Dessert TG for Dummies

or

Better Living Through Pies and Petitfours

(a guide to putting on the Dessert TG through the eyes of Daniel Huber)

What is the Dessert TG?

The concept of a TG was spawned long ago by macro-oriented CS grad students who were too busy to say "Thank God It's Friday!" each week and subsequently shortened the acronym from TGIF to TG. Typically TG's are put on by a group known as Dec5 or by generous CS students who have recently come into big money or successfully defended a thesis. Once each year, Robotics pitches in with a special TG known as the Dessert TG. Instead of the usual beerfest, this TG features all manner of desserts, including (but not limited to) pies and cakes. Each year, one lucky soul gets to organize this pie party, and this guide should make the process somewhat painless (or at least less painful).

Things to do

There are certain things that you just have to do to put on the dessert TG. This lists those things and (in parentheses) the ideal date for accomplishing each task. These dates would be closely followed if we were living in Utopia (or if we were professional wedding coordinators), but if you fall behind, you might end up working doubletime at the last minute. It is especially important to reserve the room early, since there is approximately one (1) room of this size available within the CS/Robotics domain.

  • pick a date (> 1 month)
  • reserve room (> 1 month)
  • get budget (> 1 month)
  • find volunteers to help (3-4 weeks)
  • decide on menu (3 weeks)
  • order food/drinks (1 week)
  • buy utensils and paper products (1 week)
  • make punch (1 day)
  • set up (0 day)
  • serve (0 day)
  • clean up (0 day)

General

Plan for 150 to 200 people. (This year, an estimated 200 people showed up.)

Picking a Date

The TG usually takes place in November. Check with Dec5 (decfive@cs.cmu.edu) to plan the actual date. Also make sure the event doesn't conflict with any other important robotics events such as the robotics seminar.

Reserving the Room

Contact Dec5 for this, but if necessary, call the CS Main Office (268-2565) to make the reservation yourself. Usually, the TG is in WeH 4623 starting between 4:00 and 5:00 pm. Keys to the room can be obtained in the CS main office (Wean 4th floor) or from Catherine Copetas (Wean 4101).

Getting the Budget

The budget is set by RoboOrg. Later on, you will need to get purchase orders or reimbursements. Remember to save receipts for everything you buy.

Volunteers

Send out an e-mail or two or three asking for volunteers. You'll need:
  • 8 Servers
  • 4 Setup
  • 2 Cleanup
  • Optional: 1 each to be in charge of: drinks, picking up pies/ice, etc.
You may want to hold a meeting to brief everyone on their setup/serving jobs before the actual event. This year no one came to the meeting, though, and everything went ok anyway.

You might not get any response from a mass emailing asking for volunteers. If replies are meager, the next level is to ask people personally if they will help. Most people will have a hard time telling you no. Most of the work is just about an hour or so, and you can bribe people to be servers by offering them the first pieces of pie at the TG.

Food

This year, we bought most of the desserts from USA Gourmet and some from Gullifty's. USA Gourmet is cheaper, pie/cake prices ranging from $5 to $20, with $10 being average. Gulliftys' pies are more expensive, all about $25. (This year, at the last minute, Gulliftys couldn't get strawberries for their French Strawberry pies.) Place orders at least a week in advance. Be sure to call back a few days before the TG to make sure nothing went awry.

USA Gourmet - 231-8222. Contact is Jack Werner x141. They did a great job. They deliver; they don't charge sales tax; the pies are good. One word of caution, the cakes were somewhat frozen when they arrived. This is not a bad thing, it makes them easy to cut, but if you don't have them delivered about an hour before the TG starts, they will be a bit cold when they are served.

Gullifty's - 521-8222. They don't deliver (at least for small orders), and they do charge sales tax.

Estimate that each person will eat about 2 pieces of pie or cake to determine how much to order. Probably about 20 pies will be enough. This is what we ordered this year:

  • cakes: black forest torte, cappuccino torte, mississipi mud bundt, white raspberry mousse, carrot
  • cheesecakes: tuxedo, oreo cookie, raspberry, chocolate chip (2)
  • pies: pecan, pumpkin (2), deep dish apple (2), blueberry, cherry, tri-berry
  • other: banana cream, chocolate mousse cup (12), cheesecake diamond (12), chocolate cake square (12), frangipan petitfours (12). Note, these last 4 items are individual servings.
Comments on cake choices: The pumpkin pie was not too popular, nor was the cream pie. Everything else was roughly equally well liked.

Drinks

Cokes - Get about 14 2-liter bottles (6 coke, 3 diet coke, 3 sprite, 2 dr pepper) (This year, we bought 20 2-liter bottles, which was too much) Don't get any root-beer or cherry coke - no one drank that.

Punch - see punch.txt for a variety of punch recipes (thanks to Marce) This year, we made "Punch 08", which was very good. Make 3 or 4 batches - each batch is about 1 punch bowl full. We also cut up some lemons, limes, and oranges to put on top of the punch. One or two of each fruit should do. You can mix the punch in the bottled water jugs found on the 2nd floor of Smith Hall or in the RoboLounge (2 batches per jug). Don't add carbonated ingredients until you are ready to serve. (This year, we made two batches, and ran out pretty quickly.)

Coffee - This year, Carol Boshears just transferred the regular order of coffee from the Robotics Seminar, so it was effectively free. Get 5 gallons regular, 2 gallons decaf. (This year, we got 3 gal regular, 2 gal decaf and ran out of regular pretty quickly.) Coffee service can be purchased from dining services (call Betty at 8-2129) for about $6 per gallon.

Milk - A number of people have suggested that we get milk to counteract some of the intense sugar action found in most of the pies and cakes that we serve. We didn't follow this advice this year, but it is a good idea for the future.

Utensils and paper products

  • 4 big knives, 6 pie servers - People have supposedly bought these in the past, but they have since disappeared. This year, we got volunteers to bring utensils from home. Reportedly, there is a store in the strip district that sells pie servers for 50 cents each.
  • 3 or 4 punch bowls and 2 ladles - There is one punch bowl (sans ladle) on the refridgerator on the second floor of Smith hall. CS has another one (with ladle) in the kitchen across from Wean 4623. Dec5 has one in their supply closet, too.
  • Buy twice as many paper plates, napkins, and cups as you think you'll need (better too much than not enough). I suggest 300-400 small paper plates, 200-300 cups, 500-1000 napkins, paper table cloths or other decorations if budget allows, and paper towels (1 roll).
There may be some useful utensils, plates, and napkins in the Robo-lounge. Check the boxes (I labeled them myself) before buying anything at the store.

Setup

Start setting up about an hour before the scheduled start time.

Things to do:

  • Receive deliveries of pies, ice, drinks, etc. This year, we bought our own ice. I kept the punch and cokes outside so they would be cold.
  • Cut the cakes and pies into small pieces. USA Gourmet charges $.75 per pie to cut them. To cut cakes, the USA Gourmet rep suggested cleaning the knife between slices using a bucket of hot water.
  • Setup punch, coffee, cokes, and ice on at least two tables
  • Setup pie serving stations on three tables and divide the pies between them

Serving

Two people per pie table. Two or three to serve punch and monitor drink table Only let people have one piece of pie at a time, and only have a few pies out at each table at a given time. This will make the pies last longer.

Clean Up

Clean up. Don't necessarily rely on Dec5 to clean up (supposedly this is their responsibility). This year, they only had one person cleaning up, and he also helped set up. He would have been there all night if we hadn't helped.



By Daniel Huber ( dhuber@cs.cmu.edu)
Updated November 23, 1998 by roboorg@cmu.edu

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