Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Catering Story

I was hoping to have pictures to go with this story, but I'll just have to share them with you when I get them.

We'll start at the beginning. Last month, Aline contacted me because she was throwing a baby shower for a friend and she wanted to know if I'd cater it. Because I seriously can't say no to a friend I said yes- and seriously how fun does that sound?

I recruited my partner in crime, Liz to help me. This girl is seriously amazing. Seriously. She's been my absolute rock the past couple of weeks and makes the most fantastic food ever. Besides that, she has separate cutting boards for "sweets" (like fruit) and "savories" (like onions). How could you not be madly in love. (I won't even get into the fact that she keeps buttercream frosting and sugar cookies in her freezer....just in case....)

We mapped out a brilliant menu that we didn't think would be very hard:
Chicken Satay with peanut sauce
Grilled shrimp skewers with pineapple salsa
Coconut rice
Roasted veggies
Fruit Salad
Spinach Salad in Wonton cups
Goat cheese, pesto, and sundried tomato torta
Banana Milk Shooters
Pineapple Passionfruit Punch
Cupcakes (Hi Hats and Chocolate with pink frosting)

The party started at 1, plan was to be there between 12 and 12:30 so we could set up the food before the guests arrived. We split up the prep work. By Saturday morning Liz had created GORGEOUS cupcakes, and I'd made the peanut sauce, won ton cups, salad dressing, and a couple tortas. Then came Saturday morning, a little play by play for you:

8:30 AM - I arrive at Liz's and bring in bags and bags and bags of groceries. We decide the first thing to do is marinate the chicken while we prepare everything else. I run down the street to drop off my car for an oil change.
*side note* When we got my car it came with free oil changes for life. The only problem is we don't live anywhere near the dealership. However, the dealership is literally .9 miles (ha!) away from Liz's place, so I figured I'd drop it off for an oil change and pick it up after the party.

9:30 AM - Liz comes to pick me up from the dealership since it took AN HOUR before they even took my car and the shuttle was showing no signs of being anywhere around. The coconut rice is already in the rice cookers bubbling away and the chicken is marinating.

10:30 AM - Veggies are chopped and roasted, fruit salad, pineapple salsa, banana milk all ready to go. We decide to assemble the salad, broil the shrimp, and make the punch at the party to keep everything as fresh as possible. That means, all we have left is to cook the chicken skewers! Easy peasy right?

11:30 AM - Chicken is still not cooked. No big deal, how much longer could it take right? We up the heat, rotate the skewers and pop them back in. At this point we load everything else up into the car.

12:30 PM - Chicken is now cooked, but a DISGUSTING shade of white. Really pale and gloopy. Like dead fingers reaching from the grave. Not appetizing. We call Aline and let her know we're running a little late. Change the oven to broil and look at each other. Liz gets the brilliant idea that we should pan fry the chicken skewers just a bit to get them nice and brown. Only problem? The skewers are a little too long for the pans. At this point we're both standing over her stove with hot oil everywhere trying to brown the chicken. At one point I tell her I hate us. She mentions numerous times that she's not too fond of the chicken. We're hot, we're cranky, and thank goodness we can't stop laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation or someone would have ended up with a skewer in their eye or hot oil on their arms (I am REALLY sorry about that Liz).

1:30 PM - Remember how the party started at 1? Well we're not there yet, but at least we're on our way. Finally. I'm still not sure if the chicken was actually browned or our eyes just willed us to believe it wasn't a sickly white. We only get lost once and make it to the party at 1:45 PM where we start assembling salad and punch and setting things on the table. Remember the grilled shrimp? Yeah never happened. Luckily there was enough chicken to feed 100 people, so I doubt the shrimp was missed, but still.... We're apologizing profusely the entire time, although no one seems to mind and everyone is raving about both the food and the presentation. (Liz confides in me on our way home that everyone was so hungry we probably could have fed them cardboard and they would have been happy. And honestly, cardboard takes a lot less time to prepare.......just a tip......)

2:30 PM - We're on our way home. We laugh the entire time and vow never to do this again. By the time we get back to her place, Liz decides this was really fun and I decide if I ever get into a jam I want Liz there with me. We vow that although we may not do this for others again, we're definitely going to help each other throw more parties. We both go home and take naps.

Things I learned from this experience:
1) Chicken Satay is the devil. Next time just serve chicken salad - or as Liz called our gloppy mess - Chicken Casserole.
2) If you were going to be President, make sure you have Liz as your running mate.
3) People will eat just about anything if you serve it with banana milk.
4) When in doubt, add garlic salt or white chocolate.


  1. Great recap!! At least you were able to laugh together!

  2. i'm willing to bet it turned out so much better than you think it did. seriously, we're all our own worst critics.

    i can't wait to see pictures of how everything looked :)

  3. awesome recap! i was cringing and laughing at all the right places.

    and about #5 on your're totally right. i know i owe you a truckload of jelly beans -- but please know i do appreciate everything you've done for me.

  4. i'm drooling at the thought of those hi-hat cupcakes.

    and ditto amber - can't wait for pics!

  5. Awww... sounds like a lot of work but a lot of fun, too. If you ever need someone to over commit to, I'm your girl <3

  6. Great story! LOL! Catering is a hard business. One thing to note (it may or may not have worked): butter is a browning agent. If you had brushed melted butter with some soy sauce for added color, your chicken may have browned better. If you use peanut oil the chicken stays really white. But it all sounded yummy and like you pulled it off.

    I hear you about the jelly beans. I am sick of not getting the return sometimes.

  7. Now that my oil burns have healed the whole thing is a lot more funny! You tell a fabulous story, Kate!!

  8. I am sad at the lack of photographic evidence, but the descriptions are fabulous!

  9. You are a rockstar for taking this on. But you must learn to say no to keep yourself sane!

  10. 1. I love you and Liz. You both crack me up and I can totally picture all of this happening in my head!

    2. You have a good analogy with #5. This is something I made a goal for myself a few years ago and I feel like I am sticking to it. It's hard, because you want to help people, but you need to think about YOU first.

    It's all about YOU, my friend!! :-D

  11. You are TOO funny! Jelly bean bowl...I'm with you there. lol!

    I'm soooo sorry for the horrible experience, but at least you guys made light out of it. Learn from your mistakes, right? :)

  12. Thanks for the story! That is so something that would happen to me. I always end up in over my head. But it sounds like you guys had everything pretty much together. The chicken just decided it wasn't playing your game.;)

  13. Even with all the stress of having things go wrong, it sounds like it was still fun.

  14. That is a very generous offer. I get stressed if I have to prepare more than two dishes for 4+ people, so catering for everyone is a lot. I'm not great at hording my jellybeans either. Sometimes you've just got to say, "screw off - the red ones are mine!"

    I wish I had a Liz of my own.

  15. Sounds like a great experience... despite the white chicken stressing you out you guys must have had such fun together.

  16. Great story. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to make the movie. ;)