Last Friday night was our night to shine. To spread a buffet of delicious goodies out for students to enjoy alongside their normal family dinner. And it was a lot of work! In the end, it was terrific experience for learning how to cater a small event or host a big dinner party by doing the work in batches – what freezes well, what doesn’t, what needs to be make the hour before guests arrive, etc. Everything, yes, everything had to be made from scratch – from crackers to dressings and sauces – and all the pork products we used, like bacon, were made from the original pig brought in.
Our team of six had about 15 hours of prep time over a few classes to prepare and cook a smorgasbord for 50 to 60 people. We all brought in recipes we’d like to try and Chef V, who was very open minded to doing whatever wanted, ordered all the food. We collectively decided on a Fall theme, fitting since we all wanted to use pumpkin, squash, brussel sprouts, and more to make other comforting seasonal foods. We also had to design a flow and plan for the spread, including decor and plating. (You’ll notice there were a few dishes with a not so seasonal Asian twist due to one of our teammates wanting to make his native Korean dishes.) Here are some pics from the night!
Salmon Tataki Salad with Homemade Gravlax (paper thin cuts of radish, carrots, zucchini, and cured salmon, topped with a jalapeno dressing)
Stuffed Kabocha Squash – stuffed with butternut squash, rice, and sage
Roast Leg of Pork – maple dijon glaze
Mushroom Bread Pudding (delicious beyond belief) and Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Roasted Squash, Pickled Beet, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Salad, and Tasso Ham & Cheddar Cheese Croquetas (melt in your mouth food – it’s essentially a super thick bechamel sauce with ham and cheese added to it, and is then piped out into logs, frozen until firm, and finally breaded before frying)
Braised Pork Cheeks with Lady Apples
Homemade Bratwurst with Braised Cabbage
Pork Belly with Apple Chips and Microgreens – my least favorite for sure… it desperately needed salt (not my dish, not my salt preference, lol)
Shaved Zucchini and Asparagus Crudite with Parmesan
Pumpkin, Sage, and Ricotta Ravioli with Brown Butter – decadent, yet light and airy filling
Fried Duck Confit and Cranberry Compote Empanads with an Orange Mint Dipping Sauce and Baked Indian Curried Pumpkin Empanadas with Tzatiki
Cinnamon Ice Cream – texture was a little off, but maybe the best flavor of the night
Pumpkin Bread Pudding – an absolute go-to dessert for the rest of my life, especially with that cinnamon ice cream
Pecan Pie – made by Chef V
Fig Jam-Ricotta Torta with Almond and Basil Crumble – made by Chef V
Strawberry and Sake Gelatin – berries are not so seasonal, yes, but it was a tasty adult jello shot my teammate beautifully arranged
A few other items we made (but I sadly didn’t get pictures of) – Chestnut Soup, Oyster Chowder with Homemade Oyster Crackers, Korean Glazed Short Ribs with Stick Rice.
As of Monday, we’ve switched over to making family meal with Chef Anna while Chef V takes the other group to do their charcuterie and buffet. Chef Anna is definitely a little fire cracker – doesn’t put up with any crap but pretty entertaining nonetheless. We’re each assigned a station – protein, starch, vegetable and vegetarian item, or salad/fruit salad/stocks (the stocks go down to the main Ecole kitchen for their use each day). On our first night, we made shepard’s pie and green beans with shallots. Tonight we made red curry boneless short ribs, eggplant/zucchini/pepper curry, coconut rice with dried apricots, and kale with wild rice and garbanzo beans. Very yum!
It’s a boat load of work to cook for 150 people. It’s non-stop, hustle all night. I must have cut up about 30 peppers, 10 eggplants, and 30 zucchini, and opened 15 cans of coconut milk, let alone all the random carrots, onions, shallots, and garlic that need to be handy, plus prep for recipes for our next class. But, in a bizarre way, the business is cathartic. I am however bummed at the large burn I got on my right forearm tonight. I’ve really only burned areas that aren’t too visible (like under my arm) – so this one’s a keeper.