"Are you crazy?" I laughed loudly when one of my awesome chef friends who helps us at large events and makes the most fabulous sushi said that to me a few years ago. I will always remember that question as we stood next to each, sweat pouring down our backs while we garnished plates with braised short ribs with a parsley-orange gremolata for 300 guests, one after another like production soldiers of food. Service staff are running around us filling water pitchers with ice, dishwashers are ripping though huge piles of dirty salad plates and cooks are frantically pulling salmon fillets out of the oven.
Many people say that with questioning eyes when they hear how many events we cater in one day or take on feats such as barbecuing in the middle of the wilderness for 100 police officers and firefighters or plating a dinner for 450 people in a location that is not equipped to accommodate such an event at all.
We get that a lot. Sometimes in the quest for business and problem with saying "No," we bite off a Big Hunk. However, there is nothing as satisfying, exhilarating or adventurous than our catering expeditions (well to me anyhow)!
This week we catered a plated dinner for 150 guests at Centennial Hall, a convention center in downtown Juneau. The event was for JEDC's Innovation Summit. Inside the ballroom, people are listening to speakers and clapping. There are smiles everywhere, guests are sipping their wine and it's generally very quiet except for the sound of the speaker's voice. Then you tiptoe down the hall, open the kitchen doors to the left and there is the crew and I in full action...crashing, rushing, pushing. We're hauling spicy tiger prawn skewers out of the roaring oven, stirring basil-scented orzo and tasting the delicate saffron sauce to pair with grilled garlicky chicken. I'm looking at the clock every five minutes, gesturing for the prep cooks to pull out serving utensils and making sure the plates are getting hot in the warming box, which is set to 175 degrees F.
As we run around like hopping baby chicks, lining up the food, getting ready to plate, there is a sense of urgency, barely contained restraint and then like a giant puzzle, all the pieces come together in one final ultimate moment.
After the whirling storm, it's a nice peaceful line of staff, doing their one specific job given to them to make sure each guest gets a delicious, carefully arranged, warm plate of food.
So yes, maybe I am a little crazy, but it's so worth it.