Saturday, March 01, 2008

Kid Gloves

It's really strange how things work sometimes. I've catering small dinner parties every now and then, and to be honest, they're a little bit stressful. When you think about it, it makes some sense though... huge raucous parties don't really have a single focus, but when you set plates in front of six people, you can bet that everyone is taking a moment to size you up. Plus, I'm always sizing myself up a bit more too. With a few plates sitting in the kitchen, every flake of pepper out of place stands out like a sore thumb.
On the other hand, I has a fundraiser on Friday that was a whopping 420 people, and it was hands down one of the easiest things I have done in a while. The number of people was a bit overwhelming, but the menu was a simple buffet, and since it was a fundraiser, we had a dozen people volunteering to help with the dinner. The hardest part of the whole thing was wrangling the volunteers - they're great, don't get me wrong - but they aren't really going to stick their neck out too far if something goes wrong. Running low on salad, roast beef, rolls, etc.? As wonderful as they are, bet your ass they aren't going to run down to the kitchen to tell someone or get more... it's much more likely they'll say, "oh, sorry, looks like we've run out of roast beef today..." Jaded, you say? Pshaw, realistic is more like it. So Friday was easy, but most of my time was spent running around behind the tables, checking on this or that to make sure everything was flowing the way it should, and filling in the gaps when volunteers would randomly disappear to go to the bathroom or wander the hall... or go home... Believe it or not, the best of the bunch were the high school kids we had, because they're easy to psych up. Joke around with them a bit, make fun of them a little, tell them they are fantastic, and you're set.
Afterwards, of course, no matter how straightforward everything was, it helps if you look slightly frazzled, and say "whew!" under your breath as much as possible... that way, all of the people organizing the event say, "wow, you really pulled it off! 420 people! I don't know how you guys do it! Do you cater private parties?" Good times...
Did I say too much?


Squishy said...

The hotel where I was working had a buffet. It was for some reason as a chef a painful process to make sure it was full. Maybe because I just wanted to cook, not run back and forth. Not because I couldn't be bothered though, and it always managed to stay full when I was looking after it.

At my wedding recently I did a buffet for it. Can you imagine a bride running up and down the back stairs keeping the food full? But it wouldn't have been my wedding if I had not made and organized the food.

P.S. Are you getting my emails? I think it is on the fritz again, must be your server, doesn't like my address or something. I have sent you two. Let me know?

tinymango! said...

it's funny. i've worked for people/restaurants doing catering. and i swear to god, so many people just love the whole factor of being served and not working for it (and getting tipsy at events) and having them love the food is not that hard. but it's frustrating watching other professionals half ass it on food for larger groups. anyways, point is, people love food they dont cook.

i'm hoping to start doing some small parties myself, soon. cheers!

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