Thursday, December 11, 2008

'Tis the Season for Holiday Parties

This weekend I'm catering a holiday party for fifty guests. It's at the home of the client. She's in the process of building an addition on the home and 'hoping' that it's done in time for the party. I am, too. Part of the addition is half of a basketball court, where she is anticipating the guests will dance the night away. (I guess that economy thing hasn't hit Sudbury yet).

I'm preparing passed hors d'oeuvres and a lot of the them. I only serve my items on silver platters and don't overcrowd the platter to showcase the individual beauty of each piece. Stressing her concern about having enough food, the client has requested two pieces of each item per person. So, 100 pieces. They include:

  • Trio of Brie-Phyllo Cups: Fig Chutney, Tomato Confit, and Candied Pecans
  • Beef Tenderloin on Crostini with Horseradish Cream and Caramelized Onions
  • Ginger Chicken Skewer with Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Figs in-a Blanket: Black Mission Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto
  • Caprese Skewers with Pesto
  • Shao-Mai: Pork, Shrimp and Vegetable Dumplings
  • Smoked Salmon Tartare with Lemon Crème Fraiche on Toast Points

The great thing about this menu is that everything can be done the day before. Unless I'm totally swamped, I prefer not to make most things two days ahead. It does depend on the food. Vinaigrettes, dips, dressing and marinates are fine to make ahead of time. It's just about keeping things fresh and using common sense. The way a refrigerator creates moisture and makes everything smell the same grosses me out. Over time, there are just some things you learn. For example, lettuce should only be prepped the same day of service. It must be washed and completely dried. Only slice tomatoes on the same day of use. Make all sandwiches the same day of service.

My catering philosophy is simple: keep things fresh, looking spectacular and tasting phenomenal. Other things that comes into play include service, of course. You could have the best meal of your life and not remember anything about it if the service sucks.

Most of the catering I do are drop-offs. I'll bring the food, set everything up, and pick everything up the following day. I prefer to do this because it frees up time on my end. I would bring in more money with the labor charge, but it's always where clients cut first when estimates are over-budget.

It's the end of my prep day and I'm exhausted. I started at 7 A.M. and am just sitting down now (it's 9:45 P.M.) I had a few sips of beer to relax and now I feel my eyes lids fluttering. This is what happens in December. You go, go, go until it's done. You have no choice. It's a lot right now because I do everything myself. I will be up tomorrow morning at 6 A.M. to make 40 wraps sandwiches and pinting twenty pounds of curry chicken salad for one of my corporate accounts.

Steady week coming up and then four events next weekend.


Jo Anne said...

Let me know when you're in the market to start bringing on employees. I'm back in computers and video games but people always ask me why I'm not working in food.

foodbin said...

you're a superwoman