Saturday, July 30, 2011

Feeding the masses

So on a "lunch break" at home to let the dogs out to play and, you know... I found the energy to report the biggest day in Flying Fish Catering history! I realize that I briefed the reader(s) with my previous post but this day deserved a post all of its own!

Saturday, July 23rd we catered the wedding of Ryan Burgher & Neena Kishan. The guest list was finalized at 496- the biggest event we have ever done!

Both have been friends of ours for quite some time & we could not have been more honored to serve at their wedding. After the disaster that was Friday. After the generator was returned. After the rain cleared up on Saturday.
(Yes, it rained on & off all day Saturday as well. In fact, minutes before the ceremony was to begin, we were wiping down all the chairs with any piece of dry cloth we could find!)

And after setting up a tent of 62 tables, 2 long buffet tables, & one fairly well-stocked bar....

...the wedding ceremony began...

It was one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies ever.....

And then all 496 people were dismissed from the ceremony to the bar. To us. And despite all the scrambling before, we were ready. We were organized. Servers were told that if they even made a peep about the heat, I would throw something at them! However, the attitudes were high & I am not sure that it was my pre-wedding speech that made them that way. Our staff is amazing. 

We had out own tent for the food

We plated & served 496 individual salads

We watered every glass

We put bread, compound butter & olive oil at every table
We were ready for the masses. We loaded the bar with bartenders & watched as the thirsty guests flooded in. It was

There was a cocktail hour where we served drinks & sushi. Guests chatted about the ceremony & staked their claim on seats in the reception tent. Some began eating their salads but, whatever... : ) As guests mingled, we began plating the buffet for dinner.

Chicken skewers, fresh pasta...

...grilled asparagus w/ manchego...
...and figs! LOTS of figs!

Dinner service went off without a hitch. I was signaling to my 'captains' in the reception tent from my station in the buffet tent... dismiss 1 table, dismiss 2 tables... We got 496 people through 4 buffet lines in 50 minutes! A new world record for Flying Fish! We were 40 minutes AHEAD of schedule! The speeches that were supposed to keep the night flowing as guests continued through the food lines gathered the undivided attention of everyone there while they were finishing their meals.... It was a win! 

Tables began to be bussed & the dishes started coming back... lots to wash!

Then came the cake plating.... again, 496 plates of assorted Betty's cake!

And after all the food was cleared & all the glasses were emptied, we began to pack it up... It was truly a success in our eyes. We had done something that we truly didn't know was possible.... And although it was a success, at the end of the night, this picture kind of says it all... : )

Congratulations Ryan & Neena! What a memorable day!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Words cannot explain...

I wish I had super insightful words to explain the week we had this past week... but the exhaustion has taken over my body & mind & I am at a loss... So I will do my best to express the uniqueness that was this week- a week unlike any other in the 5 years at the restaurant.

To start, Monday was Megan Muldoon's last day as a server at the restaurant. She had been with us since the first summer we opened. She was not only the best server that Cerulean has ever seen but she had become a close friend & last summer, our neighbor! We shared hours upon hours at the restaurant working, drinking after a long shift, & solving all of life's great dilemma's. We discussed dreams, aspirations, challenges, politics, social justice, food, wine, dogs, goals in life... to name a few. There was never a dull discussion with Megan. We have seen her through her first year of marriage, getting a dog, graduating from college, and now, graduating from her Master's program in counseling. She will be greatly missed at the restaurant. There will never be another 'trendsetter' like Megan Muldoon.

The other great thing about Megan was her husband Jeff. He has also worked for us at the restaurant for multiple years in the kitchen. He developed the name "tapa papa" after progressing from not knowing how to slice a lemon to sauteeing multiple pans at once & cooking for 120 on a regular basis. The couple is moving on to Ohio where Jeff is enrolled in Podiatry Med School. What an amazing couple. I will deeply miss our neighbors...

Jeff's last shift @ Cerulean

Muldoon's moving (morning) day : (

This week also smacked me with the realization that summer is quickly passing by as well as my front of the house staff. I held 5 interviews this week & I don't even think that is enough. I will probably have to interview more. We currently have 2 trainees in route to their dinner server 'certification' but that does not even scratch the surface of what I will need for the fall. This is going to be the biggest turnover in Cerulean history & I can't say that I am thrilled. However, I know there are great people out there & I can see the silver lining imagining that this second wave of people have potential to be as great as the first.....

Friday marked a day of madness.... unforgettable, to say the least.... We catered a wedding for 500 this Saturday. Outside. Under a tent. In a field. Well, by Friday morning, everything for this wedding had been delivered: CASES upon cases of food, wine, beer, etc. Plus the tent, chairs, & generator to the field.

the catering tent with generator

the reception tent, buffet/bar tent, & gift tent
We were back and forth all morning & early afternoon making sure everything was in place. All 1100 plates, 1500 forks, 500 knives, & over 2000 pieces of glassware. Not to mention the food that was packed floor to ceiling in our coolers at the restaurant. I was praying all day that someone would not get pinned in there from something unstable!

