Jan 20, 2010

The Dinner Party

As many of you know, I have been bitching about expressing how nervous I was to cater my first formal dinner party.  Sure I have cooked for plenty a party, but these were chili and cornbread; turkey sausage pasta; big salad, bread and dessert kind of parties, not silver, crystal and china kind of parties.

Well, said formal party was last night and I have lived to tell the tale.  It was not bad at all, and I was extremely uncomfortable.  Not with the cooking, but with the serving (I didn't learn how to be a server in culinary school-duh).  I guess that fact was lost on my client.

Client was lovely.  Lovely.  She asked me to arrive at 4pm and the party was starting at 7pm.  Funny, it seemed so early and yet I was caught off guard when it was suddenly 6:35pm and I hadn't started to pipe the smoked salmon spread on my Persian cucumber slices, much less started picking out perfect dill sprigs to garnish.  Oye.

I was distracted by my client's "gentleman friend" who was 45 minutes early and was happy as a clam to talk to me about his fruit trees.  I had my one moment of sheer panic when my makeshift piping bag (Ziplock bag with a petal tip pressed through the corner and fastened with Scotch tape-it worked SO well when I tested it in my kitchen the previous day...) as the salmon spread kept escaping from various holes in the bag, covering my hands and threatening to plop onto the pristine silver tray I was trying desperately to fill.  I pretended this was supposed to happen and willed perfect dollops to appear on 45 cucumber slices.

Yeah, I was already sweating through my chef's coat.

The menu was easy and almost everything had been pre-baked and just needed reheating, with the exception of some bacon wrapped dates and green beans that needed blanching.

Here was the full menu:

Hors D'oeuvres

Bacon wrapped dates
Smoked salmon spread on Persian cucumbers


Mustard crusted brisket with melted leeks
Creamy horseradish sauce
Golden raisin kugel
Green beans with almonds and lemon
Bread and butter
Ginormous fruit platter


Peppermint ice cream
Dark chocolate sauce
Guilty Vegan truffles

Again, the food was not freaking me out.  Serving, pouring wine, clearing, continuously pushing food on guests at the recommendation of my client until they screamed "uncle!"...WAS freaking me out.

I was going to take pictures and then the party happened and I went to some far off work mode land where they have no cameras.

Here are a few shots of the brisket that I took at home on prep day:

So, this "baker's rack" is actually some cheap Office Depot shelf jobby that husband bought for our old office.  Now that we have a fancy wooden bookshelf, this guy was supposed to get put out to pasture in the garage.  Because of rain and husband having a life, it hasn't made it out yet, which worked out PERFECTLY when I needed to cool food down fast.

These are my two briskets.


The light was cracking me up.  Holy briskets are these.


Cow close up.


Although only cooking for 8, I made two briskets because the client kept stressing that she wanted "too much food".  Coming right up! I thought, until I watched them consume 90% of both.  Damn I'm good.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to grow as a chef, learn as a servant, and truly appreciate having a dishwasher.  If it were not for Josephina, I would still be in that condo, crying onto the crystal goblets from Argentina.


  1. Of course we all knew you'd be absolutely BRILLIANT - Congratulations on surviving your first formal dinner party!

  2. What an incredible learning experience AND you got paid for it!! I thik it is soooo very cool this is what you're up to and in to, I can't even tell you! FYI, disposable pastry bags are a MUST, and not that expensive lol

  3. What a challenge! You had me sweating just thinking about it...I could never be a personal chef. Way too much stress. The menu looks like it was lovely and I cracked up at the brisket lighting. Holy brisket indeed! Congratulations on pulling it off with style!