Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Post-foodem: Michaelmas Lunch

So Wolfmom and I coined a term after Michaelmas, post-foodem. It's where the cook breakdowns what went right and what went wrong, and talks about what he or she learned from the process. I usually do this myself in my nifty brown book, but as this blog is for similar purpose (and sharing with my readers) I decided I'll be updating this here as well.

What went right:

  • Pre-planning was a huge key. Testing out the recipes and seeing what tasted good/what tasted off helped me with the final chicken product. Lots of communication with the Feastcrat and my mentor Wolfmom meant that I had a good idea on timetables/kitchen use and equipment to bring or would be provided.
  • Working with the Feastcrat for ingredients once again payed off. I was able to get a good chunk of chicken for cheap because she was purchasing chicken herself, which allowed me to purchase extra fruit to be consumed and keep the price low at 3 dollars.
  • The price point again seemed to be my big seller. At 3 dollars I wasn't asking for a terribly large amount of cash, so people seemed more eager and willing to pay it than had I offered upwards of 5 dollars. This was a strong factor in me selling out of lunch I feel.
  • Largess for all my volunteers was a great idea Not only did it make them feel good and appreciated, that I would given them some jewelry pieces for their hard work meant I had the same people volunteering to help ALL day and night, but it made me feel good to see them happy and ejoying the items I gave them. Heck, one young boy went ahead and made a necklace that day with the beads and pendant I gave him!
  • As far as the Luncheon goes, the table display was fantastic and really helped to set the mood. I had a couple judges come up to me and thank me for the spread, it looked just as visually appealing as it tasted, and I could not have pulled that off without the help of Thalassia who was able to come up with the roman-themed decor at the last minute to help.

What went wrong:

  • Assumptions were the biggest issue, overall. A few people who volunteered to help got pulled away at the last minute, which meant my timetables were in threat of going eyry. Thankfully I had started early and had extra volunteers on had to cover what I needed, but had neither of hose things happened I could have been in a pickle.
  • My math measurements were off, which was frustrating. I ran out of grapes before I did melons, which I shouldn't have had I done my math a bit better on my portioning. I know exactly what went wrong there, grapes don't fill a ladle because their solids and I'm a doofus for thinking otherwise, so that's an easy fix. I also ran out of wax paper wrap 8 sandwiches early, but that's because the bread was a bit wider that I had thought and took an extra inch of paper to cover properly.
  • Not having eyes on the Royals and Baron/Baroness was a pain. My contact with where they should have been had lost track of them, to make matters worse they had split up from where they were supposed to be so I had to send runners to locate them to bring them lunch.

Lessons learned:

  • Prepare enough largess to give to folks, its a great way to make them feel good about thier service for you and to earn you repeat volunteers when you sddeny find yourself needing to send runners across camp to locate royals.
  • Did I mention pre-palnning enough yet? Every time I've done it (all of 3, I know) it's paid off in spades, just mentioning again so I don't forget it.
  • Don't assume people will be there. Plan for them being distracted, taken away on another more important job or even just not on site yet. 
  • Stay hydrated! I got a little dizzy around 10am that day from lack of water, I made sure to sit and drink and felt right as rain shortly.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help, because people are always willing to do so if they're able!
  • People may not have the same tastes as you, do keep your fruits separated because people don't want their grapes and melons touching (Thanks Madhavi for that one!).
  • 5 days in advance is a slightly stressful time to try and throw together decor and setting for a judges luncheon to match your period-style lunch.