Catering

Posted on July 10, 2006 by Aun

Last Friday, my wife and I did something that was entirely new to us. It was rewarding, exciting, educational and challenging. But it’s also something I’m in no rush to do again soon. Last Friday, S and I did our very first professional catering job. While the two of us have thrown countless dinner parties over the years, cooking for friends at home is nothing compared to cooking for paying guests at their place. The latter, especially because of the professional nature of the engagement, is a whole different category of stress. Fortunately, this first gig was relatively small. The dinner, hosted by two close friends, was for just eight people. Two of the guests, however, were not only major VIPs but also very well-known as gourmands. Knowing this added a little more pressure to what was, as I mentioned, an already stressful situation.

The hosts of the dinner wanted a small, but exciting menu. We proposed having four courses, three of which would be composed of trios of dishes.

The first course was a trio of seafood. It consisted of a crabcake with wasabi-mayonnaise, a prawn cocktail with a sauce made with freshly grated horseradish, and a shitake-soy toro (fatty tuna) tartar served with a yuzu vinaigrette. I really like this combination. We had originally thought of serving a raw oyster item instead of the crabcake, but I think the crabcake worked better. Because the toro and prawn dishes are served cold, the contrast with the hot, freshly fried crabcake is really nice.

The second course was a real challenge. We had admired this dish in The French Laundry Cookbook for years. We also liked that Thomas Keller would call something as refined as butter-poached lobster served with a mascarpone and lobster broth enriched orzo “mac & cheese”. This is a gorgeous, sensuous and incredibly rich dish, thanks mostly to Keller’s broth. The broth is made by sautéing the shells of 3 lobsters. You then cover them with water and add some tomatoes, carrots, and tarragon. You simmer this until the stock is aromatic. Then you strain the liquid and reduce this down to just one cup. At this point, it’s deliciously powerful. You then add two cups of cream to the stock and reduce everything until just two cups remain. The result is the loveliest, tastiest, creamiest seafood broth I’ve ever had. In this dish, the lobster is steeped in hot water, then before service, the meat is poached in warm butter. Cooked orzo is mixed with some of the creamy lobster broth and a couple of tablespoons of mascarpone. This is a dish everyone should eat at least once.

The main course was a trio of veal dishes, inspired by a dish served at Boulevard in San Francisco amusingly called “Veal Veal Veal”. The course consisted of veal tenderloin, osso buco and a veal cheek ravioli. The veal tenderloin is wrapped in prosciutto, seared than roasted in the oven. We paired our version with some potato purée and a super-yummy sauce we made with fresh horseradish, white truffle honey and cream. We cooked the osso buco overnight in extremely low heat; it was wonderfully tender. The ravioli is stuffed with a combination of braised veal cheek and creamed spinach. Both the ravioli and the osso buco are sauced with some of the braising liquid that was reduced until syrupy. We also topped the osso buco with a little fresh gremolata.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good photograph of our dessert course. It was another trio: a blueberry cheesecake tart; an egg soufflé; and a quenelle of chocolate gelato served with some homemade croquant. Post dinner, we served a really special treat with coffee and tea. I convinced the amazing J of Kuidaore to sell me two batches of custom-made macarons. I ordered a batch of peanut butter & jelly and a batch of chocolate & yuzu. These were pretty stunning and everyone was pretty amazed that we could get such high-quality macarons in Singapore.

In addition to taking care of the menu, we also planned the wines. We ordered some excellent wines from a local distributor that we’d gotten to know recently. With the first course, we served a Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus, an excellent single vineyard Champagne. Our second course was paired with an amazing white wine I’ve become quite enamored with of late, a Mark Angeli La Lune 2003. With the veal, we served a yummy, powerful red, a Clos des Fées Domaine du Clos des Fées 2002. With the dessert, we poured a delicious dessert wine made from viognier grapes, the Francois Villard Aprés Tout.

I have to admit that we had help catering this meal. We hired two amazing people, a waiter and kitchen-hand, who assisted us in the dining room and in the kitchen. Without them, there is no way we could have accomplished this meal. Of course, even with their help, by the end of the night S and I were both exhausted. And while I still contend that such gigs are not something I’d be keen to do too often, the experience was very rewarding. Especially when two of the guests told us that the meal was one of the best they had ever eaten.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. San San July 10, 2006 at 10:35 am

    Hi CH
    Awesome :)
    For some reason though, I can’t see the pictures except for the 1st.

  2. J July 10, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    hi, quite evidently, the monumental effort, care, planning (and stress!) paid off – fabulous ideas, exquisite pairings, a beautiful meal, and of course, wonderful pictures and post

  3. Eddie Lin July 10, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    I almost passed out just imagining what all that wonderful food smelled, felt and tasted like. And I don’t easily faint at the sight of anything.

  4. kierra July 10, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    gosh… this is one site i can’t visit when i’m working.

    i’m now hungry.

  5. Kathrine July 10, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    Wauw – the food sounds and looks amazing! I’ll be in Singapore for the first time in a few weeks, can’t wait to try some (hopefully) delicious food.

