Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cooking for 100

On Monday (the 31st) we had to cook for a travel club, about 100 people. The menu was pork loin, fried chicken, green beans, roast potatoes, broccoli casserole, coleslaw, a carrot salad, peach cobbler and the frozen key lime pie we unloaded from the previous week. There might have been another dish, I don't remember.

I told Red I wanted to work with her since I had not yet. Hottie # 2 was in our group also. We picked the potatoes. Chef wanted red potatoes cut in half, with onion, seasoned and roasted. I was late getting started with the others because I had to fill the triple sink and start up the dishwasher. When I got to our table Hottie and Red were slicing onions. I got a little uncomfortable because both of them kept deferring to me for instructions. It's not my show people. I appreciate the respect but you have to be able to think and act on your own.

They asked how to cut the onions. I said sliced into rings would be fine. Hottie was watching Red slice a large onion. She looked a little wide eyed and said Red was scaring her. I looked and could see how the onion wobbled as she tried to cut through it. It did indeed look like Red would cut herself at any moment. I agreed with Hottie and said if the onions were that large then go ahead and do half slices to be safe. Red got a little defensive and told me to make up my mind. Hey I don't need this shit. I told her I agreed with Hottie, it looked like she would cut herself at any moment and it didn't help that her knife was dull. She retorted, "fine, I've only been doing this for forty years." Sigh. I really, don't need this. "Fine," I said. "I'm just worried about your safety, If you've got big unstable unions like that then do it this way." I showed them how to take a sliver off the side of the onion so that you have a stable flat spot and the onion won't rock and wobble when you try to cut it.

Red had asked me earlier how many potatoes we needed. I had no idea. I haven't learned all those rules of thumb for X many pounds of something for Y many people. I'm hoping that comes in the Purchasing class. I told her to fill a hotel pan and use that many. Chef came by later and said we needed thirty pounds! I went to grab a balance and found we only had 15 pounds. So I took on weighing and cleaning the other half of the potatoes we needed. Hottie was flying through slicing the potatoes. To think that at the beginning of the quarter she was afraid of her knife!

While I was washing the potatoes they asked me if they they should cut the little ones in half. I said yes. Really? Damn it people! "Look I understand that the small ones are the same size as the cut halves but Chef said cut the potatoes in half so that is why I said yes cut the little ones in half. It REALLY does not matter to me." There was some muttering under their breath.

Meanwhile, The Kid was pestering me on how to cook the green beans. I don't know. I said I would do it with onions, maybe some peppers, maybe a meat of some kind. Like bacon? Sure. Well how much? I don't know! I said we were doing thirty pounds of potatoes so I bet thirty pounds of green beans. Ask Chef, dude. I don't know why so many people have such a hard time with going to Chef and asking for information or clarification. So many end up doing something wrong because they refuse to ask him. I never hesitate.

Sushi #2 asked me how to make broccoli casserole. Me? I'd make it the same way that we made squash casserole. Turns out I was wrong, but I think the concept was the same, at least in my eyes. They ended up using canned cheese sauce instead of making a cheese sauce, cheddar based instead of Swiss based. In the squash casserole we mixed the bread crumbs in the casserole, in the broccoli casserole they used rice in place of the bread crumbs. For the squash casserole we topped it with cheese, they topped the broccoli casserole with bread crumbs. Just proof as to why you ask Chef when you don't know what to do.

Back to the potatoes. I suggested tossing the potatoes in olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper and rosemary. No one had any objections but Hottie said she doesn't cook with salt and couldn't recommended it. I said fine, but remember we aren't cooking for ourselves but for our customers. So we agreed on the salt. Hottie also wanted to add garlic. I said it sounded like a great idea and fetched the big jar of cloves for her. She mashed and minced it like a pro. We got everything mixed up and seasoned and into the oven the big roasting pan went.

While were were seasoning the potatoes, Hottie mentioned that no one was making fried chicken. You've got to be kidding me! Well, no reason why we couldn't do that too. Really rather simple. I got the case of chicken parts out to wash. Hottie made an egg wash and Red got the flour together. Chef wanted the flour seasoned, salt, pepper, onion powder. We were out of onion powder. Hottie wanted cayenne pepper in there too and I agreed but we were out of that also. We tried grinding up red pepper flakes but that was completely futile. Chef said no one in this area used red pepper in their fried chicken. What! When we lived in Bainbridge everybody used cayenne in their fried chicken. of course maybe the issue is there is no, and I mean no fried chicken in North Georgia. Not in Blarisville or anywhere nearby. When I asked where to get fried chicken around here I was told KFC. Gag. We ended up using a little bit of dried chipotle powder.

We fried all of the chicken in the deep fryer. It came out fairly good though I thought it was way under seasoned. I would have liked a little zip in it as Hottie #2 had suggested. Chef wanted the dishes caught up so I jumped on them while others served the food in one of the meeting rooms. I just chugged along on the dishes when Chef called me out. I sat down in our area and Chef briefly lectured us on not busing the dishes out of the meeting room. He sent everyone in to get them. When I got up he told me to sit down, I had done enough dishes.

After the dishes had been bused we were allowed to eat. All of the food was very good. Half the class was no where to be found. I joked with Chef that even when he tells them to stop working and eat they don't follow directions.

No class on Monday but Chef is working on a dinner on Sunday, anybody who wants to help can come in at 3:00pm. I know this means extra credit so I plan on being there.

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