Chef Richard and Chef Katie

Harvard Holiday Dinner

In Catering on December 13, 2011 at 2:49 pm

It’s always amazes me to stop and think about how much work actually goes into pulling off a three course dinner for 60 people. Never mind the menu planning and list making, it takes about a full day of grocery shopping, usually consisting of visits to anywhere from 4 to 6 different grocery stores. The grocery shopping to me has always been the trickiest part – considering quantities, lugging mass amounts of supplies back and forth and ensuring that all of the ingredients maintain their freshness.

Richard butchering 50 lbs of Short Ribs

This past Saturday we catered a holiday dinner for the Phoenix Club at Harvard. My favorite part of catering such a large scale dinner is the actual day of cooking. There’s something so exhilarating about standing in the kitchen with a room full of raw ingredients and the responsibility felt for making it all come together harmoniously over a couple hours’ time.

My butternut squash station

We got to the kitchens at Harvard early to give ourselves plenty of time to allow for everything to properly come together. Richard got to work butchering 50 lbs of short ribs and I started dicing up the miropoix (the classic combination of onions, carrots and celery) along with a bunch of butternut squash for the soup we were making. Our intern, Jordan, had the pleasure of peeling and dicing 10 lbs of potatoes for the buttermilk-potato puree.

The meat's ready for the oven

A couple hours later, the aroma of short ribs braising away in a richly aromatic homemade stock became a tease, while the soup gently simmered on the stove and the potatoes were pureed with buttermilk to create a velvety base for the tender meat. An eggnog and fresh cranberry bread pudding was next to create and it wasn’t long before the sweet and spicy scent was spilling out of the kitchen.

Soup and Sauce simmering away

Finally, after 7 hours of cooking, the plating began. The butternut squash bisque with cripsy bacon, cinnamon creme fraiche and candied pumpkin seeds were first to go out followed by a hearty plate of chili-rubbed braised short ribs served on a bed of creamy buttermilk potato puree. For dessert, we served our eggnog-cranberry bread pudding warm and topped with candied fresh cranberries.

The finished product - Butternut Squash Soup

And just like that, it was over. We were humbled by the feedback we received and were so grateful to our three servers, Katie, Cameron and Colleen, who worked quickly to bring all of the food out to the masses, without them, we couldn’t have done it.

Cranberry Bread Pudding with Sugared Cranberries on top

  1. […] we could, how the weekend would go. Friday morning we began prepping for another one of our big Harvard dinner parties. On the menu: Mixed greens with Gorganzola crostini, apple matchsticks and a bacon vinaigrette, […]

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