  6. Matt July 10, 2006 at 11:03 pm

    What an ambitious endeavor! My hat is off to you, my friend! What a beautiful menu that has me salivating this morning. Absolutely gorgeous combinations and photographs. I’m sure the guests enjoyed all your hard work and now the rest of the world can too.

    Excellent!

  7. Tokyoastrogirl July 11, 2006 at 2:52 am

    Congratulations. What an accomplishment. Your dinner looks absolutely stunning and would no doubt impress even the pickiest gourmands. You and your wife are truly amazing.

  8. ellen July 11, 2006 at 4:27 am

    very impressive meal-great choices, wonderful pictures!

  9. Helen (AugustusGloop) July 11, 2006 at 7:44 am

    Amazing stuff. And to think you had time to take photos as well (or did you plate a spare one like they do on Iron Chef? lol).

  10. Chubby Hubby July 11, 2006 at 9:33 am

    Ben: Thanks.

    Michael: Also thanks.

    Cari: It’s really fun working with S. We pour through our collection of cookbooks and throw out combination ideas. Over the years, S has learnt to ignore my first few ideas and then propose something sensible instead. :-)

    San San: Hi, the pix should be working.

    J: Thanks. As said, your macarons were the perfect climax to the evening.

    Eddie: Thanks. Well, if you ever come this way, I’d be happy to make you some of these dishes — but maybe not all in one night ;-p

    Kierra: Hah… Best to visit right before your lunch break. That way you can be inspired to eat a good lunch.

    Kathrine: Well, we have tons of good food here. I think you’ll have a great time.

    Matt: Thanks. Coming from the master food stylist, I’m flattered. :-)

    Tokyoastrogirl: Well, I’m just happy the guests didn’t see us freaking out when the oven wouldn’t reach the correct temperature and then shot up like crazy way above what we wanted. I hate using unfamiliar ovens.

    Ellen: Thanks.

    Helen: Thanks. No, I shot while we were plating. That’s why I etched out the edges of the plates and replaced the background (messy kitchen counter) with field of white. I was very worried that none of the pix would be usable but with a little help from photoshop, voila.

  11. Zara's Mama July 11, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    The look of the starter is just so mouth watering..

    Argh!!

  12. lobstersquad July 11, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    you´re hired! if you´re ever in Madrid, that is, and want to take the shine out of everyone around. That looks soooo good.

  13. mae July 11, 2006 at 8:50 pm

    You and S are just amazing couple! Beautiful dishes, wonderfully planned and executed. Congratulations!

  14. zhonghuarising July 11, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    Your customers are a lucky bunch. Not only are the pictures amazing, but your descriptions have made my mouth water. I hope you will consider catering more in the future!

  15. Anonymous July 11, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    Very very impressive!!!

    Cannes

  16. Anonymous July 12, 2006 at 2:32 am

    I’m drooling!!!!!!

  17. yoony July 12, 2006 at 6:29 am

    wow you guys did an amazing job! how did you finish such a variety of dishes?? only if i could get a taste! i am so impressed and excited for your first catering gig. :) i’m so hungry now~

  18. Cin July 12, 2006 at 9:56 am

    That was awesome! I am more than willingly to pay for a dinner prepared by S & you anytime. Am dying to try every dish U’ve cooked.
    Alternatively,if U ever gonna do anthr catering gig, I volunteer to be yr kitchen helper.(dat’s if U dun find me a liability. Heh!) If I could jux have a little food sampling. LOL! Resorting to desperate measures in order to sample S & your cooking.

  19. Vivilicious July 12, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    No wonder you’ve been so busy! I use to cater in London so I know how hard the work can be, though of course, I never had to make a dinner quite as refined as yours! I’d pay top dollar for that meal, all the things I find scrummy! And to have a cool enough head to take such lovely pics during, yikes. Bravo…

  20. SimplePleasures July 14, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    it looks gorgeous! How I wish I was one of the guest in the party :)

  21. Anonymous July 15, 2006 at 10:22 am

    San San,
    You need to install Photoshop for the missing pics to show up on your pc.
    LY

  22. Anonymous July 16, 2006 at 10:52 am

    First visit to your blog (came here from chokylit), so this is the first post I’ve read, but . . . veal? I just don’t get it. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to find the whole idea of veal just . . . wrong. Right? I’m not trying to be a bad sport. This is your blog, after all, and obviously a gorgeous one. But I am genuinely taken aback.

  23. MuddyAshley July 19, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    Amazing! Absolutely awesome.. the dedication you 2 put in to present such a beautiful course! Just imagining puts me to heavennnnnnnnn.

    I’m envious!

    Curious tho, doesthat mean you’d to lug all your equipment there?

  24. Adam Michela July 30, 2006 at 11:50 pm

    wow-o-wow. I’ve been thinking about taking a stab at a small bit of catering myself…

    Reading this, I’m more convinced then ever that I could absolutely NOT pull it off ;)

    Amazing work, especially for your first go-around.

  25. nicky August 28, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    hi can someone give me the contact number for this couple who cater in singapore. also is anyone aware of any other good caterers for small home parties? thanks

  26. Catering San Francisco April 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Beautiful! thank’s for the interesting post

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