Location, location, location

In my line of work it is always interesting to see what new and interesting situations I am faced with when I arrive at the clients location. Over the years I think I have seen pretty much every type of set-up imaginable and still been asked to provide meals.

When I started out in catering it was easy as I was working for others and usually under supervision so I just went with whatever I was told to do. Later on I started working in the film industry in Cape Town and that’s where it started getting interesting.

My first few jobs were easy enough. The commercials were being shot in studios and it was just a question of me getting there and setting up the food. That soon changed when I got sent out to location shoots. Weather is of course always a factor, but when you get winds blowing like they sometimes do in Cape Town, it can be a challenge just keeping the food on the table, never mind having all of nature blowing over the buffet. When the location manager informs you the 60 crew members would like lunch on the beach, you really start to reconsider career moves. 120 steps down and an hour later back up again is never fun.

There are of course always some spectacular locations that have their own challenges but the surroundings you find yourself in more than make up for the hardship. The picture attached to this blog was one such event where we spent a month in the Namibian desert for a Hayward’s Grand Safaris product launch, sleeping and working in tents. Even during a sandstorm work would continue. But the views and experience were unbelievable and still count as some of the best catering days in 30 years.

Now that I am in Finland, the challenges are different but they are still out there. From cooking a 4-course dinner on a sailboat while there is a bit of a storm blowing to providing 10-course tasting menus in an art gallery with no kitchen.

This has now become part of the job that I really enjoy. Accepting challenges from my customers and making the impossible a great experience after all. So far I have met any challenge so let see what the future will throw at me

I AM NOT IN SOUTH AFRICA ANYMORE

Moving from one country to another always brings with it an introduction to new cultures and a different way of approaching life. Almost 10 years ago I moved to Finland and I was of course ready to expect that some, if not many, things would work differently over here. So far I have not been disappointed.

The whole sauna culture for me was something very new. My in-laws introduced me to the whole sauna experience but it was not to be for me as I get a headache from them – and not only because of the beer. It is however a major pastime in Finland and so inevitably I do get asked to provide catering at sauna parties. These are usually very relaxed parties where everyone is in a good mood since they have had the chance to get a good sauna in as well as a few refreshments.

Sometimes however these parties are not quite what I expected, especially having lived in quite a conservative country such as South Africa. Mind you, Finland is also quite conservative in many respects, but once you hit the sauna all that goes out the window.

My first experience with a guys-only sauna party and dinner was in a small seaside sauna venue in the town of Naantali. I arrived at the venue only to find a dozen naked guys wandering around the place, chatting and having beers. This is not the usual reception I have when going to do dinners where people are often nervous about having a stranger in their home and taking over. When you have the sauna, this nervousness and shyness completely disappears apparently. I must admit I was taken aback with this new situation for a short while but then I got on with cooking dinner and everyone eventually got dressed as well.

Now this situation has become almost normal for me as well and I now regularly find myself in sauna venues, offices and private homes being confronted by naked men drinking beer before normality sets in and dinner can continue

My menu on this occasion:

Biltong pate on herbed toasts

Poached prawns and avocado with a homemade cocktail sauce

Butternut and orange soup with a parmesan cheese straw

Ethiopean chicken Doro Wat with boiled egg and Injeera bread

Pepper, paprika and tarragon dusted fillet of beef on roast vegetables with a red wine, chili and chocolate jus

Moroccan citrus salad marinated in honey, mint and pistachios

DROP OFF BUFFET

Pide topped with spinach, pomegranite and goat’s cheese (L)

Toasted pita breads with smoked aubergine pate (L)

Baklali Enginar artichokes topped with broad beans and parsley. Drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil (L;G)

Lettuce, tomato and cucumber topped with beef köfte (L;G)

Mini sweet potato salads

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Chicken skewers served with a smoked garlic mayonnaise (L;G)

Kuzu Tandir slow roast lamb with fennel, cinnamon and citrus served with new potatoes and topped with yoghurt (L;G)

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Raspberry and rose trifles (L;G)

Baklava (L)

6 RUOKALAJIN ILLALLINEN

ON ARRIVAL

Beef samoosas with a chutney dip

Kilpatrick oysters with bacon, Worcesteshire sauce and balsamic vinegar

STARTER – EUROPE

Marinated moose terrine served with toasted crouton, lettuce and a lingonberry jam

FISH – ASIA

Tiger prawn and vegetable tempura served with a tomato and chilli jam

SOUP – NEW ZEALAND

Tomato bacon soup topped with thyme, parsley and fresh (parmesan)

MAIN COURSE – SOUTH AMERICA

Fillet of lamb with a pomegranate sauce. Served with cassava chips and a chimmichurri mayonnaise

DESSERT – NORTH AMERICA

Mississippi mud pie set on a raspberry coulis with fresh berries and meringue

BURGER BUFFET

Tomato, mozzarella and basil pesto salad (G)

Asparagus and parma ham salad with a herbed dressing (L;G)

Green salad with pomegranite seeds and a herbed dressing (L;G)

BURGER BAR

Homemade beef (and some vegetable) burgers served with:

Burger buns

Lettuce

Sliced cheese

Sliced tomato

Gherkins

Jalapeno salsa

Sauteed mushrooms and onion

Blue cheese crème fraiche BBQ sauce and ketchup Dark List Acce

CLIENT MEETING

Beef tartar on bruschetta with capers, red onion, pepper, parsley and egg yolk (L)

Salmon sashimi with a wasabi and ginger cream (L;G)

Prawn crackers with a shrimp pate (L;G)

Mini tabbouleh salads topped with yoghurt, honey and cashew nuts (L;G)

Cape Malay pickled fish on rocket (L;G)

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Chicken skewers with a peanut, coconut and soya dip (L;G)

Lamb breyani with a cucumber, onion and carrot relish (L;G)

Vegetable springrolls with a tomato and chilli jam (L)

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Rhubarb pannacotta (L;G)

HOUSEWARMING

Poached tiger prawns with a sweet chilli dip (M;G)

Coconut and lime rice cakes topped with seared tuna and a soya glaze (M;G)

Beef carpaccio on bruschetta topped with mushroom, basil, black pepper, olive oil and parmesan cheese (G)

Tortilla chips with a roast red pepper mayonnaise (M;G)

Salmon sashimi (M;G)

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Chicken skewers with a spicy peanut sauce (M;G)

Mini spoons offering reindeer wrapped in bacon on sweet potato with a berry compote (M;G)

Cocktail cups offering steamed rice topped with

Beef curry, cucumber and carrot salsa (M;G)

Vegetable spring rolls with sweet soya sauce (M)

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Parisien fruit with a minted honey dip (M;G) e