Well then at about 2.00p on Friday, the boom hit. Literally. We were ambushed by a severe thunderstorm followed by a tornado...

this was on our deck about 5 feet from our huge glass window!


a little dishevled 

bean bag puncture wound
...accompanied with power outage.... and a full reservation book for the dinner shift.... and a full cooler with thousands of dollars of food for the restaurant AND the wedding we were catering the next day....


... so staff arrived at their normal time for work only to find a dark kitchen & stale air in the dining rooms. Oh yea, did I forget to mention that it has been 95 degrees plus here all week as well. Friday was no exception. 

Anyway, with 100 on the books, no electricity which means, no phone system, no air conditioning, no light to prep food, no cash drawer to settle out lunch, no computer for staff to clock in & out.... we made due & pulled together just like the Cerulean Crew always does....

kitchen moved their prep outside

front of the house set up the dining rooms & then pretended to take over the kitchen

and then we all waited patiently for power.... outside at 90 degrees was still cooler than waiting in the restaurant
And as with any good story, the irony of the situation came out when we were able to bring the generator that had been rented for the 500 person wedding & delivered that morning- from the field, to the restaurant. After a few cell phone calls to early reservations accompanied with apologies & negotiating.... we hooked up the generator to the restaurant & VOILA- by 6.00p we were back in business!

if only it had really been that easy!
And we were the ONLY ones back in business. We found out later that the rehearsal dinner for the wedding we were catering was moved to a cookout @ the bride's parents house due to their restaurant choice being without power all night! I write this on Sunday as others are still without power...

So the night progressed with a full house & cases of food saved from spoilage. Praise the Lord! Friday night survival.... now on to Saturday.... 

However, right now Saturday will have to wait... exhaustion has truly set in & that will be saved for another post! 

On another positive note... the bullies have been in stick heaven since the storm!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sleep deprived & loving it!

I have to admit, it would be really easy for me to have a horrible attitude right now. I am getting ready to approach a next few weeks where I am basically losing half of my staff. Yes, half. The restaurant biz doesn't have the greatest reputation in regard to turnover... but, for the most part, we get wonderful, committed staff. The problem is, for most, it is not an end goal. Sad for me. So why am I not freaking out? (well, maybe I have my moments) Why am I not concerned during the BuSiEsT time of year? As I have learned & grown over the years, I have realized that with every great trial, there is usually a bigger picture presented that keeps my head focused & my heart thankful. In the past 2 weeks alone we have had so many successes!

We celebrated the holiday with live music in the Garden! It was the first time in Cerulean history to bring in a couple musicians... it was fantastic!

We got our 3 way liquor license approved, mailed, and in hand! Now, that may not sound like a great accomplishment but living in a town where only 10 years ago, there were remonstrators speaking out AGAINST beer & wine coming to the community at that approval hearing... it was quite the day in history. The court room was almost full with about 50 supporters in FAVOR of the license. Not a single person showed to argue against it! Wow, the times are changing & we were so humbled by the support! Read about it here.... Now, to find the space to utilize it... : )

We also saw our first printed drawings for the restaurant in Indianapolis! Oh man, it's getting real! We got permission from the developer to basically "do what we want" & then if they have a problem with it, they'll let us know! We are still amazed & thankful for the freedom we have to be who we are. Watch out Indy! : )

And then there's Lenny....

Who knows why, where, or when we really thought it was a good idea to get a puppy right now?! It was now or never.... and I wouldn't trade him for the world! AND although there were a few days of pouting, I think Banks would say the same. 

And possibly even Caleb...

It is nice to have a 'baby' distraction amidst the chaos. It is nice to have something that focuses on the long term & doesn't let me get boxed in to the here and now. It's nice to have perspective in the simple form of a dependent puppy (which is about the biggest form of commitment I can handle right now- I know what some of you are thinking!). 

So, I will have my freak out moments over the next month, I am sure of that. I will live a bit in denial. I will distract my anxiety with a free spirited puppy. But I will also choose to focus on all that is good & trust that what needs to be... will be.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chef Camp

So I grew up going to VBS, volleyball camp, basketball camp, etc. Summers were filled with different week long activities that involved sports or some sort of craft.... Well the tables have turned a bit now. Instead of being the attendee, we were running the show. And instead of it being sports or crafts, we were... CHEF CAMP!
Caleb was asked to lead a week long chef camp for kids through a local grocery store. And of course, he needed an assistant. So, here we are at Martins... teaching the kids to cook! 
We were to cook through 5 Children's books. We read the book at the beginning of class & then we learned how to cook different items that were in the book! I must say... I learned quite a bit!

The Hungry Little Caterpillar

Caleb teaches food basics!

Green Eggs & Ham
So we made Green Eggs & Ham Pizza!

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Homemade Pasta!

Cutting veggies for our sauce

Bon App├ętit!

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

...with strawberry frosting...

...and chocolate...


Jam hands!

So 8 kids, 5 days, 5 books, & many dirty dishes (and hands!) later... Survival of Chef Camp! What a new, fun way to spend a week in the summer!