prices for the basic meal and the optional extras. Assuming last year's Feast broke even, this is typically a case of increasing last year's prices by a small amount to reflect inflation (and any extra free meals for hosts). If last year made a reasonable surplus, prices can be left as they are. If prices are reviewed, it's best to adjust the meal and the extras independently (the beer in particular can vary significantly), as it's not exactly fair to cross-subsidise. If Smaug is feeling especially enthusiastic, a trip to the supermarket and other suppliers can be used to provide a more accurate estimate of the actual cost of the food etc. The advertised cost per head should then be set to provide a small surplus, perhaps a few percent. This allows a little in reserve for unexpected costs. Something else to watch out for is a possible cost of a taxi for moving the baked potatoes around (see On the Day).

Take Bookings

middle of Michaelmas onwards
Having sorted out the date, venue and price, the Feast should be advertised to the membership and anyone else you feel like. In practice, this means all three CTS mailing lists (main, interested and external), and frequently CUSFS and Taruithorn. You should state a closing date for bookings: for a Saturday Feast, this is usually the CTS meeting on the preceding Tuesday evening. This allows for a reasonable amount of preparation time, and also for late bookings from forgetful people. I have taken this closing date to be the cut-off between the planning phase and the preparation phase.

Booking Admin

There are several pieces of information you need to keep track of for each person attending the Feast. The easiest way I have found is the good old-fashioned multi-column list, which will typically look something like this:
Name Veggie Haggis Booze Amount Paid by
Mark Waller N Y beer 8.50 cheque
The Y/N entries are probably better done with a tick for Y and a dash for N, as this makes it easier to do a quick count by running one's eye down the list.
The choices under booze are beer, cider and dash.
Amount should be filled in with the amount due; Paid By should only be filled in when payment is received (this allows for pay-on-the-day bookings), and the choice of cheque or cash helps in keeping track of where the money has gone.
This can of course also be done with a spreadsheet, and this will help in terms of automating all the totals (number of people taking different options, and amounts of money received). The problem with the spreadsheet is that you can't carry it around and write on it at meetings!

Organise the Potato Baking

middle - late Michaelmas
If the Feast venue doesn't have the oven capacity to cook the turkey and potatoes simultaneously, you will have to find another oven somewhere else. This probably means getting another set of people to volunteer their kitchen, albeit only for an hour or so.
You will then need to work out the logistics of moving the hot potatoes back to the main Feast venue. In the past, this has involved a taxi ride, or a walk across town carrying 15-20 lb (7-10 kg) of hot potatoes. Obviously, the closer the potato oven is to the main venue, the better. In 2000, GreenEnd (5 minutes down the road from the Empire) were willing to let us use their oven.

Organise the Kit

middle - late Michaelmas
There are several bits of necessary cooking equipment which aren't found in a typical kitchen. These need to be borrowed from various people around Cambridge. Each of the individual recipes should list the relevant items, but it's a good idea to construct a checklist and make sure everything is accounted for. A non-exhaustive list of the more awkward items includes: At this stage it's also a good idea to locate the Jóms crockery and cutlery and ensure that there's enough to go round - each Feast participant will need one plate, one bowl and one knife, fork and spoon. There were originally 20 of each, but the knives in particular have migratory tendencies.

Organise Other Stuff

middle - late Michaelmas
There's a miscellany of other items which probably need following up at this stage:
At this point, you will have got to the closing date for bookings, and it's time to move on to the preparation phase.
Last update 2001-11-14 by Mark Waller
Version 1.0