[Sca-cooks] Feast Dissection
susanrlin at gmail.com
Mon Jul 20 14:08:29 PDT 2009
Sounds like you did an admirable job in spite of the difficulties - Huzzah!
"brought shower caps to cover dishes" - what a great idea - I would never
have thought of that.
As for things you claim to have done "wrong" - things happen - even with the
best laid plans.
Be proud of your accomplishment.
On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 2:59 PM, Volker Bach <carlton_bach at yahoo.de> wrote:
> as I promised, here is my feast dissection as an example for others to
> learn thereby:
> First of all, what I did right:
> 1) I left plenty of air in the planning. I intended this to be a leisurely
> experience for my kitchen crew with hours of time to go off and watch the
> fighting or play games. We ended up needing every last second of that time,
> of course, but I always make a habit of leaving plenty of disposable time in
> case things go wrong.
> 2) I planned for limited facilities on the assumption that something would
> go wrong.
> 3) I wrote a flowchart that the crew could work alongside.
> Then, what I did wrong:
> 1) I did not write up full redactions and instructions. I thought that the
> translated period recipes would be enough since I had forwardeed them to
> both my deputy and my laurel. It turns out that when the going gets tough
> (my laurel could not attend due to health issues, my deputy had to jump back
> and forth between lunch and feast, and Oi was on vigil), you need recipes
> that the uninitiated kitchen helper can follow without further instructions.
> 2) I did not fully test the kitchen on first inspection. When i was at the
> site a few months before, I took pictures of the facilitiues and looked at
> their equipment, but i never actually turned on the oven or tried to plug in
> a large appliance. I was content to believe what I was told - that
> everything was in working order.
> 3) I did too many last-minute revisions (mostly due to shopping
> constraints) that i did not properly communicate to my crew. E.g. I bought
> both whoilemeal and white bread crumbs, and noth got dumped into the pudding
> so there were no more left to thicken the sauces later. I should have
> labelled the packages clearly to avoid that.
> 4) I did not do the shopping early enough. Most egregiously, I checked the
> local supermarket every second day to see that there was horseradish, but I
> didn't buy it until Friday, by which time naturally there was no more
> horseradish. I also had to use frozen cherries because too few fresh ones
> were available on the day (holiday weekend shoppers beat me to them).
> 5) I really should have figured out what was going on when I saw the guest
> list. I mean, come on, royal presence and a load of peers helicoptered in
> for a local fun-and-games gatherum in the sticks? Vigil should not have come
> as a surprise.
> 6) No vegetarians registered. Therefore, vegetable and starch dishes were
> cooked in broth. I should have known there are always last-minute
> vegetarians. there duly were, and their pudding was not finished in time for
> 7) Always check deliveries. We had a box of chickens brought in and I
> assumed they were the ones we had ordered, so I did not count them. If I had
> been there later, things might have passed without incident, but my crew
> assumed I had counted them. There were, in fact, several more than had been
> ordered, and we were obliged to pay for them and ended up with lots of
> leftover chicken meat.
> 8) Always give instructions in writing. I gave last-second instructions for
> fresh fruit shopping saturday as 'cherries, pears, no apples, no plums,
> enough for sixty'. I got apples, plums, cherries and pears, and far more
> than was needed. Now, this is me, I always make the tables groan under the
> weight of food, and I thought it was too much.
> 9) Separate instructions for servers. Even with a dedicated serving area,
> it is impossible for kitchen staff toi instruct the servers while also
> working kitchen. Stuff gets forgotten or misallocated.
> Well, that's what I could have realistically done. There was no way I could
> have headed off some of the more interesting aspects of the story:
> When the advance crew arrived on site, the place was a dump- It had looked
> all right, if a bit used, when we inspected, but it had gotten a lot worse.
> That meant we had to carry extra furniture (a folding table two field beds
> and a lot of bedding) in the car that was supposed to carry the shopping. We
> managed to get a friend to divert and meet us to carry some of the groceries
> in her car, I made my co-cook buy and transport the foodstuff for lunch, and
> we were, fortunately, not stopped by police checking for overloaded
> vehicles. Meanwhile, the advance crew had cleaned the kitchen and beaten off
> most of the roaches. I was so glad I had had a hunch and brought shower caps
> to cover dishes. Between the flies and the other creepy-crawlies, it wasn't
> easy avoiding protein surprises for diners. Shower caps and aluminiumum foil
> are our friends.
> The fun that was had with the fuses wonce dusk fell was nothing short of
> high camp. Almost every second time we plugged in anything or turned any
> knob, the lights went out. It was completely random, and a lot of
> experimenting eventually found that
> - the downstairs ovwen made the fuse pop after about 15 minutes of
> continuous use
> - no more than two electric pots worked at a time during the day, but none
> at night
> - the stick blender and toaster only worked safely upstairs
> - the upstairs kitchen only had enough juice for one pot at a time, but a
> good oven.
> We managed to redistribute the cooking chores between kitchens, and with
> much carrying things and delays, we turned out an edible meat loaf by
> I restarted kitchen work by 7 the next morning. By that time one of my
> assistants had totalled his car trying to pick someone up from the train
> station. He is that kind of person - driving shuttle service after a day of
> kitchen slaving - and it just was that kind of day (it's a miracle he
> survived the crash unhurt, really).
> Over the course of the day, we used up all the air gaps. I was not there to
> prevent a number of minor problems (the chicken got cooked too long and fell
> apart rather than stay in nice chuncks, the meat loaf got reheated unsliced
> and uncovered, so it dried out quite badly, the breadcrumbs got used up too
> early and the reserved meat juice was dumped in the pudding rather than made
> into a pepper sauce), but even with the ridiculously bad situation,
> everything listed on the flowchart was done. When I returned from my
> ceremony, I had to cook the last dessert dish in the upstairs kitchen and
> thus was not there to ensure that the fruit purees were sent out with
> dessert - they were not.
> The good points? Well, we served feast and people liked it. Everybody
> managed to improvise things on the fly as plans collapsed. Nobody lost their
> tempers much even with clueless people wandering past the sign 'Kitchen -
> staff only' to ask where to wash their dishes or to order more coffee or
> more garbage bags.
> That is about all I can think of right now. My crew is a gift from heaven.
> The kitchen was from hell. Apparently, the steward and her boyfriend are
> negotiating for a hefty discount with the siteowners. We were promised next
> time everything would work, but I'm not sure about there being a next time.
> And if I wanted to anticipate everything that went wrong here as a serious
> possibility for my nect feast, I would have to develop clinical paranoia.
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