As I transition the blog away from the oh-so-depressing world of death, at Chef Ed Z’s wake a few nights ago, as will happen at a wake, the tears gave way to stories. Funny stories because, thank God, Denise L’Hereaux was there! Girlfriend has stories—dating way back to pre-Cobblestones, when This Affair Catering was providing the material!
We were only missing Phyllis Finn—another former, “from day one” staffer of the original Cobblestones crew, and a catering staple. (Phyllis…we WILL be calling on you before the book gets completed..you, Denise, me, and a few White Russians for old time sake…and a pen)
Denise told two stories worth sharing—
The 1st, a simple, “Grand Entrance” tale of us running late to a VFW hall, where we were doing a lunch meal after some big “swearing in” meeting or like that. As Denise recalls, “hungover, a freakin’ mess, and WAY late”—the crew pulls up to the site, and Eddie and Denise make haste. Denise proceeds to rip open the giant door that she thought led to the kitchen (Ba-BOOM!) . Instead, 100+ or so meeting attendees focus their attention on the caterers, disheveled in T shirts and jeans, just arriving, for a lunch that begins in a few minutes. “Excuse me”, as she backs away, pushes the doors closed, and hustles in through another door. And then; “Quick. Plug in the coffee pot. That takes 1/2 an hour. Hot water to the chafers STAT! Not cold, hot! Tablecloths, quick!…” And so it goes. We were damn near almost ready on time….except for the coffee…. as the fuse blew. Twice.
The next, much better story—
Denise and Ed Z arrive to the home of a local funeral home director—a prominent, distinguished, well off community gentleman. The main entrée for dinner is to be Prime Rib. The Prime Rib, after being roasted off site, was placed in what we call a Cambro—A food storage box, with a hinged door on the front, with grooves inside to slide in restaurant sheet pans or chafer-dish inserts. With the door sealed shut, these boxes keep hot food hot, air tight and light weight. But one of the problems with Cambro boxes is that often, in transport—from kitchen to truck,downstairs, upstairs, from truck to house/hall—they do not remain level. They get jostled…tipped..often carried by one of the stronger on staff, who leans the box into the body while carrying it. And, that is all well and good, if the contents are dry.
Notsomuch, when a twelve pound Prime Rib is “resting” inside, fat, water and blood leeching from the meat, puddling in the bottom of the pan, mixing with sea salt and herbs—all that good stuff we basically refer to on the menu as “Pan juices!”
Back to arrival on the job. Ed and Denise enter the beautiful home of the aforementioned funeral director, and are directed to the main room where the meal is to be served. The table is arranged for buffet, in the brand new, “sparkling” room upon the “lovely white carpet.” As service time approaches, the Cambro is lifted on to the table, to extract the steaming, streaming, juicy Prime Rib. The hinges are unclasped, the door swung open, and SPLASH! On to the white carpet flows a stream of “pan juices.” To hear Denise tell the story, with her great enthusiasm, panicked face, hands waving and “holy shit” realism is hysterical. “Oh shit! Eddieeee…we are SO dead!”
Picture Ed, with palms pressed to the temples and an “Oh No” Mr. Bill face…then a smirk and a cry for “Get me towels. NOW! Lots of towels! And keep those doors closed!”
We served, we left, no stain. And one of the absolut keys to our business, until the blogs and books are written– No one is the wiser!
You want stories? Cater.
(I wish someone knew how to get me responses to this blog, for posting and sharing, that are not hundreds of SPAM garbage. I would love to hear YOUR stories too! If you know someone good with this stuff, please email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org Your assistance is worth, at the very least, a juicy Prime Rib dinner!