Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Kitchen Confidential #5: Crabcakes and Champagne-in-Styrofoam-Cups

It’s been nearly a month and a half since my last catering event. I had never felt so much pain after my careless finger incident, so it took me quite a while to get accustomed to the knife again. Not just a cut, a CLEAN chop off the tip. Like starfish, we have the amazing ability to regenerate. This past weekend was definitely a fun and special event – Kristy of Best of LA asked me to cater her friend’s bridal shower in LA. Mos def.

From the last event, I learned that although you can count on your two loving parents to help out as sous chefs, prepping/cooking food the same day of an event is pure madness and sheer irresponsibility. This time, I called upon my good friend CK to lend a fine and skillful hand. CK recently got into cooking and holds bi-monthly dinners at his apartment. And he is proof that when you give 110% towards something you love, you can truly excel. His food looks great.

Me: “Hey I need your help for a catering event.”
CK: “What? I won’t know what to do.”
Me: “You’ll be fine. I won’t yell at you like I did with my parents haha.”
CK: “I’m down. You want me to make anything?”
Me: “Your heavily sought after crabcakes.”
CK: (Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers) “Crabcakes?! I love crabcakes!”

CK headed down on Friday night all the way from behind the Orange Curtain, equipped with gear for the next day. I had already told him that we’d be up all night prepping and that it would make things way easier for the day of the event. Most importantly, you’d reduce the risk of losing a part of your finger. As soon as he got to my place at 9:30, we chopped, minced, diced, and boiled the food away. At about 2:30, we were finally done with prepping and a little bit buzzed. Some people, and midgets, whistle while they work, I prefer to drink while I work in the kitchen with some beats. Makes everything go by quickly. If we hadn’t taken so many cigarette breaks and drank glasses of wine, we probably would’ve been done at around 1 am. Oh well.

Fast forward 5 hours. Snore snore snore ramble ramble snore snore snore random noise #1 stretch snore snore nigtmare flip flip dream of a hot chick twist flip random noise #2,3,4 flip twist snore snore snore yawn.

Rise and shine. You ever get so little sleep that your eyes sting like lemon juice has been wrung over them? It’s what a poor snail probably feels when he gets the Deadly Kosher Salt storm. Well that was me, and I hate that. I used to get that every time I had to take a fucking midterm or final back in college. We both got up right away and loaded up the car with all the food and equipment. Drove over to Western Bagel on Santa Monica Blvd. for some delicious garlic bagels and headed out to K-town.

We got lucky this time because the bridal shower was held at the bride’s parent’s Korean pre-school – so we had access to a commercial kitchen. I thought about the food that I ate back in elementary school and wondered why they would need such a fully-equipped kitchen. After all, it was canned Sysco food that needed a simple re-heating. The kitchen had a four-burner Imperial stove with a large griddle, which was probably only used to fry Sysco burgers. There were also three, sub-zeros used to store Sysco milk. Behind me were three other standard refrigerators. I took a peep to find a nice supply of kimchi and dokpokki, a popular dish consisting of fish cakes, spicy red bean paste, green onions, carrots and rice cakes. Maybe Sysco should consider making instant dokpokki for the little munchkins instead of the Mac n’ Cheese.

About 20 minutes into cooking, a Korean woman entered the kitchen and immediately froze. CK and I both stopped in our tracks and stared at her. We all looked like deer in headlights.

Chinese Deer: "Uh...."
Korean Deer: "Uh..."

Say something, say something before she calls 911. I figured she was the bride's mom, the pre-school owner. Great, did Kristy not tell her that I would be utilizing her kitchen? She was probably thinking, "the hell are these guys using my kitchen for???"

Chinese Deer: "Hi, I'm Kristy's friend."
Korean Deer: "Ohhhhhhh! Ok! Hello!"

*Whew, she left. I made the stupid mistake of buying an ‘As-Seen-On-TV’ product from Costco: The George Foreman BBQ Grill. It was in fact – not a grill, but a hubcap with a power outlet. It seemed promising to me initially because my friends had used the Foreman grill to make Korean bbq ribs. Tasted great. After about 20 minutes of heating, the grill was still not hot. Piece-of-motherfucking-shit. I immediately jumped over to the griddle which resolved my problem instantly. At around 1:30 pm, CK and I brought the food up to the room and were greeted by eight, hungry women. Here’s what we served:

A. Korean Pear, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut Salad - I initially wrote down on the menu card that I would be using Bosc pears, which are delicious, but I forgot to get them. I figured, Hey, it's a korean party, why not use Korean pears, which are even juicier. I dressed these mothers in a Lemon & Honey vinaigrette.

B. Retarded Spring Rolls - When it comes to rolling up anything, I'm lowsy at it. These were rolled with Vietnamese Nem Nuong pork, basil, romaine and served with sweet n' sour sauce. Light and healthy.

