[Sca-cooks] Feast costs/budgets

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Wed Feb 20 11:16:08 PST 2008

On Feb 20, 2008, at 12:35 PM, Nick Sasso wrote:

> I think that there are some people in this world who can look at a  
> piece of
> cloth and see the garment, a piece of stone and see the scultpure.   
> You and
> I had a discourse several years back about being able to see/think/ 
> envision
> in tastes and textures.  Not everyone has the ability, and not  
> everyone can
> learn it.

I suspect this is true, which is why I wouldn't recommend it as a  
teaching tool.

> I have always written rcipes in case of disaster response . . .

This is a failure of mine I must resolve to improve on. I think it's  
that whole "cognizance of one's own mortality" thing. Why would we  
need such detailed notes? I'll be there. What could possibly go wrong???

Well, okay, no comment needed on all that ;-). What I used to do,  
generally, was work with an original, period recipe, then generate an  
ingredients list with quantities for each dish, total them all up, and  
generate a shopping list from that. If we were going to deviate from  
the period recipe in any major way I'd annotate it to that effect.  
Then I'd post the period recipes with any notes, and the per-dish  
ingredients list for each. Schedule? What's that? The menu is usually  
constructed in three courses, with a mixture of hot and cold foods  
going out in the first course, the second course already waiting on a  
sideboard (roasts and pottages, etc., that can stay hot for a good  
while, plus cold sauces, sallets, etc. with as much as possible pre- 
plated. One cook and the head server can easily put together the  
second course, leaving room for me and the other cooks to start the  
third course, to be comprised mostly of dishes that can be cooked and  
plated in an hour, to be started very shortly after the first course  
goes out.

But yes, a trip to the emergency room, say, would be a big problem, I  
expect. Nobody is irreplaceable, but there's no point in begging for  
it. As I say, I need to work on this; it's just a little extra work.  
One skill I've been actively working on of late has been in writing  
recipes in a third of a page which used to require three pages for the  
same dish, with no sacrifice of reproducible results.

> . and only
> two recipes have I ever tested ahead of time.  Both were "failures"  
> and
> unused only they didn't fit the menu.

I usually only test the recipes that present me with a process I can't  
predict; the kind of thing like when someone posts here that they're  
making almond-cream-filled eggs, and the discussion actually makes me  
get up and go to the kitchen because there's just no other way to  
answer the question...

>  Though they both turned out as I
> envisioned them, though.  I have a bit of confidence in my ability to
> communicate to others what I envisioned, and can put it on paper for  
> others
> to read and perform.  If it just stays in my head, then no chance it  
> will
> succeed as a feast item . . . I cannot perform 26 dishes myself for  
> 150+
> people and survive.

Usually what I try to do is express processes in known terms, usually  
in terms of a modern food I figure the other person will be familiar  
with, so I'll say something like, "We're looking for this to thicken  
like a white sauce like you might make for macaroni and cheese..."

Of course, it helps if the other person has made macaroni and cheese  
with a white sauce ;-).

> One particular event will always stand out as a triumphant weekend  
> that I
> worked with Serena da Riva and a group of people who truly  
> transcended to
> create a weekend of food that was far more than the menu and recipes  
> and
> planning would have suggested.  All the planning and recipes and  
> stuff would
> have been great anyway . . . but sometyhing happened that weekend  
> that I
> just cannot quantify.  YIKES!! That was six years ago now.  The  
> three of us
> primary cooks did some mighty fine work together for a few years  
> there in
> Meridiean kitchens.

Oh, it's a real blessing to have a team of experienced cooks familiar  
with your thought processes. If they can finish your sentences it's  
even better ;-). When you've got that, it's a true "music of the  
spheres" experience.


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