Sunday, July 10, 2011

Isaac's Bar Mitzvah

May 13, 2011:
I am over at my friend Dale's eating pizza, drinking beer and planning the menu for his son's Bar Mitzvah. He is doing the catering himself using my kitchen and with me helping. Dale has all sorts of idea's about the menu, but is settling on a "Jewish deli" theme. We are going to have corned beef, pastrami, salami sandwiches, egg salad, smoked salmon, kugel and an assortments of desserts made by his wife Amy. He wants to know how much meat he needs to buy, and we are figuring out the pounds based on how many people will be there. He wants to corn his own beef and cure his pastrami. He is also going to brew the beer for his guests. After a lot of arguing, we settle on the menu, amounts of food and I leave.

June 20, 2011:
Today is the day that we need to start corning the beef and Dale has a million things going on and has not shown up. He has printed out the recipe and has brought in the corned beef and the spices but doesn't have the corning salt. His recipe calls for Salt Peter which is now impossible to buy because you can use it in making explosives. Great-we could be arrested for being terrorists just because he doesn't want to buy someone's corned beef. He is checking with a local meat curer to see what he can use.

June 21, 2011:
The meat curer sold Dale some pickling salt and gave him a better method for curing the beef. He comes by the shop and shows me the method and mixes the salt brine and immerses the briskets. Later that night he calls me to ask me to check on the beef. We need to turn it each day and he is afraid it is not covered enough by the brine. I check it and it looks fine.

June 24, 2011:
Amy walks into the kitchen with a long look on her face. Dale has been making his home brew for the party and has just bottled up about 6 gallons. I say that is great and she gives me this look. Dale had put the bottles in the dishwasher to sterilize and Amy had put some rinse aid in the dishwasher a week or so before. Apparently the rinse aid causes the beer not to foam once it is bottled and Dale is sure the beer is ruined and he has no time to make another batch. Grim...

July 4, 2011:
Dale comes in during the day to drain the meat and rub the seasonings over the briskets. He tightly wraps it in film and refrigerates it. I need to turn it every day. I look at it the next morning and tell him it looks ruined. He almost has a stroke. No sense in letting him relax!

July 5. 2011:
Amy is starting to go into overdrive on the desserts and Dale comes in late in the day with a pile of groceries. I am getting constant updates via text on the different problems with his suppliers. We take time to marinate the pastrami.

July 5, 2011:
Both Dale and Amy are in the kitchen today and every day until Friday night. We have two menu's to prepare. One is for Saturday after the service, and the second is for the party Saturday night. The walk-in is packed with his food as well as mine for what I am working on during the week for my orders. I am starting to go crazy with all of the extra commotion. Amy is doing Black and White cookies, rugala, a Rice Krispie cake, brownie bites, my French cinnamon puffs and beach bars, and lemon bars. Oh, and the beer is OK.

July 7, 2011:
Dale is making egg salad, chicken salad and herring salad for the luncheon. He is totally behind, but has a friend, Luis, coming in to help him catch up. Even though Dale has taken the week off, he is constantly on his cell phone dealing with his work issues. Fortunately, Luis has a written schedule and plows through the days work. I have been swamped all week with my own catering and not much help, but did put in the beef to cook early in the morning. I get caught up on my stuff after lunch and dive in to help. Luis has most every thing done for the day. Dale looks at me and says "I can relax now that Luis has everything done". Amy has been out all day on various errands and hasn't done much else on the desserts. This drives Dale crazy and I start to worry that they will get divorced over the stress of this. She comes in late and starts on desserts.

July 8, 2011:
Amy and Steve have gone off to smoke the salmon. She had made an amazing amount of things last night after I left. It seems like she has a handle on the desserts. Dale has finished the menu for the lunch and is working on the menu for the dinner. We argue more about the quantities of food he has ordered. I think he may be cutting it short on a few items, but defer to his judgement. We slice the beef, cheese, make the coleslaw, and finish other details. Steve and Amy finally show up with the salmon mid-afternoon. The salmon smells good, but the whole walk-in smells like smoke. We make the cream cheese spreads for the bagels-plain, vegetable herb, and smoked trout. They taste delicious, but the vegetable is a little orange. We add more parsley and go with it. Amy shows up to do desserts and Dale leaves. They are at each others throats. I help Amy dip some cookies at the end and dip the brownie bites, but need to leave before 5:00 to get to the bank. Amy continues working after I leave with Luis and Eddie. I figure they will be there until 7:00 or 8:00. There are a lot of desserts to finish.

