Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Redhook Ale Sausage Fest 2010

You may have noticed I missed posting last week. Between running around getting everything ready for Sausage Fest, starting a new co-op pre-school, which had some 3-hour thing I needed to do almost every day, and attending a 4-hour writing workshop (yay!), I never caught my breath.

Then the weekend hit. Besides preparing "bites" for 2000 at an outdoor beer, meat, and music festival on the Redhook Ale Brewery grounds, we also had a wedding for over 200 the next day, another catering, and a ton of large pick up orders for the big football weekend.

Poor Eric. Friday night I saw him between the hours of 2:45 am 5:45am, the time he went to bed, and the time he got up to go back to work. I know of no other person than my husband that can time hundreds of pounds of meat for multiple functions with a demeanor so calm, he makes others nervous. You see, he is most comfortable in the eye of chaos. Give him a 12-item menu for a complicated wedding, and he's fine. Throw in a hail storm and 30 mph winds and he's downright chipper.

For Sausagefest we decided to make pulled pork sliders, chopped jerk beef sliders, and MOINK balls (Me: What do think of this menu, honey? Him: Whatever. You're going to do it no matter what I say). The festival expected 2000 guests minimum, so each of the 11 vendors were instructed to provide 2000 tastes of each item.

I do a lot of catering math, so I knew that it wasn't possible for one person to eat one of each menu item from 11 vendors. Most vendors served 3 items, so 33 times 2-4 oz of meat per person would be about 6 pounds of meat per person.

Still, I knew the MOINK balls, a steal at only a buck each, were going to fly out the tent. We soon learned just how much labor it takes to make 2000 bacon-wrapped meatballs. I'm glad we did, because we sold at least 1500 of them in about 6 hours.

I was on the ball station for a long stretch. It was relentless. All day I heard, "Double ball! Combo with a ball! Pork slider with a ball! Nine meatballs!" I kept trying to find a bottle of water, but the ball orders wouldn't stop. We traded food with the great folks at Salumi, and I only had time to eat one delicious slice of cured pork. I don't know what happened to the other plates they sent over, but hope someone on our staff was able to eat it.

Molly Moon's Ice cream was right next door. I'd had visions of trading tastes with them throughout the day. We both had lines 30 people deep that didn't let up for 4 hours or more. At one point I couldn't hear the orders anymore. I'd repeat it, then the order would float away from my brain.

That's when I begged some icecream from the two people scooping like machines in their spiffy ice cream truck. We traded protein for dairy and that little bit of maple-bacon ice cream I savored in a 2-minute break, saved me. Yep, I can say I've been saved by Molly Moon's ice cream, gosh bless 'em.

It was intense, a blast, and I saw a number of friends there. I didn't get to roam, like I'd hoped, but as you can see, we took our new smoker on her maiden voyage, and she smoked like a champ. I'm already booking caterings with her, so she's off and running.

Pre-school is settling down, as is the summer, so I hope to post more frequently. Fall is my favorite season. Creative juices flow more readily, and the rainy months in our little corner of the country beg for blog posts about stews, smoked turkey, and squash on the grill.

It's also time to take a long, deep breath. Did you breath deeply just now? Good. So did I.


  1. How cool was that chaos, lol, glad you survived! I was hired once for a sit down dinner of 700 people for a charity event- gosh was I down for the whole next day, but I cannot imagine so much in days of each other! As a boutique caterer, I decided it was small events or none after years of your hard work...love the Moink balls!

  2. Thanks, E. It was a lot of work, but fun. I still like catering better because, for the most part, you know what you are getting into ahead of time. 700 for a sit-down is huge. Sausage fest only had three-items, ala carte, no fuss. Oh, now, see you got me talking shop...

  3. Julie, I honestly don't know how you can keep on top of all that - it makes me exhausted just to think about it!