A Chinese Feast.

Today was aaaall about prep for tonight’s big celebrity Chef dinner!  It is amazing how much time goes into getting ready for these events.  At Springer, a big part of my job was organizing special fundraising events, and taking care of all the logistics and details.  But I never had any idea how much work goes into the FOOD!  I just took for granted that it would all be there when it was supposed to – now I know why catering costs so much!

I basically spent my entire day working on a huge SPRING ROLL project.  We started by getting all of our vegetables prepped.

IMG_3360 (640x480)

Carrots were cleaned off, and then peeled into ribbons…

IMG_3362 (640x480)

IMG_3367 (640x480)

And English cucumbers were ribboned too…

IMG_3366 (640x480)

I soaked some cellophane noodles in warm water to slowly cook away their chewiness (these noodles are so cool!)…

IMG_3365 (640x480)

Poached shrimp in a court bouillon of orange juice, galangal (an Asian root similar to ginger), and minced lemongrass.

IMG_3372 (640x480)

Last but not least, we diced up the lobster meat from yesterday.

IMG_3370 (640x480)

Once the spring rolls were all mis en placed, we moved on to making Bau – Korean steamed buns that would be filled with marinated shredded pork.  These sounded and smelled amazing.  We dug deep for our Baking & Pastry knowledge of months ago, and successfully mixed the bun dough.  It took forever to proof and double!

IMG_3361 (640x480)

While my group was arms deep in Bau and Spring Rolls, other classmates were cooking cool things around the classroom.  Someone prepared these massive marinated tenderloins…

IMG_3363 (640x480)

And this beautiful mixed mushroom soup.  I reaaaaally wanted to eat this, but it was beef broth and also had added pork – there was no way around it.  Mushrooms and soup are two of my favorite things in the world, so mushroom soup is basically heaven to me!

IMG_3368 (640x480)

On the other side of the room, I found a bowl of cubed TOFU!  Pretty sure this was prepped for a pad Thai dish…

IMG_3369 (640x480)

Again, today’s class had no real menu focus since we were working so hard to get ready for the big dinner.  At the beginning of class, Chef asked if anyone was able to help stay and work the dinner tonight, and despite reaaaally wanting to just go home and relax, I knew it was an awesome opportunity I couldn’t pass up.  I volunteered to stay after with a friend, and I am SO glad I did!  This was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.

We headed into the University Events Center, and were welcomed by…

< img style="border-bottom: 0px; border-left: 0px; display: block; float: none; margin-left: auto; border-top: 0px; margin-right: auto; border-right: 0px" title="IMG_3374 (640x480)" border="0" alt="IMG_3374 (640x480)" src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_ND7jfcOt5nQ/S5gsv0s6qLI/AAAAAAAAE1M/bnAexNXE7lA/IMG_3374%20%28640x480%29_thumb%5B1%5D.jpg?imgmax=800" width="404" height="304" />

I’m actually totally bummed – I had to leave at 5pm, and word was that Chef Yan was arriving any minute, but I couldn’t wait any longer (also the reason for such a late post today!).  But I get to go to his cooking demonstration tomorrow, so I will still get some good pictures of him in action for you guys :)

When we got into the event center, we set up an assembly line to start finally putting all the spring rolls together.

IMG_3376 (640x480)

After about 5 or so of these, I really got the hang of it!  I think I am good at forming and shaping food – one of the reasons I felt so comfortable making rolls and pastries in Baking & Pastry.  What I lack in creativity and kitchen confidence, I make up for in execution!

IMG_3377 (640x480)

Spring roll papers stuffed with ribbons of cucumber and carrot, julienned bell peppers, whole Thai basil and mint leaves, and a lobster and shrimp salad mixture.  I made myself a vegetarian version – YUM!

IMG_3378 (640x480)

There were so many people working in the event center kitchen – it was chaos.

IMG_3385 (640x480)

Before I left, I got a shot of one of the appetizers – crispy wasabi wontons!

IMG_3383 (640x480)

I also popped into the main event room to show you guys how beautiful everything looked.  The organizers of this event actually flew in designers and florists from South Beach!  They constructed these bamboo tablescapes with lanterns and hundreds and hundreds of orchids.

IMG_3379 (640x480)

A gigantic Chinese gong for the occasion…

IMG_3380 (640x480)

The pictures don’t do justice for how BIG these creations were.  Back in high school I worked in a florist shop for about three years, and my mom and I designed arrangements for weddings and other special events.  I am very opinionated when it comes to flowers, but these really were breathtaking.  Do you know how expensive orchids are?  There must have been hundreds…

IMG_3381 (640x480)

IMG_3382 (640x480)

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s cooking demonstration, so that I can see Chef Yan in action!  Being in that kitchen all day left me staaaaaarving, so I’m off to make dinner.  Believe it or not, I am totally craving Chinese food.  Our classroom smelled like pure sesame oil all day, but we were so busy I barely got to eat a thing.  Time to go fix that…