Ask Dr. Potato

With 733 posts, chances are there's already an answer to your question. Please try searching below before submitting a question to Dr. Potato. Use multiple words to help narrow down the results. For example, search for "potatoes" and "group" if looking for an answer on cooking potatoes for large groups.

Back To Dr. Potato Home

Baked Potato Bar for 150 People

Q:

I will be feeding 150 people a baked potato bar.  I live 3 hours from the event.  Can I pre-cook the potatoes, store them in a cooler (was thinking about using a heating pad to keep it hot) And transport them to the feeding location?

Also…

  1. How long will baked potatoes last – when the heat is retained?
  2. Should I wrap them in foil individually – before or after cooking?
  3. Or, should I find a location closer to the event that can cook 150 potatoes for me?
A:
  1. Three hours to hold a fully baked potato while traveling without a warming heat cabinet or other source of heat is really pushing it. You could certainly test it with a single potato by putting into a plastic Tupperware container for that long and then checking the final temperature, but I think it is a stretch. In restaurants they can hold the potatoes on a steam table line covered for that long, but the quality of the potato suffers, it will be wet and have a very wrinkled skin. The addition of a heating pad may help the top layer, but not 150 spuds.
  2. If you try, bake the potatoes to 210°F and then using one hand in a hot mitt, grab the potatoes and wrap in individual foil sheets, then place into a warmed cooler. To warm the cooler ahead of time add boiling water and seal the container for 5-6 minutes, then drain off the water and add the potatoes. You could also use an old clean blanket and cover up all the foil wrapped potatoes inside it to gain a little more time.
  3. Can you find a local church near the event or even a school that could let you use their ovens?

For long time periods, I have had better luck doing some sort of boil in the bag set up for mashed potatoes (or even boil water and add the convenient dry mashed potatoes at the last minute), fold in warm oil or dairy and serve in scoops or pipe out of pastry bags and have guests top with different fixings. Potatoes in a sauce can also hold up better for longer periods of time, such as a scalloped or AuGratin.

Just remember the food safety guidelines, hot food hot and cold food cold. In between can be right in the danger zone.