17 Jul Behind the Culinary Curtain
What we strive to create at every wedding is a synesthetic fairy tale that transports guests to a place that feels “out of time,” but is somehow, paradoxically, firmly planted in the “now.”
Life’s An Existential Banquet
The other evening, I was rewatching the great Rosalind Russell in the classic 1958 version of Auntie Mame (I’m mildly obsessed with the film). Her oft-repeated motto in the film is “life’s a banquet, and some poor bastards are starving to death.” That’s a doozy of a line! In fact, it’s one of the best I’ve heard, and somehow evocative of Shakespeare’s famous passage: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
From Cavemen to Louis the 14th
Indeed, theatrics and food seem to have always gone hand in hand. From early-man telling stories around a freshly hunted, fire-roasted animal, to the ornate and elaborate dinners at the court of Louis the 14th, to modern-day restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, or El Celler de Can Roca, spectacle has been a central element to the dining experience.
Staging the Fantasy
Having catered countless events over the years, what we know for sure is that pulling off a wedding is tantamount to staging a Broadway show–just slightly more complicated! It’s a production, and like any show, it’s only successful if the audience accepts the fantasy and is willing to suspend reality.
If a character forgets a line or a piece of the set is knocked over, we are suddenly thrust out of the play-world and into the real one.
Just like actors, caterers are only successful if they maintain the fantasy–the illusion that the food magically appears perfectly prepared and on time. What guests don’t see (and shouldn’t) is the “organized chaos” that occurs behind the culinary curtain.
What we strive to create at every wedding we cater is a synesthetic fairy tale that transports guests to a place that feels “out of time,” but is somehow, paradoxically, firmly planted in the “now.” Creating this bit of theatrical enchantment, however, requires skilled producers, directors, and actors.
Breaking the Fourth Wall
Executive Chef, Mathew, directs the show from backstage, making sure that everyone knows when to enter or exit stage right or left. He has an innate sense of timing, which is so important to our culinary sleight of hand. The dishes must be aesthetically and gastronomically perfect when they reach the guests–anything less would be the culinary equivalent of breaking the fourth wall. The cardinal sin of caterers and actors alike!
The Wizard of Oz
Our head honcho, Donna, is also on hand, making sure that everything is running smoothly and that no detail, no matter how small, is overlooked. She understands that any glimpse behind the veil will ruin the fantasy for the wedding party. Tantamount to the Wizard of Oz, we want you to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” and enjoy the Emerald City unencumbered by reality.
Streisand, Burton and Uncle Stanley
Like all Broadway greats, they make it all look so effortless and easy! What we don’t see are the hours and hours of blood, sweat, and tears that go into their flawless performances. It’s not luck–it’s preparation meeting opportunity–something we deeply understand, as preparation is key to every successful event we have ever catered.
However, in catering, just as in theater, there is always the element of surprise. From the speech from Uncle Stanley that goes on waaaaayyyy too long, to the best man’s drunken entreaty of love to everyone at the head table, we’re always standing by expecting the unexpected.
The Food of Life
Auntie Mame understood that life is indeed a banquet, and our job is to make sure that no one starves at one! Perhaps the Bard said it best: “If music be the food of love, play on.”