An interesting weekend

by Chef Jack Fernely

BanquetI finally took a day off today. The first in quite a while.

Despite my Sous Chef slipping in grease on Saturday and losing a full pan of tri-tips right out of the oven, all is well generally and the wedding on Saturday went off almost-flawlessly, at least from my perspective.

There were far too many kids for my liking, I don't understand parents today, they seem to be clueless about their children and discipline. I cannot blame the kids, they're dragged along to these social occasions in clothes they don't like to mingle all day with people they don't know, naturally they are going to be rebellious. I felt sorry for the floor-staff having to contend with a plated service.

I tried telling the catering manager weeks earlier that a plated service for 400+ guests can very quickly become a complete nightmare for both ends of the house, next time, push for a self-serve buffet agenda and make it easier on everyone. She expected to be able to pull off synchronized table service with a minimum serving crew. I ended up throwing several kitchen people out on the floor to help keep my lines moving in the kitchen, narrowly avoiding a disaster of my own.

The catering manager came to me and said "No one is sitting where they should be!" I just smiled. and shoved two full plates into her empty hands and pushed her back onto the floor. Welcome to plated service 101. Most of the guests will table hop regardless, expecting chicken Marsala and being given baked salmon or tri-tip. Sorry, not my problem. Next time, buffet anything over 100 guests.

She's a nice enough lady but not very experienced. She made promises which were impossible to keep and paid the price. You have to keep the guest who is hosting the event cognizant of the realities involved with large scale catering functions and guide their expectations to fit what is possible.

You have to be strong enough to say 'no, that won't work for us' instead of trying to fulfill their every idiotic wish or desire. Ah well, that's life in the food chain. All well and good, an interesting day.

I hope you had an equally interesting weekend,

Chef Jack

Chef Jack Fernely- Author of The Working Chef's Edition of Classical and Traditional Sauces, Relishes, and Dressing.