Archive for August, 2009

Feeding Spartans

August 12, 2009

Greetings again fellow foodies, my apologies for the lack of updates as of late. August came in with a fury and it just now let up. I’ve done my start of the week celebratory drinking and with the customary hangover I start the new week. (I’m Irish, it’s practically required.) Any way, the last week was rather eventful, forgive the pun, with a mid sized plate up at Lake Washington Crew, followed by four the next day. (God bless competent Sous Chefs that I can leave on their own while I do the rest of the work.) But even before that we had a 300 person wedding out in the boonies of Gram. (Hence the movie reference in the title.) You know, that tucked far away spot where the richest of rich hide amongst the evergreens in houses that would give Robin Leach a heart attack. I’m not kidding. One side of a mansion down there was a waterfall that started on the roof, ran down the side of the home, culminating in a swimming pool as large as the entire ground floor of my home.

These people had bank and didn’t appear to be feeling the depression.

So it was with begrudging angst we wandered our way down into the Valley of the Rich and made it to our event site. A GIANT FIELD! Yes folks, that’s right. The doomsday scenario of all well prepared chefs. An open field with which to house and feed 300 people. And this wasn’t a padded event folks, they were young, hungry, and had few table spaces left when all was seated. Almost a 100% showing. So with an electric lamp and cold water hose at my disposal for accommodations my crew proceeded to erect a portable kitchen in the sweltering 100% heat. Now I have a bit of restaurant training so wearing a thick cotton coat didn’t bother me. But some of those servers were dying in their all black attire. It was the first, and hopefully last time I didn’t wish I was in something darker.

Time passes, and my two assistants have the satellite kitchen (which is 300 yards away on 20 degree incline near the house proper. For the appetizers, which were fairly popular. The servers couldn’t get near the core of the far end because every time they’d try to walk through the food would be swarmed from their trays before they got ten steps. These people were ravenous! 350 crab cakes with apple chutney, gone in a flash! An entire case of bruschetta cut baguette, wiped out. And while the gorgonzola cream melted in the hot July sun Nick had the brilliant idea of using the back up baguette smearing on the cream and topping with pear and nuts. An excellent save and that to went the way of the dodo. I was idly wondering if the ravenous guests were going to start gnawing on my chefs next in their quest to slake their hunger but thankfully the cocktail hour ended shortly after we ran out and they guests made their procession to the main event.

Thirty six feet of buffets met their match as the Horde settled down in waves upon my artfully crafted food. It wasn’t a small amount of items either. The Summer Cherry Salad for instance, was so popular I had to devote one chef at all times to toss more and more 30 person salads. My Sous restocked and garnished the vegetable trays and assisted me with the hot food garnish. Every time we’d close a cambro another order would come back or the same order would come in for the other buffet. It was all Nick and I could do to keep up. A shocking 23 minutes later the constant hustle ended abruptly. Just like that the Horde was satiated and none too soon. The back of the house was left in tatters. In the end, I had a stack of empty two and four inch pans up to my chest. Throw in the sheets pans and I had a tower of food encrusted metal that could crush me.

All in all despite the conditions and ravenous nature of the guests the event was well received and quite successful. We went WAY over on labor, as we’re more used to the 150-200 range of events but it was deemed necessary so alls well that ends well.

Kitchen’s closed.