Monday, February 16, 2009

Cater me this....

Knowing that I'm going to a catered function almost always makes me contemplate eating beforehand. Not that caterers are bad cooks; it just seems like people always request to have food that doesn't lend itself well to mass production and holding. Think of your standard surf and turf. A steak that is grilled to a decent temperature is then held for at least 30 minutes in a steamer. No matter what...the meat will over-rest and the temperature will most likely rise. Ditto with the surf portion. A perfectly cooked lobster tail put into the same steamer for 30 minutes doesn't stand a chance. In fact, any chef knows that steam actually causes the lobster meat to constrict and toughen to a leather-like consistency. Doesn't that sound appealing? Didn't think so.

Think of the challenge caterers encounter at every event: use high end products, simple cooking techniques, and at least a 30 minute hold in a warmer to produce something worthy of the $100+ price tag that the host is paying -- oh and one last it 100 - 200 dishes at a time. Sounds like a challenge from the Top Chef line-up doesn't it!

Every now and then though, a dish is created in these instances that is just brilliant. Take for example the one featured in this post's headline picture produced by Max Ultimate Food of Boston, MA. The dish is simple: Pan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass with Glazed Baby Root Vegetables and Meyer Lemon Sauce. All of the elements here work because the person who created the menu thought through the production and execution of the dish. I'm sure it went something like this: a fatty fish will be able to hold up in a warming box better than a lean and flakey one...Sea Bass is that lucious fish...root veggies won't fall apart after being heated, then cooled, then heated again.....and a meyer lemon butter sauce will be able to be made and held at about 140 without losing it's character and freshness. Brilliant.

Now if only crudite could be outlawed!

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