For anyone that attended the event on February 3rd, I am sure that you had a great time. The vibe in the room was palpable. I know I did, and I was deep in the crazy kitchen. I also know that along with the great time you guys had, there was also the slow roll out of the food. Well as I had mentioned during a quick toast at the end of service, thank you all for being our guinea pigs! It was an amazing learning experience.
I must say, that I had all the plans to be completely organized and prepped for the dinner, and for anyone that really observed the kitchen, that did not happen. Here is the story of what did happened... Let me take you back to 24 hours before the event...
[ENTER CHEESY FLASHBACK MUSIC]
One day before the big event. Finishing work to make sure that I leave everything in order. Of course I need to take the next day off in order to spend the day prepping, etc. I make my way to Eataly to purchase the final ingredients as well as the dishes for the vegetarians. In my mind everything was set. I had my checklist so off I go.
The market takes a bit more time than what I thought. Plus I had to buy food for Tamy and myself for dinner... next thing I know its 9 PM and I am racing home. It is very important that I begin prepping the food the night before. We have dinner, and then my cousin who is visiting from Miami comes by to spend a couple of hours with us. In my thoughts, this is great. She is very coordinated in the kitchen and can help me with a bunch of stuff. But that... well lets just say that didn't happen. Plus, I realize that obviously in the craze of getting everything together, I forgot some key ingredients.
In the meantime, Tamy is beginning to have the pre-event jitters. In one hand she had the list of invitees, in the other her computer.
"The tables are all screwed up!" she says.
"We cannot sit all the foodies with each other and the techies with the techies! I NEED HELP" she states.
Here I am with a knife in my hand, about to place the first incision into the clean shitake mushroom.
"What do you want me to do? Stop prepping and work on the table list? I need to get this done!" I carefully reply.
"YES!" she concludes...
So there I am, dedicating the precious hours that I had to prep the food to the seating chart instead. Which, granted, is very crucial to making the night work perfectly. One of those subtle yet important details that we had planned. So of course it was important... but then again so is the food!
Next thing we know it is midnight and all I had done was chopped all the celery and the carrots.
"Baby, don't worry. You have this! Tomorrow wake up early and dedicate your time to prepping everything." my loving wife says to me in a very reassuring way. "It is more important to get a good night sleep. Tomorrow is a big day for you!"
Next day comes. we wake up at 7:30 and let the day sink in. It takes me a while to get everything in order. There were still those key ingredients that I needed to purchase, as well as begin getting all the pots, pans and equipment organized for the transportation to the venue. It was not until about 10 AM when I was back in my house. My gut begins to feel heavy and the eery feeling of stress begins to settle in. A friend is stopping by at 11 to help me transport everything to the venue and I still had to go pick up the scallops at "The Lobster Place" in Chelsea Market.
QUICK! Pull out the huge slab of short ribs. Begin to clean it. Remove most of the fat. Cut them into individual pieces. 36 SHORT RIBS! DAMN... luckily I had a huge stock pot ready to go and full of the chicken broth, carrots, celery, leeks, and wine ready. Oven pre-heated... put it all together and go! They need 4 hours to braise. Perfect. First part ready to go. Move on to the polenta. EASY! it just needs to sit for about one hour with water. Create the veggie broth for the vegetarians (throw some into the polenta for added flavor). Done. And then the phone begins to vibrate... my friend is 5 minutes away and I am still in PJs! SHIT!
Run, shower, shave, get dressed. Pack up the kitchen into a massive plastic crate and begin to take it down stairs... Obviously I completely ignored the check list that I had prepared for 3 days. Obviously I did not check that everything I needed was packed up in the crate. And obviously I did not make the final pocket check... I just had to get moving. The day was on top of me.
Off we go to the venue, unpack everything and begin to setup the space with the tables. In my mind I knew that I still had to prep A LOT! But I figured I still had time. It was still early... next thing I know its 1:30 and I needed to rush to Chelsea Market for the scallops. The order had been placed and all I needed to do was go in pick them up, pay for them and off I go. I was also going to buy the bread at Amy's Bread and take advantage of the trip.
My friend drops me off at Chelsea Market and leaves. I run in to The Lobster Place and ask for Brendan, the manager. Even though we had never met, we struck up a quick conversation soon to realize that we both shared an alma matter. Great. He brings out the scallops and give me the story of where they came from (a new vendor of theirs brought them in, they are farmed and taste spectacular). He hands me the final bill. I reach for my wallet, and at that moment, like a large boulder falling on my head (or a punch to the nose) I realize that my wallet is missing. I have 6 hours for the guest to begin to arrive and I am missing my wallet! Well the very gracious Brendan sees my face of panic and says.
"Don't worry. Take them and then call me later with the credit card info."
"BRENDAN! THANK YOU!" I say with a tremble.
I run out with the scallops in one hand the stress growing and growing in the other. I exit the building. Am about to hail a cab and then I realize... I DON'T HAVE MY WALLET! I am stuck in Chelsea cash less. OH MY GOD!
To be continued...
And now some food porn!
Photos by Jamie via jamesography.com