Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let's Get Cooking...

After a derail in New Jersey and New York for a few days, I've returned home to prep for this weekends' catering gigs. It's now Wednesday night and I'm scrambling to put together my final lists for my vendors and of course, waiting on clients for the final numbers. I have three parties on Saturday with estimates of 100, 70, and 40 guests.

After securing one menu, I tried to sell the same items to the other two clients. Streamlining any of the prep is always ideal. But it didn't work. I only have one item overlapping between two of the events. My shopping lists are long and varied, from crab meat and tenderloin to fresh figs and brie. The most involved menu is below. Nothing is complicated to prepare, but there is just a lot of different items.

Antipasto Station. To Include:
Prosciutto Wrapped Grissini
Orange and Thyme Scented Oil-Cured Olives
Artichoke Hearts and Mozzarella Salad
Assorted Cured Meats and Italian Cheeses
Grilled Vegetables, Crumbled Goat Cheese, Snipped Chives

Mediterranean Station. To Include:
Grilled Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Fresh Basil
Toasted Pita with Hummus, Baba Ganoush, and Tzatziki
Mediterranean Lamb Kebabs over Cherry Tomato-Red Onion Salad
Roasted Red Beet Salad with Watercress, Feta, and Pomegranate, Orange Honey Vinaigrette

Assorted Skewers:
Tequila Lime Chicken with Cilantro Dip
Charred Shrimp with Red-Onion Port Sauce
Caprese Skewers with Pesto

Assorted Canap├ęs:
Curry Chicken Salad on Pompadums
Citrus Crab Salad in Cucumber Cup
Goat Cheese Mousse in Parmesan Cups, Candied Red Onion
Figs in a Blanket: Fresh Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto
Beef Tenderloin on Horseradish Cream and Caramelized Onions

Assorted Mini Pastries

This menu combined with the other two means I have to be creative with refrigerator space. It's times like these when I'm glad I live in New England. Worst case scenario, I can store items outside overnight. To add to all of the confusion, Boston is due for a foot of snow on Friday. I will be hunkered down in my kitchen chopping, dicing and searing, but last minute trips to the store will be unlikely. I must check and recheck my lists and work efficiently given the time constraints and potential weather.

My plan of attack:
I will spend Thursday morning placing final orders, including pastries, rentals, breads, and ice. I'm going to order my produce this evening and pick it up tomorrow. Delivery is available but I've never once received an order that is 100% correct. It's just easier for me to look things over in their shop so I can check the quality and make sure the order is complete. If they deliver and forget something, it could be hours until they make their way back to me. In addition to my produce vendor, I will also head to my restaurant supply store for meats, cheeses, and dry goods. I should be back to my kitchen by noon and after taking an hour to unload and organize, I should be ready to get cooking by 1.

I plan to have a long day Thursday so I can spend Friday finishing last minute things and getting organized and ready for Saturday. It takes a decent amount of time to gather everything needed for both front and back of the house service. This includes all cooking equipment and tools necessary for cooking on site as well as passing and serving platters, risers, table decor, serving utensils, coffee necessities, and aprons for staff. I also review each menu and prepare garnishes for each dish. I keep things simply, garnishing only with items used in those specific dishes, typically using lots of fresh herbs. I also print out invoices and menus, and package half a dozen truffles that I leave as a 'thank you' gift for each client.

I'm working the event with the above menu and looking forward to it. I love seeing my ideas become reality and observing the guests reactions. The true test is how many business cards are left by the end of the evening. I'm pushing to really impress this weekend. It's my first December in business and word of mouth is my best marketing tool. This weekend could really boost my sales for 2009.

Wish me luck!


michelle @ TNS said...

ooh, just looking at that list gives me so many ideas for christmas brunch!

and that's just for one of the gigs? how in the hell do you do more than one in a weekend - whoa.

Pallavi said...

Good Luck for this weekend! After you conquer this and when you get some time, can you post the recipe of the Tequila Lime Chicken with the dip... it sure sounds very appetizing :)

foodbin said...

when business is good-it's stressful but satisfying!