How to make veggie chilli for 200 people



When Mookychick’s editor and co-founder Magda Knight got married recently (yay) in a woodland DIY wedding (known by all as ‘Weddingfest’), she needed to feed 200 people with no refridgeration or running water, using only equipment that could run off a gas bottle…. enter Lea and veggie one-pot cooking to the rescue!

I was really excited about my marriage this year – it was my big chance to gather the tribes in a leafy autumnal woodland with swinging sofas, treehouses, children running wild, fantastic bands a-plenty, and camping for those who wanted it. But how to feed 200 people? Etiquette demanded I couldn’t leave starving, booze-addled wedding guests to forage for nuts and grubs.


Lea chopping 33 red onions. Who said steampunk goggles aren’t useful?

A cunning plan was required. Fortunately, Lea Mazzocchi (Weddingfest Best Woman and all-round superstar) had a plan that was as cunning as a cunning fox engaging in cunninglingus! It involved one-pot cooking. OF COURSE IT DID. There’s nothing you can’t do with a giant pot with a 57cm radius. It’s… metaphors and similes aside, it’s a bloody big pot, actually.


Lea’s tiny kitchen filled with food

Here’s what Lea put in the pot to make chilli sin carne for all:

Wedding veggie chilli recipe for 200 people

  • 3 bottles of oil
  • 33 stock pots
  • 2 bottles of red wine
  • 33 red onions
  • 3 tubes of garlic puree
  • 66 peppers
  • 33 courgettes
  • 35 tins of kidney beans
  • 4 tubes of tomato puree
  • 66 tinned tomatoes
  • chilli powder
  • cayenne pepper
  • paprika
  • 1 bottle of Henderson’s Relish (a veggie alternative to Worcester sauce)
  • 1 bottle of tabasco
  • 5kg lentils
  • 66 carrots

I was both shocked and delighted when Lea Facebook messaged me with the ingredients above. Mostly delighted, because 33 red onions for one dish hahahahahah…

To see Lea’s full recipe for the same vegetarian chilli (in slightly less epic quantities to feed 4-6 people), you can head along to her veggie chilli recipe on her wonderful blog, In For a Penny Cooking. It’s such a warm, lovely place to be.

The benefits of vegetarian one-pot cooking at a DIY wedding

One-pot cooking  is a great way to feed the five thousand. You can do it cheaply (especially if you have a Macro wholesalers card or you hit the cheaper supermarkets like Aldi, Lidl or your local equivalent). You can, as the name suggests, do one-pot cooking in one big pot, which you can either buy or hire from a local catering company, which means minimal set-up, transportation and cleaning.


Guests serve themselves. Yay for recycled cutlery and napkins

If you’re doing a one-off event in a woodland, I strongly recommend hiring equipment like tea urns, gas bottle cookers and large catering trays for storing food. It all works out pretty cheap and you’re unlikely to use that stuff again.

If you keep your DIY wedding feast recipe vegetarian or vegan, it means you can cook in advance, re-heat on the day, and do it all with minimal power using gas bottles and no refridgeration, because there are no ingredients in the chilli that are likely to go off in a hurry. You really don’t want food poisoning on the day!


DIY Weddingfest chili was served in a ‘graze when you want to’ way

Extra DIY wedding feast nibbles

  • All the wine – I believe low quality reds are more drinkable than low quality whites, if you’re looking where to scrimp on costs. Mind you, I’ll be honest, I went for cheapest all round. The guests were kind-hearted about it and had their fill. What more could I ask?
  • All the bottled water – dehydration is not good
  • Recycled plates, cutlery and napkins – wholesalers do these very cheaply, and it helps to respect the environment at a woodland wedding
  • Rice (if you hire a rice cooker) or tortillas and taco shells as no-cook carb sides for the chilli
  • Cheap hot dogs and brioche buns with veggie options – these are cheap when you buy in quantity, can be stored at room temperature forever and can be cooked in the same big pot you did the veggie chilli in, with guests building the hot dogs themselves, leaving less work for the volunteer food elves
  • Crisps
  • Nuts
  • Savoury party snacks bought from supermarkets at the last minute to increase food variety but minimise risk of food poisoning
  • A bit of salad bought at the last minute – leave guests to add separate dressings to allow for food intolerances
  • Tray-bakes – if you do want wedding cake for all, tray-bakes are a cheap and delicious way to provide sweet morsels for the masses
  • Encourage a touch of pot-luck, where guests are invited to bring bits and bobs if they choose. We ended up with some wonderful salads that way!