The Wedding Report

Am I glad I don’t cater weddings right now. Not that I won’t do it again when my children are free of diapers, daily tantrums, and a fondness for waking up at 5:30 am every day, but boy does it NOT fit my life right now.

I love the cooking part, of course. Having high quality ingredients, unique menus, and permission to fuss over flavors, garnishes, and presentation doesn’t get old. Working an 8 hour open bar event for 130 30 year olds is another story entirely.

I left the house at 11 am to get to the kitchen where I trimmed 160 organic chicken thighs of extra skin and fat, then coated them with salt and pepper and a Mediterranean pesto (artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, basil, garlic, Parmesan, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, capers). Then I helped another chef prepare beef stew, while cleaning the rented kitchen and preparing it for our departure.

I left the kitchen at 4, stopped at the market to get more butter and mint for the mojitos at the bar and drove the 25 minutes to the site. I met rest of the staff, including two young women who were grilling the rice flour quesadillas (very popular) and keeping the other appetizers plentiful and beautiful. Then I left to get the steamed rice from the Japanese restaurant about 2 blocks away.

When I got back, I saw that we had two rooms to work in but within no time, the barbershop quartet had taken over one of them, which really irritated my friend. That left us with one small room with two tables, a fridge and a small kitchen sink. I started to realize how difficult clean up was going to be, with over 600 glasses (five different kinds), 600 plates, and 500 utensils, not to mention 25 hotel pans, and about 20 platters and bowls to clean.

At this point I went into server mode, getting the chafing dishes filled with hot water, lighting the sternos, and making sure the food was placed in such a way that the rice would be served under the stew, and the vegetarian coconut curry wouldn’t be devoured by meat-eaters (which ended up happening anyway). The meal started about 7:30, a half hour late, but only because of the entertainment–a couple clad in spandex that did an amazing, sexy, and acrobatic dance together.

After the meal was served (I was responsible for eeking out the mesclun mix–my friend was afraid we wouldn’t have enough so I tried to go light, but it was the only green thing on the menu so most of them asked for “a little more please”).

After the meal, I carried tray after tray after tray of dirty dishes, glasses, and silverware in to the “kitchen” where it started to pile up despite the fact that there was someone at the sink the entire time. Running out of hot water slowed things down as well.

I was relieved to pour the raspberry sauce on the dessert plates, though it was stressful trying to keep the guests from taking one until the dancer-rapper-mimer was done performing (per order of the wedding planner). Some guests got huffy (“We have to leave!”). I didn’t blame them. It had been 4 hours since they arrived.

We spent the rest of the night in the land of dirty dishes, running back and forth between the floor and the kitchen. The only thing that saved it was listening to the 14 piece Mariachi band and watching the black-clad bride’s maids dance.

At 11:15 I asked my friend if I could leave, given that I had worked an hour and a quarter past my scheduled departure. She was in a daze but acquiesced. I wouldn’t be home till after midnight and my kids were going to jump on my head five and half hours later. This knowledge mitigated by guilt about leaving the crew.

The rest of the staff didn’t roll out till 1:30 (the take-out pizza was served at 11 on some unused rental plates much to the chagrin on my friend–more dishes!). I called a chef friend on the West coast on the way home so I could keep myself awake by chatting. She was shocked that I was up at that hour–my life as a private chef-writing-wife-mom has me in bed by 10:30 at the latest.

All in all, it was a successful event. We received plenty of compliments on the food, there was enough of it, and the clients and their guests had a great time. Next time though, I’m going to leave after the food is cooked!

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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            • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
            • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
            • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
            • Has campuses in Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, Florida
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            4 Program(s) Found
            • Gives students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in the culinary arts field in less than 15 months or bachelor’s degree in the food service management field in 2.5 years through their year-round schedule.
            • Located in Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia.
            • Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
            • Hosts regular career fairs for employer recruitment.
            • Has student housing available.
            • Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
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            L'Ecole Culinaire , Kansas City
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
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            Salter College , West Boylston
            • Offers training programs in preparation for professional careers in business, health care, and computers.
            • Provides associate and certificate programs in medical assisting, massage therapy, culinary arts, and more.
            • Places students in externships to gain real world experience before completing their respective program.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
            • 2 campuses in Chicopee and West Boylston, Massachusetts.
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            • Preparing individuals for career opportunities, technology training, and certifications for the medical, culinary arts, HVAC repair, legal, and cosmetology fields since 1934.
            • Has many lecture classes with a maximum of a 30:1 student to teacher ratio, and most lab classes with a maximum of an 18:1 student to teacher ratio.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools.
            • Has locations in Dearborn, Farmington Hills, Lansing, Madison Heights, Roseville, Saginaw, Southgate, Waterford-Pontiac and Wayne-Westland.
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