Last weekend I had the pleasure putting together a dinner as a Senior High fundraiser for my church. I posted earlier about some of the planning and advertizing, but a few days ago I had a chance to put all that effort to use. It was great and what follows is a quick summary.
The day before the actual dinner, Dave Allen (the previous events chef), my mother (the seasoned pro) and I got together in the kitchen and did as much preparation as possible. My mother was invaluable in evaluating the dishes beforehand and offering tips to streamline the preparation.
Although sometimes, I must admit, I didn't listen and created more work for myself. For example the red pepper hearts that I wanted to use for garnishing the chicken. The hearts are made up of two pieces each and they need to go on the chicken in the short window in which we are plating them. Common sense would dictate this as extraneous and possibly one of many things that could could make us late in getting the entrée to the table. On the other hand, I thought it would look nice.
After preparing as much as we could, it didn't take long before it was the night of the event. I had intrusted Ruth Maendal with doing the room's deocrations and she didn't dissapoint.
For the final night I had the added help of my good friend Curtis Todd and later my brother. Here Curtis and Dave add layers to the tarts.
After getting everything successfully in the ovens (an exact fit, we couldn't have fed more than the 64 plates we were preparing), it was time for the serving rush. This is one of my favourite times in the kitchen. The heat of the moment, yelling instructions, making last minute judgement calls to account for the unexpected.
The appetizers went flawlessly. The butteriness and warmth of the three cheese tart was the perfect offset for the fresh salad and tangy vinagrette. I loved the way this course turned out.
The main course was even crazier to get ready and out on time, so I don't have pictures of the production line, but I did manage to get a picture of the finished product.
I thought the main course worked out okay. The stuffed peppers had mellowed out nicely in the steamer. The saffron infused spiced rice with pine nuts was good, but nothing to write home about. The chicken parmigiana style chicken breasts (Curtis' last minute idea) were great and had a nice depth of flavour. The only exception I took with was the bed of vegetables we placed it on. We hadn't baked them on a grill, so they had sat in there own juice for a bit. This caused the eggplant to come out weak. It didn't taste meaty enough and had the wrong texture. However, there wasn't a lot of eggplant in the mixture and the other vegetables still worked out great, so I couldn't be too dissapointed.
The dessert had been prepared by the Senior High, so after that it was all out of my hands.
All in all it was a great night and a lot of fun. A big thanks to my main helpers as well as all the kids that helped with plating and serving. They were enthusiastic about helping and did a fantastic job.