After last weekend’s eye-opening experience in Montecito, I felt a little bit more confident facing my first career obstacle as an aspiring caterer. My friend GW was throwing a bridal shower for her good friend at her house on a Sunday afternoon. One night, while on the phone…
GW: “So I’m the Maid of Honor for my friend’s wedding.”
Me: “That sucks. Why is she getting married so early?”
GW: “She found the one. So now I’m throwing a party for her at my house.”
GW: “You should cater it haha.”
Me: “I’m down.”
GW: “I’m just kidding, you don’t have to –“
Me: “I’m serious.”
GW: “Well then…”
After about two weeks of planning, we (GW and the Bride) decided on a menu. As we got closer to the date, I started to get a little bit nervous. I started to question myself and put myself in the hot seat. It was like I was in a dark interrogation room answering the questions of faceless voices with a hot beaming light from Ikea over my head. Will they like the food? What if there are vegetarians? Will the food run out? And more importantly, where would I find the room to do all of this? Certainly not at my West LA shack. For 5 days, these questions were like protons and neutrons bouncing inside my head like a nuclear reaction. I was going crazy. But that’s what parents are for. I called them and knighted them as my Sous Chefs - they gladly accepted. They weren’t happy about working for $0/hr though haha.
GW and I met on Saturday afternoon to do all of our grocery shopping. The night before, I had packed all of my weapons (cookware, utensils, herbs and sauces) and written out the ingredient list. Everything was going well, until I forgot that I had left my notebook on a shopping cart at our first destination. With only an hour left before I had to get to The Restaurant, there was no way I could’ve gone back to find the notebook. So we sat there and went thru every single item, and after 15 minutes, we were good to go with the ingredients. Done. Only half a day before judgment day.
I woke up at 7:30 am the next day. The night before, I clocked in 11 hours at The Restaurant. I could not move. I could barely keep my eyes open. I was this close to calling it quits because I was completely exhausted. I debated another 30 minutes of sleep but we all know what happens... 30 minutes becomes an hour and a half. Waking up at the moment was critical - it was the difference between having a fun, fulfilling career as a caterer or being out on the streets or working at Initech like Milton. But I couldn’t let GW down. I woke up the Sous Chefs and immediately wrote up the menu on a sheet of paper. Here’s what I served:
A. Bosc Pear, Candied Walnut & Goat cheese salad with Lemon/Honey Vinaigrette
B. Smoked Salmon and Dill/Sour Cream on Crispy Wonton Skins
C. Vietnamese Glass Rolls with Sweet Pork and Thai Basil (Sweet n’ Sour sauce)
D. Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin glaze
E. Crispy Prosciutto Roasted Asparagus with Lemon
F. Wild Mushroom Risotto with White Truffle Oil
G. Baby Spinach & Three-Cheese Lasagna
From 7:30 am to 11:30 am, it was complete madness. This is the best part about working in a restaurant on the line. The ticket machine is spitting out orders one after another. Sometimes 6-7 tickets in a row. It’s total action and it’s emotional. For four hours, we yelled at each other, we slipped all over the place like my kitchen was built on a giant Slip n’ Slide, pots and pans flew into the sink with thundering noise, apologies were made, people were told to shut the hell up and hurry the fuck up, blenders screamed, and worst of all, fingers were cut. Badly. Without my worrisome parents not knowing what I just did to myself, I ran into the bathroom to tend to the wound. If I had told them, the food would not have been finished and my first attempt at catering would've been a disaster. I gauzed my finger up and ran back on the line. The whole time, I was hiding my bandaged fingers up so my mom wouldn’t see it. We finished at exactly 11:20, giving me 10 minutes to get to the Bridal shower.
I sped down the road and checked my phone. 8 missed calls from GW. Uh oh, she was freaking out. Luckily when I showed up, the guests were just rolling in and entertaining themselves with Mimosas. I unloaded the food and laid everything out on the table. I really wanted to get out of there. There was just way too much estrogen flowing thru that house. My finger was throbbing. And I had 30 minutes to get to The Restaurant. Talk about hell. One of the guests saw my finger and asked to check it out. Turns out her husband is a doctor.
Guest: “Let me see it.”
Me: “Are you sure?” (while drinking a glass of wine to alleviate the pain. So alchy haha.)
Guest: “Take it off.”
I slowly unraveled it.
Guest: “Uh, that’s bad. You can’t be here right now. You gotta to the hospital and get stitches.”
Me: “And stitch what?”
Guest: “Whatever they can.”
I downed my glass of wine and headed back on the road to a hospital. GW came running out with my reward: 24 bottles of Stella Artois beer. Yes! Suddenly I got a call from my mom.
Mom: “How’d they like the food?”
Me: “I think they like it. I didn’t see anyone throwing up.”
Mom: “I saw your trail. What happened to you?”
Me: “I’m going to the hospital.”
Mom: “Ai-yah.” (That’s Cantonese for ‘you stupid fool’)
Me: “Thanks for your help, you kicked ass.”
I sat there in the waiting room of the ER and looked over to my dad who had a worried look on his face. I told him I was fine, that it was all my fault, but we got the job done. In that four hours, it was nice to be with the family and work towards a common goal. That’s all that mattered. I now know what and what not to do next time around. For sure, I will be more than ready. GW called me to see how I was and tell me that the food was enjoyed by everyone. As my fingers throbbed, I leaned my head on the wall and sat back in the greasy, vinyl ER chairs, and gave a tired smile.
Thanks for reading.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Posted by e d b m at 10:03 PM