A couple weeks ago we headed down to Joplin for a family weekend hosted by our church’s Joplin congregation. There was a whole series of events, one of which was an International Dinner.
You got to choose which country you wanted to represent, and then you were expected to bring 250 sample-size portions of your meals. My friend Amanda signed us up for India, and I volunteered to make the curry and naan.
The week preceding the dinner arrived. Chaos ensued.
Monday I cooked 12 cups of Missouri rice (36 cups cooked). I had to cook it in my two biggest pots because I didn’t have a pot big enough for all of it.
Tuesday I had beekeeping class (and managed to not drive in the ditch).
Wednesday I prepped the vegetables for four batches of my adapted version of South Indian-Style Vegetable Curry (sans stock and chickpeas). This stuff is amazing. I gave myself a serious knife blister from all of the chopping. And I tried and failed miserably at making Pioneer Woman’s Brandy Snaps for an unrelated event at work. The next day I bought an ice cream cake instead.
Thursday I cooked the curry sauce for the four batches of curry, and cooked up 387 sample-size portions of naan. After I got into the rhythm of prepping them, I was cooking 60 at a time. (I love you, Silpats.) Can you see how ridiculous this is getting?
Friday I had an event for work in Kansas City, so rather than driving halfway to Joplin, driving home, and then driving back to Joplin, we decided to go straight from Kansas City. Which meant that we had to put everything on ice so it would last the whole day. Oh, and it also meant that Charlie had to work remotely from a truck stop.
Thursday night, after the 387 portions of naan and two emergency trips to the store for extremely large storage containers, we got things packed up and ready to put in the coolers, boxes and totes to strap down in the back of the truck on Friday morning.
After our day in KC and travelling down to Joplin, we arrived and found ourselves in the situation of having no place to store the food overnight. The cooler was doing remarkably well at keeping things cold, so we filled ‘er up with more ice and babysat the cooler for another day until the meal Saturday night.
Can you feel my anxiety level increasing?
Saturday afternoon I found a nice quiet storage area at the church and set up a table with my cutting board, foods, tools and four crockpots. Four. I borrowed two, used mine and we bought another. We had to use a powerstrip.
I ended up making friends with another member who was also prepping food, and who just happened to own 13 restaurants. I had unknowingly parked myself right next to a commercial scale slow-cooker oven (the name is escaping me now), which he taught me to use and was perfect for heating up the rice.
I served the curry in these very stylish tulip baking cups. They held together and made a statement until the paper warmed up, at which point they mostly lost their shape.
And there were costumes.
I got good feedback on the curry, including from one guy whom if I remember correctly said he’d never had curry before, and ended up coming back for thirds.
Having never worked in food service or cooked on a commercial scale, it was a learning experience to be sure. And because there was so much food all around, we came home with about a third of what we cooked. Now we know.