Yesterday reminded me of my experiences taking students to France and getting them all installed in their new homes at the start of their month long stay. Crisis after crisis to be solved by a think on your feet perspective at a very rapid pace.
I guess all my 19 trips to France prepared me for what I had to go through on this day.
I got up and drove into Denver to arrive at the Sheraton at 9am. There were a few of the volunteers there ready to assist. I met up with the uber tech crew of David Arnold and Nils Noren from the FCI and started to get an idea of the magnitude of what they were attempting to make for their demo.
When they sent over there equipment requirements, I almost fell off my seat. I found out that day, that the management company (I assume the old one before Kellen company took over) asked them what equipment they would want in an ideal world and David just threw all the toys he could think of.
Will Poole from WEN chocolates was the kitchen set up volunteer leader for the day and he came in like a whirlwind (as usual) and got all the volunteers to clean up the boxed equipment and set up a periphery around our prep kitchen. We grabbed whatever metal prep tables and speed racks we could and set up ground zero (or as I refer to it the Alamo, my students didn’t feel that was a good image). IACP has accumulated a lot of donated equipment throughout the years that nobody has bothered to discard. It is clear that Viking has donated a whole bunch of equipment. But there are so many crappy little knick knacks. We cleaned it all nonetheless and cleaned all the hotel equipment (they were disgustingly dirty).
Meanwhile I am trying to figure out the most expeditious way to get the rest of the food to all the recipients. I have the school instructed to tell me whenever a box comes through their door. They are receiving a Liquid Nitrogen delivery and of course many little things for our friend Andoni. All along there is jack hammering going on above our heads and it is deafening. the Sheraton is undergoing a 70 million renovation which just so happens to coincide with this conference. We are told they will stop the construction for the conference.
But there is hope as I have the support of Patricia Belaire a former start student who has aggreed to be my Crisis Manager and help me by being my outside shopper.
So my goal is to consolidate all my food orders and then make one big circle of pick ups and drop offs and hopefully make everyone happy with the least amount of trips.
I send Patricia to Whole Foods to pick up a whole list of food and then I have her go to the Asian Market to try to find small crabs that Andoni wants because he got a revelation on the plane along with Oswaldo.
Meanwhile my volunteer group is getting antsy during some downtime so I get them to run to Cook Street to pick up a few items that came in and to gather all the Bauscher plates so that I can have the chefs choose which ones they want plate their food on.
Patricia is taking forever to get to the hotel and I am starting to get nervous. I know that Andoni needs his fish. David Arnold is looking for a cryovac machine, a Paco Jet, a juicer and pressure cooker. Earlier in the morning Ian Kleinman dropped off his immersion circulator, a CO2 tank and a dehydrator. Will Poole and I are brainstorming on how we can get the equipment. I call up my old job and they agree to deliver the Paco Jet, the pressure cooker and the juicer. I call up Douglas Baldwin who is teaching a class on sous vide at school and ask him if he can lend us his cryovac machine. I believe that my equipment crisis is solved and all is expected to arrive in time for the culinary Sigfried and Roy show.
I am checking in with my food orders. Most of the fish is in at Seattle Fish and will be ready for pick up by 1 pm. All of my special vegetable order is in at Coosemans but we have to be there by 2pm to pick it up, most of my orders have arrived at Cook Street. Everything is clicking into place. But where is Patricia? My crisis manager is my crisis.
She eventually arrives and brings in the groceries. I am in a mad mental rush to get on the road, but I try to settle down to make sure not to make any mistakes. We go through our list. What do we need to take with us and drop off at Cook Street, what do we need to drop off at JWU and what do we need to leave at the Sheraton.
We get it all together and head off to Cook Street. I relay to Douglas Baldwin that we need his cryovac machine and tell him who to call. I see the huge canister of liquid nitrogen (space age). Pick up the stuff we need from there and try to get as quickly on the road as possible. It is 1:45 pm.
Back on the road, I ask Patricia to call Coosemens and get directions, then I have her call Seattle fish to get directions. I ask her to find out which is closest to our present location so we don’t have to backtrack. Patricia gets all confused, but eventually gets the info we need. Seattle Fish is closest.
I had never been to Seattle fish before. When I worked at CSR we always used Northeast seafood. Seattle Fish is really modern and clean. Not what I had envisioned in my mind. Chris got our order together sans cod (which Andoni only wanted for the skin) or Sardines for another class. We then take off for Coosemans which is a little father east (lot farther) and pull up at 2:30pm. The front door is locked. No way. ……….. We see a truck pull away and we stop it. “is there anyone inside?’ Yes there is. Patricia calls them up. We go in through the back door and they bring out our order. It is huge and can barely fit in my trunk. We try to sort it out based on what we are dropping off where.
Quick off to JWU. We arrive and you could tell that the Andoni’s team was quite nervous about the delay of the fish. We give him everything we have for him and start to distribute the rest to some of the bags I had already prepared the day before.
Oswaldo comes rushing back.
“Where’s the COD!”
“On the plane my friend, supposed to come in this evening. You can’t have it until the morning.” ”
What about the crab?”
“Patricia tried two asian markets and my fish purveyor can’t get it, forget about the crab.”
“Where can I go to get it? I will drive right now to find it. ”
He rushes off and tries to get the JWU purchase manager involved in the solution.
I bring a large box of Bauscher plates to the room and have Andoni choose the ones he wants. It’s a stressful time and you can tell the team is trying to figure out the solution to their present crisis.
Oswaldo says “we need fish skin any kind of fish skin.” OK let me call Seattle Fish again and talk to Chris. “Chris do you have any fish skin left from any fish you just filleted?” “I think so let me go check…………….yes we do come on over.”
I start to head out the door. Chris calls back “chef turn around they just threw all the fish skin into the renderer.”
I start to think. “Chris can I just buy a whole salmon and you skin it for me and I’ll take the meat and skin?” “sure.”
So we are back on the road to get the salmon. Fortunately they agree to cancel our COD order and we grab the fish and return to JWU.
You can tell that Andoni is really appreciative and says I’m “crack.” What did he say?, I ask to where’s Oswaldo. “Your crack, it means you get the job done.”
Quick back to Cook Street to drop off some vegetables. I get a call while I am in the walk-in ” chef it’s Adam, I’m on my way and should be there in a few minutes” Excuse me who are you” I ask completely disoriented. ” I am the chef at CSR bringing you the Paco Jet.” “oh so sorry I had completely forgotten you were coming at 5.”
and then on to the Sheraton. Drop off the vegetables. Meet with Patricia and make sure we are all set for tomorrow the first day of the conference. I am waiting for Adam. David Arnold is hoping the pressure cooker is coming and he is quickly pushing the juicer we loaned him from the school to extinction.
Carrie Balkcom returned from her Chico basin tour and brought me my Callicrate flatiron steaks.
The lady with the Cholla Buds calls me. “I have your buds, where do we meet.” Adam arrives at almost the same time “where are you.” I manage to find him and we go to his car to get the rest of the Paco Jet gear. I meet up with Mary Paganelli the Cholla bud lady and she proceeds to give me detailed instructions on how to cook them. Adam couldn’t bring a pressure cooker and CSR doesn’t have their juicer anymore.
Downstairs to put away buds and tell David the bad news. I run into Carrie again. “Do you have a pressure cooker?” “what kind do you want?” I get her on that project and I head back home.
One last project. Go the liquor store to get David Arnold some Tanqueray and some St. Germain.
I survived D-Day minus one.