Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Clatsop Community Action

If I felt relieved after my ORLA dinner it was for less than a few hours. Another, bigger, more stressful situation awaited. The Clatsop Community Action Food Pantry (http://www.ccaservices.org/) Originally, a good chef friend of mine was asked to head up a dinner to benefit the CCA. He in turn asked our company to host the dinner, and then asked the Executive Chef at my restaurant for one chef from our company to do a course. My name came up, my food, my course, alone. I was excited. That in turn morphed into this chef and I doubling up on dessert, and inviting other courses to chefs from throughout our county. Each team of chefs was also asked to do a hand passed app as well. A four course meal, each course with a wine, with 8 chefs involved. Since I was on my home turf, I was also asked to coordinate some of the service side of the dinner, and tasked to get food out on the pre-set schedule, a schedule in all honesty, that was almost impossible to adhere to with my own team, let alone some chefs I barely know, and who themselves have little or no experience doing this. For assistance we asked my high school ProStart class for help and 10 students were sent. As well as 2 young children that are involved in culinary classes with one of the chefs involved. Couple that with the 8 other chefs involved and you have a small satellite kitchen packed with 20 cooks, 2 dishwashers, and 18 more servers (from all over the county, who have never worked together as well). Tickets sold for $150 a piece, invite only, and they sold out for 150 seats. Everything that went out also needed recipes two weeks beforehand, as the customers were able to take a booklet home of everything we did. Bios, recipes, methods, etc. There was no cannot do here. Real deal, ass on the line stuff. I wasn't able to get any pictures but thought I would I could do a quick description of the courses.

I did a crostini with a apple braised red cabbage, topped with pulled pork and creme fraiche.
Pan fried oysters on a half shell with a goat cheese pearl
Spinach pancake with seared beef tenderloin
Stuffed Mushroom Cap

1- The first course was a baked local salmon with a Swiss chard and walnut pesto over spiced cannelini beans
2- A zucchini boat with a fall vegetable ragu over Cajun lentils
3-Roulade of flank steak, romesco sauce, parsnip puree, baby heirloom carrots
4- (our dessert) sour cream pound cake, coriander ice cream, date tartlet

Our goal was to get courses out of the kitchen in 10 minutes. Two lines of eight ppl plating as fast as they could and you know what.... we did it. We did the second course in 8 minutes. We were well received by our guests and hosts, and as the dessert went out to dinning room my cohort and I were able to go out and talk about why we did what we did, and why a benefit for Clatsop County families in need of food was worth supporting to us. I have never felt better about a service. It may have been that it was for a very good cause, maybe I felt so vested in it that I took a very personal interest, maybe I just felt some justification for my consomme a few nights previous. It was not totally glitch free, but went more smoothly then I ever could have expected. None of the glitches made there way to the dinning room. I was on cloud nine as we finished and cleaned up. The day was really long, I sweat, bled, and almost cried, but in the end we accomplished what we came to do. As the rush ended I was washed with the most amazing tranquil feeling I have ever had. My food, my kitchen, my timing, my experience, my organization, our success. Over 40K was raised for the much needed new distribution warehouse of the CCA in Warrenton. As if I needed anything more than the emotions I felt afterward, I am told we will be honored with a placard at the office bearing our names.

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