July 9, 2011:
This is it. Dale has come by early to pick up the food for the lunch. I just need to show up a couple of hours early to help plate up things for the buffet. He has a staff there, and I ask Luis what time they finished on Friday night. He surprises me by saying they were done by 6:00. We get the salmon platters out, the salads, cream cheeses and platters of freshly sliced fruits, as well as Amy's desserts and the Torah cake she made. We are done and ready to go by 12:00 and his friends come out of the service and line up at the buffet lines. Everyone is through by 12:30.
My plan is to leave and go play a gig with my band at 1:30 until 3:30 and then meet Amy at 4:00 to load the food for dinner and head for the cave where the party is to set it up. I get there after my gig at 4:00 and Amy is running around the kitchen loading food onto carts. I hear her talking to one of her friends and realize she hasn't made the Rugala, and is planning on starting it now. I put my food down and axe that plan. There isn't time. Besides, we find two pans of cookies that she had missed icing, so we jump on finishing that. After the food is loaded we head to the cave where the party is. After it is unloaded, Dale turns to me and asks where the beer is. I look at him blankly. "I have no idea-where is it"? He tells me it is in my walk-in, so I jump back in the van and head back to the shop to get the beer. Yep, right on the floor in the middle. How did I miss it? It wouldn't have fit anyway. I race back with the beer and extra ice and his crew is busy setting up the buffet line. At this point I am supposed to be a guest, but keep drifting back to the kitchen area to help with sandwiches, etc. It helps to have a beer in my hand. 7:15 arrives and the buffet is set and people start through. It's finally over. Dale and Amy look tired but totally happy. Everyone loves the menu and the food.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Corrie and Mark's Wedding

January 1, 2010
1:00 PM
My niece Corrie is getting married tomorrow and I am catering the wedding and doing the wedding cake. I am over at the church setting up the tables and cloths for the reception. My sister Nancy just arrived with some of her in-lawsfromher other daughter's wedding to help set up the room. I keep bringing in chaffers and glassware while they are setting centerpieces. I think about the cake we are doing for Corrie. The top two layers are white with a mocha filling, the third layer is a spice cake with a molasses filling and the bottom layer is butterscotch. Butterscotch cake is my favorite cake. Amy and I have baked the cake and both of us have been working on icing and decorating it.

As I am finishing bringing in all the glassware, I hear Nancy mention that Marc told her last night that a bunch of the couple's friends are coming to the wedding even though they didn't respond with an RSVP. She is thinking there could be 140 people instead of 100. This is an offhand comment by her, but my heart stops when I hear her say it. I call her over. "Nancy-140 people is a lot more than 100." I think about what thestaff is preparing. We have a good and varied menu planned: sliced tenderloin with small buns and a horse-radish sauce, grilled salmon, grilled pineapple and shrimp skewers, stuffed new potatoes Romanoff, stuffed mushrooms, Gougere cheese puffs, chicken tarragon salad in filo cups, Rumaki, stuffed dates with goat cheese and wrapped with Prosciutto, imported cheeses and seasonal fruits and grilled vegetables. It is a nice menu that should make a good light meal at 4:30 for everyone, but I am planning on 100. I think about my brother David. I remember that he just hovered over the shrimp and caviar at my wedding and I begin to get panicky that we will run out of food. Nancy seems to think that we will just make do, but I worry about those last 40 people going from station to station not finding anything to eat. I decide that I need to get more food. I usher them out of the church and head to my wholesale market to get more provisions. They are closed.

January 2, 2010
9:30 AM
Two of my daughters, Ashley and Shelley and her baby Eleanor arrived last night and are here for the wedding. We are having breakfast together and I am still worrying about getting the rest of the food together for Corrie's wedding. I finish up making breakfast, get a second cup of coffee and head out the door for the wholesaler. I get more tenderloin, more shrimp, more Prosciutto, more filo cups and head back to the shop to grill the tenderloin and shrimp. I know I have more cheese, plenty of vegetables and enough potatoes. I decide to fill more mushrooms while I am grilling the tenderloin. All of a sudden I remember about the salmon. I have 6 sides and would have bought two more if I had remembered. Now it is too late. I can't go back. I cut the salmon into pieces and pipe some cream cheese on each piece. I have about 180 pieces and decide that is plenty. I try to relax.

2:00 PM

I call Brian. I don't think I can get everything loaded in time to get to the church and I need him to come and help. He shows up about 30 minutes later and we get the food and the cake loaded and head over. Amy and I unload the cake and finish setting it up and decorating it. Dudley helps add flowers and I move on to directing the staff to get the buffet ready. Rich and Shirley and Ann all look at me like I am some sort of nervous Nelly. We get the buffet ready and it is time for the wedding. I run upstairs and sit next to Lisa behind Nancy and Bill. Corrie looks beautiful, but I am wondering how the staff is doing downstairs. I take a quick count of the guests. It looks closer to 100 than 140. I know we will be fine on the food and as the wedding ends I sprint downstairs. Everything is set and the room looks great. The guests are right behind me and we open the buffet. Everyone has plenty to eat.