Monday, March 25, 2013

Queens Tea Post-Foodum: Success!

I know I know, War has been over for like...2 weeks. I've been a busy beaver with work, which I'm sure will be its own separate update soon, but finally I have a day of rest filled with nothing but time and here I am writing my post-foodum on the Queens Tea. This was my 5th SCA cooking project, in my opinion a real step up from everything else I've done. A year ago in February I did my first meal, cooking a lunch for a revel in  the Canton of Swampkeype, and a year later I am cooking for the current and formal royalty of the Knowne World! It was a great experience, full of good friends and great time, and a wonderful learning exercise for me in my development!

Things that went well:

. Pre-planning - Once again I am impressed dramatically at how pre-planning and prep work in advance can really help bring a day together. I had all of my recipe's on my laptop which I brought up, I was able to reference them on hand without having to worry about paper being lost or damaged outdoors. Having my test cooks done in advance meant I knew roughly how long each dish would take to cook and prep, which meant I could organize my time efficiently.

. Bringing extra - One thing I learned from Chalice is that it is better to over prepare when it comes to equipment. I had extra knives, extra trash bags, cleaning equipment and other such on hand. Last time I brought just as much as I needed, instead of planning for extra, and I came to regret that as the day went on. As I had extra of many items, as my needs increased for the day I was able to meet them fairly well. Having my back-ups was a super idea, regardless of how much extra space it took up in my car :p

. Note taking - As silly as it sounds, this blog and my obsessive note taking has been such a huge help I can't even begin to describe. Every mistake or success I've made in the pat year I've documented here or there, every lesson learned I've transcribed somewhere between these two sources for my own reference material. Having these around has been a major boon, I can reference all my past experiences to solve problems and plan ahead. I'll admit most of my day-to-day experiences are in my notebook, it's just easier to carry around then my laptop, and I'm hoping that I'll have time soon to transcribe what I've been doing in that onto the blog.

. Networking - Not a common positive I'll grant it, but it was a huge boon to me all of the friends I've made and people who have sought me out to be friendly with. I've met so many wonderful and amazing people, people who have taught me so much not just about cooking and the SCA but about myself and who I could be as a person. These are some great people who have aided me in my endeavors, and with whom-out I would be in some desperate straights. Having all this talent, these intelligent minds and these capable hands willing to assist at the drop of a hat is such an important part of my success I cannot begin to state it enough. I have a dream and idea, and these great folks make it happen.

Things that didn't go so well - 

I don't wanna say these things are a failure, because the food was great and everyone loved it. All these thing are things can be improved on, things I could have done better or things that I know not to do next time :p.

. Outside cooking concerns - Ahh, nature. I adore it so, yet she can be a fickle mistress when it comes to relying on it for any cooking endeavors. The high winds robbed my coals of their heat faster than my test cooking experiments had done, and even though I had purchased a little extra charcoal to cook with it just wasn't enough and we had to use Madhavi's portable propane cooker to finish the chicken. The high winds also made prep difficult, I had a habit of losing plates and napkin to the breeze. The cloudless sky out of the blue also made the harsh sunlight break down on my assistants, Madhavi and I both agreed that next year to invest in a pop-up for comfort.

. Reliance on "time" - This is my biggest sticking point, because it's how I've been all my life. Things operate on time, they happen at the time decided upon and if things change you're notified in advance. I do my best to be flexible and ready to roll with any punches, and I am generally really awesome at that, but I still can't help my nerves or the jarring sensation I feel when things suddenly change on me out of nowhere. The 5 minutes till start time change of location had me in a tizzy, but I just have to learn to recover and bounce from these changes better without letting it panic me that everything is ruined.

. Scheduling myself - I am a person who likes to stay busy, even my free time I tend to occupy with mental tasks like rearranging rooms or organizing books, and I can have a bad habit of over-scheduling myself. When I take on too many tasks, I know things start to suffer and I lose sight and focus. My work life was evolving faster and more complex by the day then I could imagine, never did I suspect 3 promotions in 3 months, and that took away much of my focus. On top of planning this I was organizing a LARP weekend, working every day of the week, focusing on spending as much time with my girlfriend as possible, dealing with family headaches, working on learning retainer duties for my newest Excellencies and learning the ropes of a Canton A/S job. It was too much at one time, and I did it to myself by giving myself too much stress.

All in all, I had a great time and learned a lot about cooking and about myself. I got compliments from the people I fed and from those who got to work with me, they understood how nervous I was to be a supervisor and not a direct cook! I had a blast working with so many talented and gracious folks, and cannot wait for my next cooking adventures!