Friday, September 30, 2005

Cast Iron Chef

Originally this was a chef-related, food-related blog.


May I just regress for a moment?

Today I am experiencing my first weekend off since March 26th. Maybe the Republicans have discovered the Internet, after all.

I have been asked about a dozen times this week if I watch Iron Chef. My reply is that I would rather watch a guy have a heart attack, or watch Michael Brown's office-cam about a month ago. Iron Chef is what we do....only worse.

I watched Iron Chef once. What I noticed was that the chef-candidates all had perfect, fresh, organized ingredients......and were working in a pristine professional environment, surrounded by more and better equipment than Rumsfeld gave the 3rd Marines. Not to mention babes bringing the stuff right to them.

Here is my last fortnight:

Breakfast and dinner every day in a carport in Pacific Grove for my Stanford students and leading local scientists. Ten days.

Dinner, breakfast, lunch, wedding, champagne brunch for 100-200 on a cliff in Big Sur. No electricity, no cooling, propane and wood fires only.

Stanford kids move to Big Creek: Breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days in a canyon an hour south of Carmel. No cooling, propane and woodfires only.

Dinner, breakfast, lunch for seven in Carmel in a 50 year old house.

That was the motherfucker.

OK, Iron Chefs.....Give me a menu for 13 meals in a row for the same people, no refrigeration and only propane stoves and Webers for heating. Oh, yeah. You have to shop, prep, serve and clean up yourself. No babes. can sleep in the woods between shifts.

OK, Iron Chefs.....You have 100 progressive young people camping on a cliff an hour south of Carmel. They have had a BBQ dinner, and killer quiche, fruit, champagne, juices, pastries, etc. for the two previous meals. You arrive for the wedding day with a pre-wedding lunch of hundreds of sandwiches: ham, turkey, roast beef, vegetarian. Upon arrival you are immediately abused for a) putting tomatoes in the vegetarian sandwiches; b) putting mustard on the meat sandwiches.

You prepare a meal for 175, with hors d'oeuvres, etc. Upon cutting the amateurish awful blocky cake, one of the progressives offers to beat you up because you are not cutting fast enough, and the precious children have not had seconds before all the adults have been served. Giant iceberg chunks of hideous butter cream are calving off the magic cake with every stroke of your brand new Henckel Granton-edge are surrounded by efficient, experienced, sober waitresses.....but you still need to be beaten for incompetence.

Next morning, you emerge from hiding to help the wife of your representative to the US Congress prepare Eggs Benedict for 100. The camping progressives fail to understand that the 16 amp generator can only make 100 cups of coffee per hour, and actually resort to shaking the 60 cup coffee maker in an attempt to squeeze caffeine from the stainless steel. Those who successfully get coffee launch a torrent of abuse because they drank the half and half the day before. There is still organic milk in all four forms (full, 2%, 1%, non-fat) AND organic whole cream, but no fucking HALF-AND-HALF YOU FUCKING MORON!!!

Wife of Cake Punching Man screams at you because you have no cocoa. Her child ONLY drinks cocoa. She has gone camping for three days without the only beverage her child drinks, but YOU are a fucking moron.......A vision of entitlement that beggars George Bush's wettest dream....and this chick is probably Green Party.........

You invent a system of toasting english muffins for wife-of-congressman for her campfire Eggs Benedict for 100: giant BBQ pit full of coals; sheet pans on the grill; muffins sprayed with organic olive oil......lower grill far enough into the pit to achieve heat. Ooops! They only have commercial charcoal left, and while flipping the muffins you breathe lungsful of awful toxins. Still, wife-of-congressman shouts every 15 seconds for more muffins (Cake Man is assisting with egg poaching....there are lots of eggs).

Migraine ensues.....full collapse. Projectile vomiting of the nothing that has been eaten for days. Drive home. Projectile vomiting is hard in modern seat restraints while driving the Big Sur Coast. At least there was NPR on the radio.

Follow with three days of cooking for 20 on propane burners in the woods....dessert included. (See Milles Etoiles post. Thank God for Milky Way. No, really.....). Don't talk to me of refrigeration.

And the denouement.

Long time client owns a building company and lumber yard. House on Scenic overlooking Point Lobos. Dinner, breakfast, lunch.

Valuable client forgets to mention that the refrigerator (Sub Zero...what a prophetic name....worth less than zero) has broken, the china, silver, linen and glass have been removed by his girlfriend....along with the rolling island workstation, only three burners work on the stove, and the disposal is fucked. Oh, and the microwave was built by Werner von Braun when Eisenhower still had hair.... And the fan is broken, but don't open the windows cuz they fall out.

So: no cooling, nowhere to work, limited heat, no ventilation or drainage.....and NO NOTICE!!! Sweet Sleeping Jesus on His Holy Fucking Mountain!! I have tables, linen, china, glassware, ice and ice chests.........I could bring them and everything. Drop a fucking dime, Buddy!

Love the implied confidence, though.

So......reload all 600 pounds of supplies for the next two meals back into the van, to be returned to cold storage, re-load, re-transported, and re-carried domani......Did I mention my 56th birthday was last week?

No refrigeration. The frozen Parfait Suchard au Rhum is fucked, obviously. So, no dessert. No notice. The guests are already having hors d'oeuvres. What to do? Hmmm. Cast Iron Chef says: Chocolate Soufflée!! Slightly frozen Suchard au Rhum sauce!! Quick run to Nielsen's for flour, dig up soufflée dishes, and Bob's your uncle.

Those of you who are paying attention: what extra ingredient went into the souflée?

Yup.....Milles Etoiles.

Gotta love it.

The guests did.


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