Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dinner Party from Hell

   First of all, let me apologize for my lone hiatus from this blog. You have to understand that when I started this blog my place of employment was slowly, but throughly sucking the life force out of me. So much that I had no energy or desire to do anything other than get home and sit in front of the TV and mindlessly watch anything that required little more than the IQ of a tree stump. Even my favorite shows like No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain were getting to cerebral for me. I had even started to doubt if I had chosen the correct direction in my professional life. But since then I have changed jobs and am feeling a resurgence in my passion for my profession. I now work at what is probably as close to an authentic Irish Pub here in Houston, TX. I work at McGonigel's Mucky Duck.

    Now, I started working here a little over a month ago. So I got here right before the holiday season. What the holiday season means for us is dinner parties. Lots and lots of dinner parties. Last week we had four dinner parties in the span of five days, including three back to back. Yeah, that was rough, but not as rough as the first dinner party and our latest dinner party.

    Our first dinner party was a complete mess. We were poorly organized and overwhelmed. The ticket system on which we rely to keep track of what goes where and how much of what we need completely broke down. We had no idea what went where or how much was done and how much needed to be done. I was so glad when that night was done. Luckily for the next party and each subsequent one after we were much better prepared.

    That was until last night. Last night was different for several reasons. First of all, my day started at 11 am. Then we changed the menu. For all the other parties we had soup, salad and a choice of three entees then dessert. For this one, it was all one menu. It was only going to be turkey, green beans, stuffing and gravy. At the last second the owner added soup and salad. And she wanted a new dressing for the salad. So I improvised a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. I also had to make crostinis for the soup. I had been making them all week, but that was not the problem. No, the problem was, since these were last minute changes, well, we had less that what were ideally needed.

    Another problem we had was that we only had four turkey breasts. Granted, they were freaking huge, but still. Chef Bonnie, the person in charge of the day shift only wanted to cook three, but I convinced her to cook all four. So we had all of our food ready. And the guests started to arrive. Everything was going alright until about half way through the evening. That is when it became apparent that we were going to run out of turkey and green beans. By that time, Bonnie had left.

    If you have ever worked in a kitchen then you know that nightmare. For the rest of you, there is nothing worse than running out of food right in the middle of service. Especially if it is a fixed menu. What do you do? You wing it. In our case we had smoked turkey breast. The kind you find in delis and slice really thin for sandwiches. Well, we threw that in the oven to warm it up, then cut it into pieces and served as the turkey breast we had before we ran out. The green beans we just substituted with asparagus.

    Yeah, it was a wild and crazy night. Especially considering that when it was all said and done I left work at 11 pm. A twelve hour day. I do not like working for twelve hours straight. It is what we in the industry call, not fun. But hey, at least it will make for a nice pay check.

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