Thursday, July 29, 2010


Where the bleep have I been seriously? I've been absent, my writing vacant. I'm that goddamned sketchy friend who never returns calls, who just kinda goes away and leaves you behind. You can love me (doubtful) or hate me (probable) but either way, I'm back, and we can have fun once again. Let's talk food.

So where have I been? Reading Atonement. Getting an Ipad. Reading the WSJ every morning on my ipad. Cooking dinners for clients. Last Thursday I did a wine gala for 200. I rented wine glasses, picked up Pellagrino, hired servers (my buddies), purchased serving trays and napkins, and made quarter-sized blinis with smoked salmon and creme fraiche to be passed around. And I got paid for it. Sure as hell beats working at an ice cream shop. I took a class on small business and entrepreneurship at Penn. I went to a seminar on the restaurant business hosted by the Philadelphia Business Journal. It featured Jen Carrol, Rob Wasserman (owner of Rouge), Michael Solomonov (chef/owner of Zahav) and Ellen Yin (part-owner of Fork and Fork etc.). Yea. It sucked. Other than the first 30 minutes of kind of a cocktail-hour type setting in which I was able to talk to Ellen Yin about Fork (I worked there for a period) and I met Rob Wasserman who invited me to stage at Rouge, it was awful and uninformative. It was poorly put together. A few general questions were asked by a moderator and the chefs talked about the industry as it is currently, and all I really got out of it was that these restaurants are in better shape than last year. No shit right?

But back to the Gala. Yea that was great. That was jolly fun. I got to exercise genuine authority over a bunch of friends, what could be better right? Haha. It was great, yet terribly nerve racking in the days and hours leading up to the event. I had never done anything like that and it was really good for me to get out of my comfort zone. Before, all I had ever really done for clients was cook. I focused on what I knew. With this event I almost had to act as an event planner. I bought a BJ's membership (Alice Waters is surely plotting to kill me in my sleep) so that I could buy Pellagrino in bulk for cheap. I went to Party Land and got napkins. I went to some restaurant supply store in the city and picked up serving trays with lots of traction so that the wine wouldn't spill when passed (yes the wine was to be passed, that freaked me out when i found out), and I picked up pizza trays at the same store on which to serve the blinis. And that's only the half of it.

(haha there I am strutting down the aisle)
As the event approached, I ran situations over and over in my mind. What was I missing? The day before the event one of the four people I had hired texted me saying "How badly do you need me tomorrow?" I frikin freaked out. She couldn't be seriously cancelling on me now. Hahahaha wow I thought, so this is what it's like at Lacroix, or any restaurant for that matter, when a server decides they don't want to show up when they're scheduled. Luckily she didn't need to to "be with her boyfriend who was in from Boston" I made sure of that. The next day however, she asked me if he could come too. I was pissed off, but she said he would work for free. I made sure that he wouldn't be a distraction and let him on. That turned out to be a great decision.

The day of, almost everything went smoothly--thankfully and surprisingly. I made blinis until 3 then I showed up at the gala. I chilled the wine and Pellagrino with the help of my servers, then began to set up the blinis. I made my servers practice carrying the wine glasses before the event began--I was still quite nervous that one of them would drop a glass--not at all because of their imcompetence.

So the event began, and ran smoothly throughout. I hardly remember the middle of the event. It was a blur. Nothing of great significance occurred. It was smooth. Without blemish. At the end the bosses were happy but not overly so. It was a job well done, and that was what they had expected, and was all that they would tolerate. I felt like an adult. I shook his hand and acted as if this was the norm. As if this job was effortless. My expressionless face concealed the work and worry I had put in. And that was how it should be. They shouldn't know of anything more than work aptly completed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lunch for myself

Pulled then seared pork shoulder, avocado, roasted potatoes tossed with romesco and pecorino.

Lunches for sis keep on coming

This here is pulled then seared pork shoulder, mozzarella, tomato, and avocado on toasted spinach focaccia.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nother Lunch for Sis

Toasted pulled pork sandwich with American cheese (I had no other cheese in my house). Funny thing is, I always wish that I had made myself the sandwich after I make it for her.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lunch for Sis

Bacon, egg, and mozarella cheese toasted to perfection and served with a few slices of grilled eggplant. Lunch for my sister, for a small fee of course.
But I don't feel bad. She works five days a week, raking in tons of dough, well I cater an event once every few weeks. This is just how I get by!

Losing a Client

I lost a client dammit. I lost him. He's gone. He's not coming back. I lost money too, but that's not as important. I lost a relationship, a trust, potential for future business. I let someone down. Dammit.

My "job" this summer is catering dinner parties and events. It's mine. It's my own thing. I work for myself. I answer only to me. And I like that. It's great. I work my own hours and am only bossed around by myself. I'm no one else's slave (if you live in the Philly area and wanna hire me shoot me an email).

So I had this one party for about 20 people planned for mid-July and I had been talking with the host about the food, service, etc. via email. After corresponding as such for a week or so, he asked me to stop by sometime at his house which was right down the street. I told him that I could stop by that night around 7.

I shouldn't have said that. I was cooking and eating with the family then. It crossed my mind to cancel the appointment, but I was under the impression that it was an informal kind of "stop by if you can" type thing. It wasn't. I emailed him later, apologizing and asking if the next night would be ok. But he had already made up his mind. I had lost the job.

Darned customer service. It's infinitely important. Our negotiations were going great until then. But he was right. I easily could've cancelled. And I should've. But this was a valuable business lesson and one that I won't easily forget.