[Sca-cooks] Current farm prices and affects on feast budgeting

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Mon Feb 18 20:46:34 PST 2008

> On Feb 18, 2008, at 8:40 PM, Terry Decker wrote:
>> Good points, but ask 'em how much they spent for the last "bad" feast.
>> Cooks who are sloppy about the cooking, tend to be sloppy on the
>> logistics
>> and the budget.  I know that Namron likes good food at a decent
>> price while
>> breaking even or making a profit.  Of course that doesn't mean that
>> the
>> feast is period, but as long as it doesn't cost more or taste worse,
>> period
>> is great.
> Part of me is insulted by that, but I know what you mean. I'd say most
> around here would pay [a little] extra to know they'd get better and
> more period food, but I can certainly understand a refusal if the
> option represented a drawback. On the other hand, if the situation
> allows for even the very idea of a straight comparison between my
> feast, or yours, and the breakfast buffet at [I was gonna say Denny's,
> but I have no real experience with them, both by choice and, more
> importantly, geography -- I'm talking about uninspired bulk fressing
> for $4.99; research suggests this is not Denny's]. I'm talking about
> the cook's version of not going on the defensive. You shouldn't have
> to remind folks that you're doing something nice for them; they're not
> doing you a favor by graciously allowing you to turn $3 worth of
> ingredients into a $25+  meal for 400.

As Duke Inman MacMoore phrased it, Ansteorra is a blue collar kingdom.  That 
means incomes are quite a bit less for many of our SCAdians and we have a 
number of people how are not particularly adventurous eaters.  Add to that a 
number of really bad "period" feasts over the years and there are some 
issues trying to sell the better and more period angle.  It helps if you 
have a reputation for delivering.

Pop meeting is tomorrow night--at Denney's.  I'll be ordering breakfast 
rather than dinner.  They do a better job on breakfast.

> Of course, it takes a little tact to keep things on that level without
> seeming like a jerk.
>> A large part of any menu planning I do is deciding
>> where to spend my dollars and where to spend my time.  I don't
>> usually tell
>> people about the trade-offs, but it might make a point.
> You might give it a try. When you serve people Taillevent's boneless,
> stuffed, gilt-glazed roast chicken, it's really grossly unfair to say
> that chickens are $.69 a pound, so you should be able to do that and
> several other comparable dishes for $3 a head.
> I don't know about you, but I started doing SCA feasts when I was
> about 23. I'd think nothing of coming home from my full-time job,
> doing kitchen prep through the night, washing the pork out of my hair
> and going back to work for three days out of the five immediately
> before my feast. I thought nothing of hefting full, 80-quart
> stockpots, standing on my feet without a break for 16 hours or more,
> and diving headfirst into the occasional convection oven.  I realize
> now that I've been doing this for about half of my life, and I just
> can't physically do that sort of thing regularly anymore.

I started doing feasts about 29 and that was almost 30 years ago.  I don't 
bounce back the way I used to, so the time between feasts is getting longer. 
I still put in 2 to 3 16 hour days, but I feel it.  I'm getting more 
pleasure out of baking for other cooks these days than hammering out a major 

> I have to find shortcuts, and sometimes that involves spending a
> little more on some of my ingredients, and that's not even counting
> inflation. I'm not going to stand there and try to blackmail my group,
> but they do understand that if they want to spend less for a feast
> than they would for breakfast or a burger at the local diner, it's
> possible they may not get the same feast as they would if I had a
> little input on my budget. We do what we can; more than that we cannot
> do, and so far, that has been regarded as more than enough. And I've
> been lucky.

I'm to the point I let people ask me to take on the job.  I'll give them a 
menu and a budget with a projected break even and profit, then let them 
decide whether they want me to do it or not.  The fact that they are coming 
to me means they want something special, so I don't have to argue much about 

>>  I moight also
>> invite the finance committee to assist me in the prep work and save
>> the
>> Barony even more money.
> I think this is a terrific idea. A little pork in their hair is just
> what some people need to understand that elusive balance of
> inspiration and perspiration. They may simply think Bear, or whoever,
> likes this sort of thing, he's good at it, he can just wave his magic
> wand and it all gets done magically, right?

The finance committee knows better, but I think some of the populace 
believes that a feast is just a family dinner for 200.

> One thing I do, and I admit it is an utter conceit, is sit out in the
> feast hall in some... less than hidden... location after the last of
> the food goes out, trying my best to look like an ace starting pitcher
> in a baseball game sitting on the bench after being replaced by the
> closer with a lead in the ninth inning. Arrogant? You bet. But what
> I'm going after is for a little exposure of how difficult (or at
> least, how not easy, if you get the distinction I'm trying to make)
> the job can be, as people approach and feel the heat and steam
> emanating from me, so they won't just dismiss what we do as a bunch of
> nuts having such a good time they can be exploited. Well, we generally
> _are_ a bunch of nuts, but even a bunch of nuts appreciates please,
> thank you, and what can we do to help?
> Adamantius

I tend to walk the tables to see if my vision made it to the table.  I 
started the habit after Erlich du Battenhelm and I salvaged the feast in the 
kitchen at the first Calontir Crown Tourney and then found out afterwards 
that the layout and the service had left half the tables without food.

One of my greatest pleasures was realized at the Kingdom A&S where Gunthar 
displayed.  I was introduced to a gentleman I don't remember ever meeting 
previously and he said, "I know who you are.  I've been to your feasts." 
That was part of the pay-off for all the work.


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