Up at 6am and back to the Sheraton. My body is wrecked and the cumulative exhaustion is taking its toll. This is the last day and fortunately there should be very little that could go wrong. Everyone has their food and the volunteers are all lined up. The events taking place at JWU are in the very capable hands of Marcia Kramer. I might even be able to enjoy this day and catch some classes.
I arrive at the Sheraton parking lot and the stench is more pungent than usual. The lot is particularly difficult to negotiate as they have tried to get as many spaces in the tight lot as possible.
Sharon, Vicki and Justin (all students that were at the Wild and Rare event the night before) are all there prepping for the two classes being offered that morning. Justin is working on the lamb class and Vicki and Sharon are working on the Sardines, Anchovies and Mackerel class.
They seem to have it all together and there are no last minute situations that require my attention. I go to see Toni Lydecker and Sam Hayward to see if they need anything. I apologize for the fish situation and give them a run down of the issues we had. I talk to Sam and ask him if he knows Gallit Sammon. He is amazed to hear that name. We talk fondly about her for awhile.
I notice there is a presentation on how to increase your internet presence so I see if I can fit in. It is a fascinating presentation and I learn alot. I also learn that I know a good amount already. The big take away was to become a featured publisher on FoodBuzz. Yet another site I will have to click and update. What someone needs to create is a site where you can manage all your sites at once (did I just give away a million dollar idea?). This probably already exist or is in the works. So far I have, My Blog, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Slideshare, Vodcast and now FoodBuzz. Of course I also have my yahoo which has RSS feed from quite a few other blogs I follow.
At the presentation they were talking about creating a separate Facebook identity just to handle close friends and family. Have you noticed how quickly you get inundated with the daily updates on the new Facebook format? I can only imagine what that must be like for people that have over six hundred friends.
After the class I go to check in on how the other classes went and they were all quite successful. We still have to pack all the cooking gear that IACP brought to the conference. They should seriously consider doing some triage of all the gear as there are many pieces that are completely unnecessary. Viking obviously donated one of each item they make to IACP. Steve brings us the crate and we pack almost 80% of the gear up. Justin still has the Bourbon class to attend and I need to head off to Cook Street for the Artisan Pizza class.
The hotel is serving up the final lunch and I decide to attend. I look around the banquet room and find Sylvia Tawse and Tim Stein. I have lunch with them and also meet the Chair of the Host committee for next year’s conference in Portland. His name is Mike Thelin and he already has business cards designed for the title.
Cathy Cochran Lewis is giving her farewell address as IACP president and goes around the room to thank all that participated in making the conference happen in Denver. I am thanked publicly again.
After lunch (not worth commenting on the what they served), I went back to the prep kitchen and got intercepted by Holly Arnold. She wanted the Demo kitchen to be sanitized and the trash removed. I would have hoped that the volunteer in charge would have cleaned it, but what the hell.
I clean the space and then I head over to Cook Street to insure all goes well. As I leave I tell Holly that her JWU student volunteers should be there shortly. I hope and pray there will be no issues there.
I pull out of the garage one last time and head down 15th Street. At about two blocks down I notice that the stoplights are not functioning. As a matter of fact not one from that point on until I get to Cook Street is working. Clearly this is a major power outage. We were already concerned with running this class as we were expecting snow that morning (they were saying 1 foot but really only a couple of inches of wet snow fell). It was still pretty windy.
As I pull up to Cook Street I see that Antonio Laudisio has indeed set up his wood burning oven on the sidewalk and that Cami has loaned them a tent which is already getting a beating from the wind.
The inside is dark but all the key players are there. We are committed to runing the course and Tina our FOH manager is already busy getting candles lit.
Participants start to arrive. “Yes the lights are out in the city and yes we are running the class, make yourself comfortable and we will make sure it all goes smoothly.”
We set up candles in the bathrooms (the last place anyone wants to be in the dark) and we are cooking ovens in wood burning ovens so all is good. We actually get an amazing showing of around 40 participants. Once everyone accepts our situation then we are ready to proceed. Talk about the ultimate sustainable environment. No lights just wood burning and candles.
Cathy Whims and her sous chef is up first and they go over their style of pizza. Once they present they run off to cook their Margherita pizzas.
Next Peter comes up and presents. By then I realize I can take pictures with my tripod and maybe catch some of this without flash.
The crowd is really digging this and I know it will be one of the most memorable events of the conference.
The pizzas start to be passed around and the ones made by Cathy Whims are amazing. I manage to click a few shots of the girls in action with Cami pointing the flashlight on them while they worked. Thomasino is working the wood burning oven and is doing great. My former students are being rock stars and that just feels great.
The pizzas keep coming around, kindly passed by my students, they all taste amazing. We are reaching the end of the presentation. I get countless request for recipe packs. “yes, well as soon as the power comes back on we will print all the copies we need.”
And then in the last half hour of the presentation the power comes on. There is a collective sigh and joy at the return of our creature comforts. Now I can take pictures.
The class ends with Antonio having to leave with his wood burning pizza oven and many questions from the crowd. We were treated to a great presentation and frankly I am ready to get back to my family. Sylvia tells me to take a picture of Antonio in front of Cook Street so:
The class is over and once again many people come up to me to tell how much they enjoyed their experience at our school.
It’s over……………..the conference is over…………..and I am heading back to my family with the comfort of knowing that I was instrumental in making this conference successful.
Too many people to thank, but I especially thank all the volunteers, Marcia Kramer, Carrie Balkcom and the most special thanks to Patricia Belaire for helping out in her most difficult time.
Next year PORTLAND.