Friday, November 30, 2007
My patriotic activity for the week was a formal, sit-down three-course plus hors d'Ouevres dinner for 14 for some people affiliated with the US Embassy: walnut toasts with blue cheese and fig preserves, ham biscuits, herb-marinated salmon over warm beluga lentil salad, Provencal lamb shanks with garlic mashed potatoes and haricot verts, and mini apple galettes with cardamom-spiced creme fraiche. I am insane, so of course I did this without an assistant and seriously undercharged (Sidenote: I am much too uncomfortable asking for money to free-lance. I seriously think I would do better in a bartering society. Alas....). Even though I felt there were several major things that I c/should have done better, now that the event is a few days behind me, I am feeling pretty OK about it. The first time working for a new client is always the hardest by a lot -- you spend so much time and effort just trying to situate yourself in their kitchen, figure out how their stove works, etc. Luckily, these people have a massive kitchen with an obscene (by Berlin standards) amount of refrigerator-freezer space and three (!) ovens (warm plates!). They also hired two Chileans as waiters, which was great, though linguistically really bizarre. It takes me 15 minutes to find my Spanish during which time I produce an interesting mix of the two plus the ocassional Portuguese and Catalan word. Once I locate the Spanish, it´s fine, but then I am unable to speak to the housekeeper (or anyone else for that matter) in German and it takes me about 24 hours to get back to the Deutsch. The point is, these guys were amazing and essential to the success of this gig. They stalled gracefully when I needed it by refilling wine glasses and brought me the bosses' clean plates to prove that all was not a disaster. I was crazy tired at the end of the night and everything still hurts (mashed potato disaster really did in my upper extremities)...but the clients were really pleased (even claiming that a former Inn at Little Washington chef had praised the food). I´m not so sure, but they have already booked me again for next week, so I suppose all´s well that ends well.