Tuesday, May 22, 2007

So I have my first big paying job. I use the term big paying with bit of sarcasm, but that explanation comes later.

I was told to arrive on the scene at 8am. This required that I get up at 6am, get ready and be on the road by 7am. The instructions I was given for the event was I was not to help set up the event, since no one else could do my job and if I got behind the burden would be on me. Ok fine..I'm happy not having to unpack a truck. The only thing I was to do was set up my BBQ station. This is a big company that has contracted me out, that does big events. This is one of their smaller ones, 150 people. So I arrive at 8am just as they are opening the big truck and removing 'easy ups', ice chests, bounce houses...you name it. Here comes the grill. It's a classic bricket burning unit about 4.5 feet long and 1.5 feet wide. Ok, I'm thinking this perfect as I am very familiar with bricket cooking.

I was to have 2 tables for set up and since this was my first time they got all the table cloths out for me etc.

The menu is pretty simple - grilled tequila lime chicken, mahi mahi and hot dogs for the kids. Let's talk about the meats for just a moment. I am told that the chicken is marinating in bags in the ice chests. The fish is in another ice chest and the hots in yet another. Ok so far so good..happy with the sanitation there. So I open ice chest 1 of 3 on the chicken and sure enough each bag has about 2 whole chickens that have been cut up and in the marinade. Let's check the fish, open ice chest 1 of 3 and find that the fish is in the manufacture bags. You know the ones I'm talking about the ones you get at Costco or Smart and Final? The each have about 8 pieces of fish. The problem is they are all still frozen solid. Not marinating! So I am given 2 dish tubs (I pray they are clean) to place the fish in and pour the marinade over them. Let's hope they thaw. The morning is very cool. Let's check the hot dogs shall we? Yep 1 ice chest with 3 boxes of Hoffy Hot Dogs. Big thick hot dogs....frozen. At this point I'm seeing tragedy. Ok let's get that grill going asap. They bring out my bags of Mesquite and my bag of apple wood, as they said chips, for the smoking flavor. They give me a bucket to soak said chips. A metal bucket like you use to bob for apples. Ok...where to get water....oh there's a hose WAY over there. Bless my husband! He worked all night and still came with me to help. He's off to get the water..I open the bag of mesquite and get that into the grill and FIRE IN THE HOLE!

Hey they just took one of my tables. So I am now down to 1 table. Which has a steam box, 2 tubs of frozen fish, my water and marinades.

For those that don't know, mesquite pops and crackles a lot! My grill is under a giant acorn tree. Hubby is back with the water and I get the wood chips bag open. Oh my god!! These are not wood chips they are wood logs!!! I'm not kidding they are whole logs! About 6" in diameter and 1 1/2 feet long. I have 30 minutes to get them soaked??? I toss them into the bucket...like it's even going to help.

BBQ is hot and it's now 10:30am. Food service is at noon so I'm right on time. I want to get the chicken started since it's whole pieces with bone in and will take a while. Might as well get one of those "wood chips" in here.

I ask for sanitation gloves, soap and water. I mean come on I'm working with fish, chicken and beef here. They look at me like I grew a third eyeball. I explain I would not compromise on sanitation and if they could not provide what I needed then I could not cook up the food. Next thing I know I have a water bottle (5 gallon) next to me, several sets of tongs and a box of gloves and a container of that soap you can use that doesn't have to be rinsed off. Ok..that'll do. I open the first bag of chicken and realize that these were not cleaned prior to going into the marinade. There are feathers, and blood clots still attached and all the fat. (yep makes me nauseous too) I do some quick tidy up on the meat cuts and move on. The fire is so hot because those damn logs burn that way. They give me an Ortho Sprayer to keep the fire down. This is gonna be fun.

11am the first batch of chicken is coming off the grill. Fish is still in the tub frozen solid but covered in the marinade. Can't figure out what good that's doing...and then I get the announcement from one of the staff "Um..I guess there was a miscommunication..food service is starting at 11 instead of noon so if there's anything you can do to hurry it up...?" I literally just looked at her and blinked. No there is nothing I can do. I mean I guess I could go over and ask the fish to thaw faster and ask the chicken to clean itself. I just said "I'll see what I can do" and meandered back to the grill.

Oh the hot dogs were so much fun to cook on the grill. As you will see in the photo's the grill was so warped. Hot dogs love to roll.

So at the end of the my part, cook the meat. I clean the grill and it's cleaner that what I recieved it in I might add, and go to the person in charge and say 'well all clean. We're taking off now.' She asks "Did you take the cinders out?" Um..and put them where? "In the tub with the wood chips." You mean the wood logs..and no I did not. So are you ready for this...I take the logs out, leaving the water in there since these things need to be snuffed out. She tells me to dump the water out. Ok...water and with a shovel I take the hot ash and cinders and put them in a bucket. She looks at it and then looks around and see the big water bottle on the table I was using. And fills a pan with it and pours it over the hot coals. So why did she ask me to dump the water out I have no clue.

Ok coals are out and time for me to go home. I have 1 hour to get home to see my daughter off to prom. Then I have to get cleaned for a dinner party.

Hubby and I head to the car. I look down and see that my chef coat has a big burned hole in it. So does my under shirt. My husbands sweat shirt also have a hole burned through the sleeve.

So between the gas, extra time they required I be there while they set up and I sat by, a ruined chef coat a ruined sweatshirt, I figure this job ended up costing me more to work it.

I will end with a positive note. It was great experience. I know that if I had to, I could easily pull off a BBQ for 150 including all the side dishes.

Are you kidding me with this?

Making due with what I have.
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