[Sca-cooks] kitchen tips

Antonia Calvo ladyadele at paradise.net.nz
Tue Aug 19 15:20:17 PDT 2008

Gaylin Walli wrote:

>Not too long ago, I published a question on the Middle Kingdom Cooks list
>asking what kind of tips people had come up with for working in SCA
>kitchens. I wasn't interested in the "Make sure you have a plan" sort of
>suggestions, or "Use Excel" kind of tips, but things a bit more practical,
>such as "If you run out of pasty bags, try using a zippered plastic bag with
>the corner cut off"
Ah.  That's actually where having a plan and using a spread sheet would 
have been helpful-- also, not stuffing about with pastry bags on feast 
day :-)

>and "When shopping in bulk for some of your feast
>supplies, wear a modern chef's jacket."

I find that talking to people about what I'm doing has helped me connect with suppliers and sometimes even find some common ground.  Many food suppliers understand about niche gourmet interests and a few even know a little about Medieval food.  

Anyway, honestly, all the important stuff is the high-level stuff-- budgeting, shopping, staff management, advance prep strategies...

Anyway, some tips...

1. If you haven't already, read "Rob Peter to Feed Paul: Halving Feast Costs" http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/recipes/rprf.sca.feasts.html
2. If you haven't already, learn how to say no-- you can use it when presented with insufficient budgets or inadequate kitchens.  Learning how to negotiate is also good.  If your group think it's normal to make up a tiny number for the budget, pick out a venue and then look for a cook-- break them of it. 
3. Get a good team together and use them. If you aren't comfortable with telling people what to do, learn. It is an essential skill in all but the smallest feast kitchens.
4. Remember the Great Chain of Being.  It goes God -> Cooks and the Pope -> Stewards -> Kings -> Everybody Else. 
5. Do whatever it takes to ensure that when the feast is set to begin at 6, everyone is at seated at table with spoons at the ready at 5:59.
6. Only cook food that is delicious. 
7. Read, read, read-- practical catering guides, period sources, modern cookbooks, anything you can get your paws on. 
8. Never hesitate to approach a restaurant/catering supplier-- they can be surprisingly helpful to small customers. 
9. Unless you _really_ know what you're doing, pre-test every recipe. 

and some more practical tips

10. The number of meatballs that can be eaten by any group is (x + 1)n where n is the number of people and x is any reasonable number. Fortunately, cooked meatballs freeze and reheat really well. 
11. Most recipes that require simmering can be adapted to "simmer" in a low oven.   
12. Never, never assume that the amount of liquid in a stewed dish will scale up exactly. 
13. The amount of rice people will eat is n(x - 1)/2.  Rice for a crowd is most easily cooked in an oven.
14. When roasting, one big cut of meat is nearly always better value than several small ones. 

Antonia di Benedetto Calvo

Habeo metrum - musicamque,
hominem meam. Expectat alium quid?
-Georgeus Gershwinus

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