Meeting the Vision

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One of the first things I ask prospective clients is that they close their eyes and tell me how THEY see the event they’re contacting me about “going down.” What music is playing? What is everyone wearing? How is the table set? What are people doing? How are people behaving? What are you eating? What are you drinking? In order for me to create a menu for their event, I need to get inside their head. Oh, how many times have I wished that I could just miniaturize, like one of those cartoon characters, and just walk on in and see what they see. Since I haven’t found the miniaturization machine, questioning is still my favorite tool.

I do my best to ask all the right questions and foresee the dining event. It isn’t until I step foot inside the entrance of the venue that I can truly begin to “finalize” the event. And even then, once guests arrive, they throw curve balls and I’m continually adjusting my game to meet the vision I’ve been given.  It’s exciting, challenging, and most often, very rewarding.

This week I’ve had three “special events,” with one more to go…. On Monday, I was on Fort Sam Houston with a large team of assistants, preparing hors d’oeuvres (I really spelled that correctly without spell check) for the Grand Opening of the Army Museum in the Historic Quadrangle, in a Conference Room with portable skillets. My Point of Contact for this event had the vision of everything (food and drinks) to be passed “Butler Style” to the guests.

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Museum Grand Opening Menu

We went through A LOT of silver trays and napkins! (And added to our stories about “cooking” in unusual settings.)

Keeping the Peacocks away from the car during unloading/loading. They see their reflection and peck at the car. "Other duties as assigned."

Keeping the Peacocks away from the car during unloading/loading. They see their reflection and peck at the car. “Other duties as assigned.”

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Our temporary “kitchen”

On Tuesday, I was in a “first time client’s” home preparing a special birthday dinner for 2 guests. The birthday “girl” was supposed to be surprised by this dinner. Her husband had called and left a message on my cell phone. I neglected to hear the part of the message where he asked me to call on a different number because he was trying to keep this dinner a surprise. 🙁 It was all good, as he told me that she’s not really into surprises, and then she was able to help select her birthday menu.

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Birthday Dinner for 2

I thought I would arrive at the house and walk in to a very sophisticated, formal dining affair. Once I arrived at the house, his wife was in the kitchen with me the entire time. We were chatting and sharing stories in an extremely informal manner as I prepared dinner. I did finally “force” her out of the kitchen to the beautiful table her husband had set so that she could enjoy a “restaurant experience” in her own home. The birthday girl really wanted homemade cookies and ice cream for dessert, so that’s what she got!

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Diver Scallops with White Wine Beurre Blanc; Wild Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto

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Grapefruit & Avocado Salad with White Wine & Fresh Herb Vinaigrette

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Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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Cookie Platter (Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, and Snickerdoodle)

Tonight, I was at the home of a “repeat client.” I didn’t even need to carry my knife roll to this job. When he redid his kitchen, I helped him select all his kitchen equipment, including knives. His vision for the dinner was “Texan, informal, simple.” I grilled dinner in his beautiful backyard outdoor kitchen and we did a self-serve buffet around the kitchen island.

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Texas-Inpsired Casual Dining Menu

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Chipotle in Adobo & Mango Shrimp Kabobs, Grilled Jalapeños, Summer Vegetable Medley, Mango & Pineapple Salad

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Citrus-Cilantro Grilled Tilapia

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Grilled Strip Steaks with Chimichurri

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Loaded Baked Potatoes and Baked Sweet Potatoes

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Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie

Every job I do is completely unique. I plan the menu, organize all my supplies, and set out on an cooking adventure. I do my very best to predict the event’s flow and anticipate my clients’ needs. I’m continually kept on my toes, and working with whatever scenario the day brings. I love it!