Catering and Banquets: Soups and Salads
My next station in this class is the salads and soups station. The person at this station is responsible for setting up the breakfast bar, the lunch bar, and also making some special items for breakfast and lunch.
For breakfast, you have to set up some white and wheat bread, bagels, granola, fresh fruit, whole fruit, a special smoothie, yoghurt, cream cheese, peanut butter (the only kind of peanut we have in the kitchen), jelly, and some dried fruit and brown sugar for the oatmeal.
At the hot line, you can get oatmeal, pancakes or French toast, bacon, sausage, maple syrup, and of course, omelets and eggs to order.
Here’s an example of what I had for breakfast. Of course, I love bacon. Usually, I asked for maple syrup on it (awesomeness). Also, two eggs over hard, and a toasted English muffin with butter. To drink, coffee, seltzer, and whatever the special smoothie was. Yum yum yum! I don’t always go for breakfast during the semester. However, when I happen to have classes in the early morning, I do tend to make an effort to eat something, and I enjoy it. It’s nice when someone else has already cooked for you! 🙂
After breakfast, we have a short 30 minute lecture. For this class, we are – of course – talking about catering. One of the first topics of interest is the BEO, the Banquet Event Order. This is the document that lists everything the caterer needs to know about a banquet event: the type of event, how many people are coming, the person who placed the order with contact information, the menu, the style of service (plated or buffet), the location, and any other special notes and requests. Our first homework is to create such a BEO, including the menu. Here is mine.
After lecture, we go back to prepping for lunch. For the lunch service, I have to make one soup and at least one composed salad. A composed salad is not just a simple tossed salad, it is a salad that is plated in a particular way, and contains many different ingredients. It does not necessarily contain green lettuce.
Here are some composed salads: golden and red beet salad, cabbage and carrot salad, and three bean salad.
The regular salad bar contains a variety of ingredients, including a mesclun mix, spinach, carrots, chickpeas, kidney beans, tomatoes, cheese, whole fruit, and sometimes salads from the day before, or other kinds of ingredients suitable for salads.
We also have enormous containers with pumps for condiments. Yikes!
For the soup, I got all ambitious, and made ricotta gnocchi! We also had a ton of green beans, so I included those with some vegetable stock I made.
I like to make sure to serve vegetarian options whenever possible. It’s really easy to add meat to a dish to make it taste “better”. For example, using chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, or adding bacon to wilted greens. I really believe chefs need to find better ways to make vegetarian dishes tasty and appealing.
Anyway, the next day I made a chilled watermelon and basil soup. Yum! I have definitely warmed up to chilled soups, and this one was great. It had watermelon, honeydew melon (green), and basil in it.
For service, I fill some crushed ice and melon into a small bowl, then I add basil and processed watermelon. The watermelon juice also contains a ginger syrup. Since I had so much ginger syrup left over, I decided to also offer ginger snow cones! That is, I poured ginger syrup over the crushed ice.
It reminded me of the sno cones they used to sell in downtown York Beach, ME, where I grew up. They had outrageous colors, and all I ever wanted was a huge red and blue sno cone of my own!
Anyway, this was a good station. I enjoyed making gnocchi, of course, and I got a lot of compliments on the watermelon soup.