Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chef Debbie Says: Money ≠ Class ~ Part II

If you didn't read Money ≠ Class ~ Part I you may want to before reading Part II.

So, The Jerk, in his 5'3" 140 pound, wimpy, Napoleon~complexed builder importantness shows me through his house. I say house instead of home because the difference is obvious. A home is warm and inviting. The Jerk's house is oversized in every way boasting a faux English medieval decor and that nouveau riche smell that you just can't quite eliminate.

The next day, rather than bother picking up the phone I sent The Jerk an e~mail detailing the courses I'd be serving and giving him a complete description of the place settings he would need. Surprise, surprise. I never heard back from him.

Sous chef, the amazing Ryan, and I arrived to find that he rented a cheap round card table and those mini white hard wooden chairs that nobody's butt fits in. And, he was still in the process of installing hideous giant sconces downstairs in the bar area, making his very pregnant wife carry a step stool down the stairs to him. As I said, he's a Jerk...

But. Not my problem.

China that The Jerk borrowed? Lots of non~matching bowls, coffee saucers, a few salad plates and dinner plates. All in that sickening sweet blue flower design that the grocery store sells as a "Piece of the Week" special.

Whatever. Once again, not my problem.

The Jerk had one volunteer Server instead of the two he was supposed to have. Said Server had no idea what she was supposed to do, and just wanted to stand in the kitchen and talk. Ryan, bless his patient heart, took charge of her. I would have kicked her saggy butt right out the back door.

Oh, and Server said she wasn't going to wash the dishes. Well, don't think I'm going to do them, sweetie!

Thanks to Ryan, the menu was beautiful. I was so disgusted with The Jerk that I just wanted to marinate the pork tenderloin, serve a few mashed sweet potatoes, a green salad and call it a day. Instead, Ryan talked me into this fabulous menu:

Caviar "Blini" with Dilled Egg Salad on Potato ~ Roasted purple and white fingerling potatoes stuffed with dill and Dijon egg salad, topped with creme fraiche and Tobiko caviar

Shrimp Stuffed with Panko and Parmesan ~ Two jumbo shrimp stuffed with a panko~Parmesan mixture, roasted and served on panko crusted fried green tomato slices and a large wedge of charred braised pork belly

Organic Baby Greens Salad ~ Organic baby greens tossed with shallots, sweet and spicy pecans and homemade pomegranate champagne dressing and garnished with shaved red pepper Asiago

Apple and Basil Sorbet ~ This one was all Ryan's baby and it was absolutely amazing! Homemade sorbet flavored with tart green apples and lots of fresh basil and garnished with organic rose petals

Pork 3~Ways:
Pork with Port and Cherry Glaze ~ Pork tenderloin medallions with a Port sauce and marinated cherries served on bourbon~barrel smoked cracked black peppercorn crusted goat cheese slices
Apricot and Pecan Stuffed Pork Tenderloin ~ Pork tenderloin stuffed with a mixture of apricots, pecans, garlic and thyme, served on herbed baked sourdough rounds and drizzled with red chili infused honey
Pork with Tarragon Calvados Cream Sauce ~ Mustard rubbed pork tenderloin, roasted and sliced into medallions and served on sautéed apple slices and garnished with a Tarragon Calvados Cream sauce

Herbed Orzo with Mascarpone Cheese

Roasted Zucchini and Yellow Squash Slices on Rosemary Skewers

Bread Pudding with Sautéed Peaches ~ Bread pudding stuffed with lots of sautéed peaches and tossed in an egg and cream mixture flavored with star anise, cardamon and vanilla sugar

No, Ryan and I did not do the dishes. We scraped, rinsed and left them in the sink. I'm guessing Mrs. Jerk probably got stuck washing them... Once again, not my problem.

Moral of this very long, two part blog: Money Does Not Equal Class.

Never has.

Never will.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chef Debbie Says: Money ≠ Class ~ Part I

September is finally over. Thank Bacchus!

I had an event booked every weekend, with a couple of weekends double or triple booked. And, every single one of them was fun, full of great people and something I'd definitely do again.

Except one.

Last weekend was my annual charity event where local chefs are given the same ingredients (this year: pork tenderloin, jumbo shrimp, salad greens), assigned a host home and asked to cook for 16~30 people.

I've done this event for the last three years and it's always been a joy to work with the host home, the guests were gracious and the evening a delight.

Until. This. Year.

This year's host (forevermore, now called The Jerk) was rude, condescending and so full of himself that I hated every minute of the time I spent planning, prepping and cooking. I knew I was in trouble when I met The Mother {insert scary witch laugh here} at the Chef~Host Meet & Greet.

Here's how the conversation went:

The Mother: You're soooo fortunate to be assigned to my son's beautiful home. He's an important builder and he's just too important, too busy and too wonderful to waste his time bothering with this blah, blah, blah...

Me: Oh, freaking crap!

The Mother: Continuation of blah, blah, blah, my important son, blah, blah, blah... Oh, and the chefs we've worked with in the past have brought the china, silverware, linens, glassware, servers and extra tables and chairs so I expect you'll be doing the same...

Me: No, actually, the host home is responsible for all of that. I just show up with the food, my sous chef and prepare an amazing meal.

The Mother: Well {with a flick of her lacquered, platinum helmet head}, in the past we've worked with restaurant chefs and they've brought everything. We don't have enough settings so I expect you'll have to bring it.

Me: Gee, let me think... No, sorry. In the past, I've worked in homes where they've entertained on a regular basis and they have always had enough of everything, including space for the guests.

Oh, and by the way, if you weren't such a Mother I'd be happy to bring everything since I have more than enough.

Needless to say, The Mother was not happy with me. Unfortunately, that was the easiest and most polite conversation that I had with anyone in the family.

After sending numerous e~mails to The Jerk without response, I picked up the telephone.

The Jerk: Yeah, I got your e~mails but I'm just too busy and too important to respond. I'm an important builder, you know... blah, blah, blah...

Me: Oh, freaking crap!

The Jerk: And since I'm an important builder, the only time I can meet you is...

So, I clear time out of my day to fit into his schedule. And he cancels the appointment about an hour before we're due to meet. The Jerk then made another appointment although how he can find time in his important builder life is beyond me!

We're scheduled to meet in the middle of the day ~ his choice of day and time.

So I arrive. On time. And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

The Jerk shows up a full 30 minutes late and this is what he said (and I'm not ad libbing on this one, this is what he really said): I'm a builder. I didn't call you because my time is more valuable than yours!

And, as you can guess, by now I'm seriously POd. And, not polite about it: You and your time are no more important than mine. I had to leave a client's home in the middle of the day to fit into your schedule and you are so rude you can't even call to tell me you're going to be late!

By now, our relationship is in the toilet....