Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Behind the scenes

The invitation time was 5:30 p.m., yet the call time for our staff was 7:30 a.m. It was going to be a long day of setting up for the Broward Center for Performing Arts' New York City-themed celebration. The Artisan Foods staff worked alongside audio-visual, programming and Foundation staff to perfectly set the stage for "Live from the Broward Center, it's Saturday Night", with Dennis Miller, featuring Rob Schneider, Darrell Hammond, and Jon Lovitz. And no pun intended... we were serving 350 seated guests at round tables on the Au Rene Theatre stage!

Dozens of pin spots and string lights illuminated tables in the cityscape scene, with an NYC Taxicab parked downstage at the corner of Broadway and Central Park West. Street lamps in the wings of the stage signaled the bar areas situated in between subway-tiled backdrops of notable trasit stations like Madison Square Garden and Times Square.

At the 3:30 p.m. shift meeting overlooking the Wendt Terrace where our passed hors d'oeuvres would be shortly served along with our classic hot dog cart stocked with vintage glass soda bottles, our custom catering team was provided an overview of the evening's flow. A freshly prepared shift meal (and optional ice cold Red Bull) was provided, and server attire was primped before walking through the venue's backstage to review the night ahead. Server stations were identified and table settings were perfected.

Attendees would soon arrive, and the Artisan team took to the Marti's Bistro Kitchen like a well-oiled machine of plating the variety of passed samplers for the first part of the program.

Guests arrived to a photo opportunity aside a model Statue of Liberty, and were welcomed with a rotation of our delicacies. Our lean and melty Reuben and fresh-from-the-oven potato knishes helped set the tone for the night. Representing the diverse New York food scene, international flavors like our Korean skirt steak tacos and Hearts of Palm ceviche were crowd pleasers, along with the interactively served cold-smoked Thumbelina carrots.

The theatre staff signaled for guests to enter the theatre before we knew it. Our team knew exactly where to go, and what to do to convert the scene seamlessly to the next part of the evening. Without a sound heard in front of the curtain, our team of culinarians and servers waited patiently backstage with a strategy in place. Once the four comedians finished their sets, some announcements and a welcome by Broward Center administration were our cue to (quietly and) beautifully set the first course atop each of the 350 chargers already on the tables just behind the stage's curtain.

The guests had a night full of laughs, and our showtime was still beginning. Our "Pastrami-crusted Ahi Tuna on Zak the Baker rye bread" twist on the classic sandwich would welcome the attendees to the thematic stage after a dramatic rising of the curtain.

Our culinary operations had moved from the Bistro to backstage, where work tables stacked with plates, containers of Dr. Brown's Black Cherry demi-glace, and microgreens were ready to meet the New York strip steaks, burnt broccolini and potato-leek galette in our portable ovens.

Without any reminders, our team took their places ready to take the stage. Two adjacent assembly lines worthy of any factory were formed, in a symphonic pattern with all hands on deck.
Our service team would come back to the culinary team with murmurings of "oohs and aahs" overheard tableside. Special requests were met for any dietary restrictions. The second course plates were later removed as the guests began to explore the scenery and seek out libations. Napkins were nicely refolded and water glasses were always full.

The real showstopper was the "skyline" dessert also plated in a sort of conveyor belt-like fashion by our culinary team. Black and white cookies sandwiched with ganache filling acted as centerpiece while a strikingly red candy apple's stick, New York cheesecake terrine topped with sugared raspberries, and a miniature "torch" of white chocolate mousse provided the varied elevation. Not to be outdone, some of our team were tasked with serving an encore presentation of Baked by Melissa cupcakes. A team of I Love NY t-shirt garbed servers armed with sparklers and cupcake platters descended from mid-theatre down the aisles to the stage while the deejay played 'Empire State of Mind.'

We are always producing on- and off-premise catering events, and whether there are 75 guests or 400, we always aim for the 5-star reviews. We are incredibly proud of our trained professionals, recognizing our greatest assets in this industry. Whenever we are involved in gourmet cuisine events of this scale, however, it is refreshing that the quality of special event catering service our patrons have come to expect on stage matches what we as a company can proudly boast behind the scenes as well.