Monday, September 10, 2007

Catering Confidential

WOW! This weekend wasn't even a weekend. A couple of months ago, I was asked to drive the van for a catering event (through the restaurant that does the weddings and parties at Sherman Gardens) at Saddlerock Ranch Winery off of Mulholland Drive in Malibu, CA. Now, I'm not sure if ya'll have ever read any of my other posts about the catering events that I have worked, but the restaurant itself is in Newport Beach, California. Let's look at the map. Riverside to Newport Beach (near John Wayne Airport) to Malibu. (see photo below.........not that close to home...about 40 miles)

Now.....let's move along from Newport to Malibu. (see below photo)

I am beginning to think I'm not so smart for agreeing to this driving the van thing until I get an emailing me the schedule. As you will see this was a HUGE event and it went late. This was where I was back to being smart. I, with the people in my van, get to leave at 10 p.m. and the rest of the crew was leaving at 1 a.m. ("I am so smart, S-M-R-T" -Homer Simpson)

In speaking with the events coordinator (aka "my boss"), I learn that someone called in sick at the last minute. Well, it wasn't really last minute. He called on Wednesday saying he thought he was coming down with the flu. At 1 a.m. the night before the party, he sent an email saying he wasn't going to be there. (when was the last time the flu took three days to put you down? it always just jumps up and hits me like a ton of bricks. I know the guy. He didn't want to work.) This is a bad omen.
New email from events coordinator. "can you come to the restaurant by 10 a.m. on Saturday to help me get one of the vans?" there are always perks included in this business and I knew that helping out on this one would be no different. On top of knowing the E.C. pretty well (worked with her for 6 years), I knew she would take care of me for helping out. That's not why I do it, of course; but it helps. HA$! That gives me a couple of hours to kill, but during my normal job (recruiter) I had arranged a couple of interviews on my down time. Then all hades broke loose.
The restaurant owner (and chef for the evening) needed something done, but none of his kitchen monkeys were doing anything. They were all just sitting around smoking cigarettes and avoiding working at all costs. He starts complaining to EC and she starts yelling back about it not being her job and I decide I'll help loading the 30 cases of wine 6 cases of champagne and 12 cases of beer on tot the refrigerated truck. Yes, you read those numbers correctly. This was a big ass party. Next, I found out that since things had not been going so great that the owner of the restaurant would be riding with me in my van. Oh boy! I get the guy who was just bossing everyone around because things weren't going right riding shotgun. Great! Dang...couldn't he go at 3 with the late crew? He was supposed to ride with EC in her nice Lexus SUV. (I really like it.) we are, waiting for the truck to be loaded and we get all 9 of us in the van and we make it to Malibu in about an hour and a half. Not bad timing. (ADD moment: on the ride up, I got the call that Godzilla did #2 on the potty...YAY for him....he told mommy he needed to go, too. Good job, zilla)
We get there and there are Bison, Zebras, Ostrich and all sorts of cool animals on the property. It was rather breath taking. I wish I had pictures of that, but I cannot seem to locate any. The driveway is long and winding with forks all over the place. I can see how one may get lost between Mulholland HWY and the house. This is all by 2:30-ish and the whole time I'm thinking about EC and having to break the whole thing down with just 5 people, but hey...I gotta get home because like a dope I also agreed to work on Sunday night too after swearing I would never do a 7-day week.
So we're there and things are just odd. I work at Sherman Gardens most of the time and don't have to deal with all the rules the grounds security put on us and such a sprawling estate.
We had 4 wine tasting tables, New World, Old World, California and French wines, two bars, a cigar table, cheese table and a dining room to set. The wine tasting tables were with the other Maitre'd and I had 5 people to set the 185 person dining room. No problem.....two of the guys work at Sherman Gardens during the week, so they should be on top of their game, right? Three of the guys, I work with regularly at weddings so I know they'll work hard for me. The ones that work at the Gardens....slackers! One of the guys that I work with regularly throws his back out picking up his second crate of plates. (remember we were already short one person) So, we had a girl folding napkins, and one of the SG waiters starts helping her. My mistake for letting him, but he wasn't much help once I pulled him off it, so I may have left him where he was. There were 3 wine glasses per setting, a bread plate w/butter knife, three salad forks, a teaspoon, a soup spoon, and 2 table knives (185 people) I ended up using my 3.5 guys to get this done in about an hour an a half.
Then the dang wedding coordinator (not someone I've ever seen) starts re-arranging the place settings after we get the room pretty much done. "oh, we need two more over here and one more over here and blah, blah, blah!" Here's what we did before the glasses had gone down.

See, it's already getting crowded on the tables w/out the damned glasses. Here's a dark shot of the can see most of what's going on the table.

Have you ever worked somewhere like a restaurant or somewhere you wouldn't expect to see someone you know? Well one of our good friends from church IN RIVERSIDE was in Malibu and their daughters were flower girls. How crazy was that? Next thing you know here's another one that had moved to Oregon. (they were both cousins of the bride)'s where I become stupid. Every time I see the EC she's telling me how worried she is about breakdown since we're now 2 guys down and because it's breakdown it is kind of like being 4 people down because people are going to be so dang tired by the end of the wedding. After beginning to worry about it myself and feeling bad that there won't be enough people...I (cannot believe that I) said "I will stay and help. Don't worry."

What? What did I just say? No, no....take it back, bring those words back to your mouth! HOLY CRAP WHAT DID I DO? It's too late, you said it......suck it up and be a man.

We didn't get out until 2 a.m. I got to bed in Riverside (see above maps.....) around 4:30 a.m. HOLY SMOKES, I have to get up and go to the gardens by 4 p.m. and work until 9 or 10 p.m. What was I thinking? I may be the dumbest human being.

Well, last nights gig was pretty easy. It was a 78th birthday party, and the most difficult thing was making sure no one crapped their pants. Kidding. It was actually these kids who thought the were going to drink on my shift. They tried...unsuccesfully...I might add. It was a team effort.....things went well and I came home with some nice parting gifts from the entire weekend.

Thanks to Monkey, I got to stay home today......that's a story for another day. Click here to see all the photos that EC took.

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