I have received some feedback that we haven't been posting enough so I'm back and I will try to pay attention. I will also try to help Alex remember to post on his blog.
I read the most fascinating statistic about our lives recently (I often find out interesting tidbits about us from other sources!), on the folk festival weekend we led a group of people in generating 50, 000 meals. This feels mind-boggling and yet at the same time, it was the most incredible, exhilarating experience imaginable. The whole 5 days, I felt consumed by the needs of these 5, 000 people; it felt a little bit like having a giant group of insatiably hungry children. Constant line ups of folks looking for a nosh. We fed them bison short ribs (500 pounds eaten in 45 minutes!), barbecued chicken, baked raspberry cream cheese french toast, lamb tagine, and baked macaroni and cheese. We had a 'guerilla tent' that popped up and served up tasty surprises like caesar mussels and huevos rancheros. We paired drinks like Moroccan sweetened mint tea (like they have at the hamam - so yummy) with the tagines.
We plan for months to do this week. We write the menus and then Alex writes the recipes from scratch. I sort out who does what when to get the food from written idea to end product. We figure out how much food, sort out volunteers, find tents and gators, design and have Hutterites build ovens, meet with health inspectors and office staff. We have to think and work hard to pull off running the backstage kitchen at the folk festival.
On the weekend itself, the running around and trying to physically pull of this feat was pretty crazy... Oh my, 6 boxes of potatoes need to sliced on the dicing wall and this chicken needs to be grilled on these flat tops and I better move these 24-100 oz cans of kidney beans to make way for the 20 watermelons about to arrive. Of course, me being me, I looked down at one point while I was grilling chicken on the fly and realized I was wearing a cashmere sweater, a fabulous scarf and Brown's platform heels! Sometimes I can be ridiculous.
Trying to keep track of the paper work and figuring out who should cook what when, left me with very few thoughts by the end of the weekend (see sweater/footware choices above). I get to a point during this weekend where I honestly think I am no longer making sense. I can't remember people's names, I'm blurry and confused. It's not necessarily pretty. However, I noticed this year, that I kept it together. Usually I wind up having a weepy time where I sort of fall apart and cry for awhile. I usually take a time out and get someone to drive me around the site while I get it together but this year I was fairly calm.
The biggest high comes from the people. My favourite part of the whole weekend is having two thousand people lined up in a giant tent for dinner and yelling out "Dinner's served!" and people whooping and cheering in appreciation; it send shivers up my spine every time. I love walking through the kitchen and meeting the people transforming our thoughts and ideas into actual food. I love listening in to conversations between volunteers about their real-life worlds, or their festival experiences or their thoughts on the food. I love the connection; I find it endlessly fascinating.
After the festival week is said and done, I walk away feeling like I have learned so much that it will take me until next year just to figure it all out. I feel like I have been raised up by the process of two hundred non-cooks coming together and creating haute cuisine. I feel like it is my responsibility to go out for the rest of the year and live the lessons I have learned about being part of a community. I feel like I am challenged to be a better person by being involved in this ridiculous, crazy-ass project.
And so, I get back to my restaurant with high expectations of myself.