I can now relate to the expressions “get it out of your system” and “well you don’t know if you don’t try” and even “there is only way to find out”. The most I have ever cooked for, in a single seating, is 35 dinner guests. That was challenging and that is an understatement.
In March, I agreed to be the chef for an 80 person sit down, 5 course meal at The Martyn House. That is my Mom’s Glamping B&B, and her voice coercing me into it, that I heard on the other end of the phone. Yeah, that’s me, the sucker on the other end of the phone.
I arrived to her farm on Tuesday night, cocky and confident. Easy Breezy might have been a few words I chose to use. Eighty Schmeighty a few more. Yeah, confidence is rewarded – cockiness is schooled.
Everything was going along swimmingly on Wednesday and Thursday. All the farmers showed up with their uber generous food donations of fresh local goat cheese, chickens, herbs, asparagus, onions, chives, radishes, strawberries, spinach, butter and even lavender and honey. We chatted local farming and I knew that my cooking was just the gift wrap on these amazing gifts from the earth. A bounty of grass fed local beef flank & skirt steaks and pork tenderloins rounded out my menu and I was feeling like the maestro in front of her orchestra.
On Thursday I finished the Chilled Roasted Asparagus & Cucumber Soup. I had 20 portions at best. Woops. That was when I said, “Gee, 80 is alot.” My greatest understatement of this decade.
On Friday, soup now for 80, the happy elves and proprietors of the B&B sang and danced under sunny warm skies, dressing tables and prepping final dishes. A bus of 80 travel writers, from across the US, were on a Georgia Mountain Tourism Tour and would be arriving at 5:30pm to critique and experience my food and Mom’s farm. I didn’t mention that was the 80? Silly me. Yes, my 80 guests were strangers. Hungry strangers who wrote for nationally published glossy magazines. Strangers who could be new BFFs or new reasons to toss the frying pan out the window.
At 3PM, a tornado touched down just outside the farm. We stood on the porch and watched wind and rain bend trees, thrash tents, soak linen covered dining tables and bring tears to my Mom’s eyes. At 3:05PM, I hugged her and said, its only rain. It’s not in our control. It will work out, one way or another.
At 3:30PM the rains went and left a dry partly cloudy sky. That was good. Then the power and water went out. That was not so good.
Mom came to the house with tears again to say, I am just going to take a shower and get ready and center myself. Yeah, that would have been a good plan if there was water.
I scrambled, she scrambled, we all scrambled. The bus arrived at 5:45. The band started. The wine tasting tent started pouring. The passed apps ….started passing. The weather was breezy and warm. The mood was relaxed and the pace was slow. Travel writers took pen to paper and eyes to cameras.
I cooked. I plated. I expedited plates. I garnished and I served 80 amazing plates, times 4 courses. I had an amazing team that made that possible.
Watching fire dancers close out the evening performances with a glass of wine in hand, I felt truly accomplished. I felt great about the food I served. I was proud of serving 80 guests a meal that was local, organic and homemade.
I also felt sure I would never do it again…Dinner Impossible ended a success. No need to test the gods a 2nd time.
PS….A giant heartfelt thanks to all of you that braved the “storms” and made this dinner a reality. – MOM, Rick, Alison, Elaine, Beverly, Chipster, Rachael & crew.