Every so often we will have a big function at the hotel where the outlet chefs, banquet chefs, exec chef, and exec sous chefs get together and knock out a collaborative menu. Our exec chef usually comes up with the theme and we all brainstorm ideas. We used the same theme for our James Beard dinner which was color. The idea is that all the components of the plate, if it is the green course, are green in color or green may be in the name, or at some stage in the life of the product it is green, this could also refer to sustainable. It's a broad spectrum and to make it work you have to bend the rules a bit. Keep in mind this was a fall\winter menu otherwise the components would have been a little different if we were serving it today for a spring menu. Here in the green course we came up with we made a picholine olive fluid gel, Sicilian pistachio powder, quince cylinder wrapped in broccoli stem, and some mini cukes from chef's garden.
To finish the dish we had two table side touches, we added pear infused green tea bubbles using the powdered egg white, xanthan, and fish pump method. Then, not shown here, the servers poured a warm fennel and apple soup over the components. The soup was a sweet, spicy green apple puree made with a little jalapeno and then blended in a super green a fennel top puree just before it went out.
The grey course was oyster, sel gris, and grey goose. The base of the glass has a grey goose gel, we used malpeque oysters from PEI, and then made a sel gris soda in the soda siphon.
The idea behind it is to bring all the chefs from the property together, we write down all the colors that are possibilities, then think of all the components for each course that apply to those colors. We divide up the courses and then usually serve everything out of our banquet kitchen or we do a "chef's table" set up and build mobile kitchens and make everything in front of the guests. We usually won't do something like this for less than 100 people. Here is picture of some of the banquet room set ups that we sometimes do for events like this. We will also do an outside version by the pool with a mobile kitchen set up.
Where all the heat lamps are is where we line up and plate everything in front of the guests and the servers pick up right from the line and serve. All the chefs are mic'd up so the guests can hear everything we say to add to the effect. For the most part we watch what we say but it's more of a show when we let loose and the guests get to see how it really is in the kitchen. Of course we will feel out the clients before hand to determine which way we are going to go so we do not offend anyone.
This set up by the pool had an organic theme.
The menus were printed on the sunflower boxes.
It's good to work for a monster hotel. I'm the last person who wants to conform to "corporate status" but if you want to do events like these in Orlando you have to play ball, accept the politics, pick your battles, and compromise. I came from independent restaurants and it has been a challenge to change the way I look at things in a hotel setting but ultimately for us to continue what we do, we have to do it. I'm just here to make good food and run a business.
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