C. Hawaiian Poke with Avocado Mousse on Wonton Crisps - After my trip to Hawaii, I fell in love with poke, which is basically a tuna sashimi salad mixed with soy sauce, sesame oil and Maui sweet onions. These had three different textures which I thought went very well together.

D. Roasted Spring Vegetables - I have no idea if these are in fact Spring vegetables; they are most likely year-round. I figured that since they were roasted this day in Spring, the most sensible name was "Roasted Spring Veggies". Requested by Kristy.

E. CK's Crabcakes - These delicious Tater-Tots-of-the-Sea were a hit according to Kristy. We served it with a roasted red pepper and caper remoulade. We even gave some of these to the janitors working that day. They devoured them. Oops! Sorry Kristy.

F. Grilled Shrimp with Thai Sauce - As I spent the good hour skewering these prawns, I pondered their method of a 'second' death. If I were a shrimp, would i rather...

(1) Be impaled on a stick from Point A to Point B WITHOUT a head
(2) Be mashed into an unrecognizable pulp and be used for Thai papaya sald
(3) Be breaded in a Sysco italian bread crumb mix and then be frozen in a -30 degree refrigerator of the local Applebee's, ready to be eaten by the next fratboy?

I don't know, but it sucks to be delicious shrimp.

G. Portobello Mushroom Ravioli in Butternut Squash Sauce - This was good but so ugly that it didn't deserve a photo. Even my camera refused to snap away at it and said "siccccckkkkkkkkkk".

As soon as we left the room, CK and I headed back to the kitchen and we popped open the bottle of Chandon champagne I bought. I thought to myself, hey maybe Charles Shaw should make a $1.99 champagne. Poured ourselves a nice 6 oz. cup of Chandon in Sysco styrofoam cups. CK did a killer job for his first under-pressure culinary event and I decided to make him my Sous chef haha. I let him keep his coat that I got from Surfas and he agreed to work with me on the next few events. At about 3:30, we finished packing and cleaning. My reward for CK: a nice copy of the great, Italian cookbook The Silver Spoon and a tasty Japanese-tapas dinner at Musha's in Torrance. We got pretty trashed, naturally. Thank you to Kristy for giving me the opportunity to work her friend's bridal shower and of course, thank you, to my Sous chef CK. A job well done buddy.

Thanks for reading.


BoLA said...

Muhaha....we were 8 VERY hungry women upstairs...;) But it was all worth the wait. Food was delicious! (Yes, it seemed to be a Korean party although I was the only non-korean speaking person of the bunch! Although, I think I can pass for Korean but that's a different story...) Thanks again for all your hard work! I'm hoping that more gigs come out of this one for you...I'm forwarding your info to the rest of the girls and JK's mom was definitely impressed. ;) Hmm...any plans this weekend to cheer on the Final Four???

Ron Oda said...

dylan! you is da man!!

good job, the meal looked fantastic and no missing appendages!!

wonder if any of the ladies was named grace lee or jenny kim...

charles shaw champagne sounds awful, but they would sell a shit load of it for sure...

Daily Gluttony said...

"Some people, and midgets, whistle while they work..."


Anyways, everything looked yummy! Looks like you have a really bright future in catering!!!

Oishii Eats said...

Dang Dylan..you got some nice skills~! The poke looks so good. Good luck on more catering gigs!

e d b m said...

Kristy, haha i know you guys were hungry, so sorry. i don't know what i'm doing this weekend yet.

DCCF/Pam/Jeni, thank you! I'd love to keep improving.

susan said...

the food looks awesome dylan! how did you make the avocado mousse?

Passionate Eater said...

Deluxe spread Dylan! I definitely see fusion elements in a well-thought out menu, and a balance of contrasting flavors such as the ravioli (western influence) and glass rolls (Asian influence).

And don't worry about the Vietnamese rice paper wrappers--I think the rolls look fabulous. Plus, practice takes perfect, and from the looks of your dishes (and from your satisfied clients), you'll be getting practice in the future!

e d b m said...

Yoony/PE thanks. PE, seriously the rolls were so retarded. I should have only kept the leaves and not the crunchy stem/branches.

BoLA said...

Ah man...I'm SICK! :( Boooo!

I prefer my spring rolls with shrimp. I'll email you some ideas I had too...

Anonymous said...

"korbell" in styra? we didnt event do that at club kiowa. Hard headaches i remember from that drink.

FOod looks pretty posh and stylish. watch out for some dangerously tasty dishes on my housewarming when i have it.

Anonymous said...

ditto -- I badly want yr avocado mousse recipe.

do you use gelatin?

elmomonster said...

Wow! What a spread...I'll have to ask you over a private e-mail how much you charge for such an event.

Thanks for sharing.

Aye_Marieeee said...

wow! looks delish! im totally in love with ur food! =)

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