The cooking gig is going well. The kitchen is small, more like a church kitchen. There’s a 6- burner pro Southend with 2 ovens and a griddle, plus a professional freezer and refrigerator. No warming oven though, which makes it tough to feed more than 100 people. The way they do it here is to serve everyone at once. So, if dinner is scheduled to start at 6, then everybody is there at the same time and need to be served in 15-20 minutes. Needless to say, it gets intense and invigorating. They are talking about doubling the size of the kitchen this summer and getting the warming oven, so next year could be sweet (if I stay).

My first big dinner was Valentine’s Day- sheesh, no pressure, right? I served Lemon Garlic Chicken for 140 people. Most loved it and they were happy to have someone who wants to cook from scratch. The previous cook worked with a lot of frozen crap. But, hey, when you’re serving the same menu to everyone, there are going to be some that don’t like the menu. It’s not really a restaurant but more like a buffet or a wedding.

I made one change that everyone liked. Previously, everyone got in line to get their food from the pass. For this event, they were going to have a couple of tables at a time go up. But who wants to wait in line, especially on St. Valentines? This ain’t some fast food joint. So, seeing that we had four people to help set up the front of the house, I turned them into waiters. Each one took two plates t o a table, that way all eight at each table got served together without having to get it themselves. By the time the ‘waiters’ returned to the pass, the next eight were plated and ready to go.

That was my only important dinner. Each Tuesday, there is a burger lunch for 100-150 and a breakfast on Saturdays for the same amount. Those are way simple, though. The we had St. Patrick’s, but that was just finger food. I went with chicken wings with their choice of various sauces. I even made an authentic Buffalo sauce. Everyone thinks that means super hot, so they were pleasantly surprised at the Franks and butter sauce ( I made it what would be considered mild to medium for Buffalonians). I am doing my part to expand the culinary education of others!

We had 400 for the end of season party but, again ,they just wanted finger food, since the room only holds about 220. and the crowd would be spilling outside. The activities director had planned sloppy joe’s but I went with chicken tenders and made four sauces, letting them choose any two.


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