The night of the Slow Food gala dinner in Edmonton was one of the most fun nights I have ever had in a kitchen.
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The gala had Edmonton chefs from diverse backgrounds, experience and knowledge, (not to mention age, as I think I was the oldest of the bunch!), deliver an amazing 8 course meal featuring local food products, beer and wine. All of us have done many meals and functions like this before. I don’t mean to sound snobbish, but that is simply what we do for a living. But this night and gala was different. It was impressive how everyone worked together and had FUN as we tried to put out the best food possible. That task is more difficult than it might sound given that we were in a kitchen that most of us had never cooked in, and quite honestly, because of the fact that most of us had never cooked together.
The food was impressive. The vegetable course was prepared with 27 different vegetables and was truly a work of art, created by someone who clearly loves what they do. It was a dish that people will be talking about for a long time. What the guests didn’t see were all the chefs putting it together. While it was beautiful on the plate, it wasn’t perfectly choreographed in the kitchen. Mind you, this isn’t television, it’s real life, and there were no screaming egotistical maniac chefs.
There was one course in particular that had to be cooked at the last minute. It all came together… almost. We were just about to tidy up when one of the servers came to the kitchen and said that we were short about 20 plates. Someone miscounted, which happens, but I have never seen a team move so quickly and work so well together to get those last 20 dishes out. There was no bickering, we just all jumped in got the food out. It was awesome to be a part of.
I guess the reason the experience was so great for me and the other chefs was that we were all cooking and working together. There was no barking of orders in this kitchen. When you reach the level of chef, a lot of times you get so busy running the kitchen, putting out fires, managing people, building relationships with suppliers that we often don’t have time to go and do the thing that we love…COOK!
This kitchen and night was fun and I think we did a great job, but we were only one part of the equation. The FOH (front of the house) staff did an amazing job. Eight courses is a lot of courses. It requires 1600 plates, knives, forks, and wine glasses! The FOH staff did a fantastic job and they deserve many thanks for making those of us in the kitchen look great.
Sean and Juliana: thanks for hosting us and doing such a great job.
Blair and Paul: great job thanks for organizing and keeping everyone on track.
It was a most pleasurable evening and a pleasure to cook and work with everyone!!