The Fromage Formula:
How to Buy Cheese for a Crowd
Photo: Capriole Banon—USA; stunning chevre wrapped in macerated chestnut leaves
To determine how much cheese you'll need for a party, answer the following questions:
How many people?
Count each adult as one, each child as one-half. Multiply the total number by 3.5 (105 g), which is the rule-of-thumb number of ounces (grams) per individual that I have found works best. (This figure can be adjusted up or down, taking into account several other factors mentioned below.) To determine the amount of cheese you need to buy, divide the total by 16 (ounces in 1 pound; 500 g) and round up.
What time of day are you serving and for how long?
Noon until 3:00 P.M. is a hungry time of day; even more so is the period from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. For these times I usually figure 4 ounces (125 g) per person unless the answer to question three proves significant.
What other food will be served and in what quantity?
If a wide variety of other foods will be offered, you'll want to lower the 3.5 ounce (105 g) standard by 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce (15 to 30 g), allowing 2.5 to 3 ounces (75 to 90 g) per person.
There is no need to serve more than three or four types of cheese.
Indeed, serving more would be disrespectful since it makes it very difficult to focus on the merits of any one cheese long enough to make tasting it a meaningful experience. Also bear in mind the more cheeses you serve, the smaller the quantity of each will be required.
Of course, there's always the possibility that two people who take an instant liking to the same cheese will focus on it, thereby depriving other guests of the opportunity to taste it. Buying a bit extra can't hurt.
Steven Jenkins' Cheese Primer
- The Fromage Formula: How to Buy Cheese for a Crowd
- The Art of Serving Cheese
- Suggested Cheese & Wine Menus
- Cheeseboard Accompaniments
- Leftover Cheese
- Tricks of the Trade: Caterers' Tips
More Wine & Cheese-Spread Party Recipes
This page created 1998 and modified September 2007.