Monday, July 20, 2009

What I did for my summer holdays...

At the bistro, we go hard.  Lots of meals, long days, late nights.  Sometimes we need to take a break. This year, for our summer holiday, we decided to run the backstage kitchen at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. I guess, as they say, a change is as good as a rest.

At the folk festival we feed the performers, volunteers, staff and guests of the folk festival. Conservative calculations say we feed 4500 people, three meals a day for 5 days.  That's a lot of granola. 

500 kg bison short ribs
750 Litres milk
10775 ml garlic
216 Litres canola oil
1600 lbs peppers
and a palette full of kidney beans

We fill 3 fifty foot reefers with food. We have 220 volunteers cooking like mad. we serve lamb tagine with couscous, green curry tofu, chicken and salsa verde tacos.  3 meals a day for 5 days, with a continuous flow of snacks.  All of this is done under a tent in a field in a park.  we cook on rented griddles, 17 BBQ's, and in giant, Hutterite built ovens we call out "hot-hot-hots" and our "uber-hots". (If anyone knows a good patent agent, give me a call cause I designed these ovens). All day, from 9 am til 1 am, there is a line up in the kitchen, people looking for food.

this is what we normally do, and you would think that was enough. But no, I need to heap more onto the pile. This year, we added on drink pairings with each meal, fresh popped popcorn, and a guerilla kitchen that would pop up unexpectedly serving hot snacks such as huevos rancheros and caesar mussels to hungry volunteers.

To top it off, I got to go on mainstage. I did a cooking demo between the Punch Brothers and King Sunny Ade.  I taught 16000 people how to make a campfire pizza.  We had a pizza crust tossed back through the audience. Apparently some kid got pizza dough slapped in his face. (if you are out there, sorry.)

One of my highlights was having Vance Gilbert in my kitchen. He is a big folk fest favourite, a performer from Boston. He scrambled eggs and griddled potatoes for hours. Yelling at my crew for more potatoes, calling us a bunch of "melon-farmers". we had a riot!  He even went to his daytime workshop with his dirty kitchen apron, running late because he "just came from his shift in the kitchen".

Why do we do it?  Why not spend the week at the beach? I love the people i work with there. I love the people I cook for. I love making that many people feel happy and cared for.  I love the community we build each year. But mostly, I love the terrified excitement I get from feeding that many people. I love the adrenaline rush!

see you at the fest next year!

1 comment:

  1. Well, the food at the folkfest was some of the best I have had. It was well made and fresh. To be honest this is our first year volunteering and we will probably continue to volunteer just bc the food you make is so good. I miss it, and am planning to have dinner at 7 1/4 soon. Thank you for keeping us hungry for more at the folk....