Yep, you read it right. Our final project in this second module was a group project (ugh, I’m so over groups. Why do they always do groups in school? I’ve been an adult doing things on my own for many years). We were divided into 4 groups. 2 groups would compete on one day, the other 2 would compete the next day. The groups were set by the teacher and each group selected a captain….me, for my group. The task was to pick a theme for our cuisine and we would be replacing the regular lunch service at the campus food court for the day. The menu must include an appetizer or dessert, sandwich, salad and an entree with a protein, starch and vegetable. I love challenges and this proved to be a big one. Your group is only as strong as your weakest link and in my case, I had two weak links. I’m not throwing anyone under the bus here but from past experience, one member would randomly leave class for no reason and another member would not show up for days at a time. I had one member that I could count on. Armed with that info, I took it upon myself to think about what we should serve. I tossed around a number of ideas and finally decided on our theme. Others were using ethnic themes (Korean, Fusion) but we decided that our theme would be that everything served would be grilled. I though that serving a grilled salad would create a lot of interest so that clinched the deal. Even our dessert would be grilled! The menu decided upon included:
Surf & Turf – Grilled flank steak with Chimichurri sauce (Argentinian), grilled Mahi Mahi with chipotle hollandaise sauce, grilled sweet, purple and Yukon gold potatoes and grilled asparagus spears. This would be our signature dish.
Mahi Mahi on Grilled Romaine Lettuce Salad – If you haven’t had grilled romaine lettuce, you must try it. The charred leaves add so much flavor. I served the salad with grilled Roma tomatoes, Parmesan cheese shavings, grilled plums and pineapple and a wonderful chimichurri dressing. I added a twist to the traditional chimichurri by adding some mint. It was wonderful. I had a taste just before we started service.
Grilled 3 cheese, prosciutto and grilled tomato sandwich – Smoked mozzarella, cheddar and blue cheese with crispy prosciutto and tomato, grilled on the open flame. It was my twist on the traditional grilled cheese sandwich.
Farfalle and Grilled Chicken – This was a winner. I made a cream sauce spiked with chipotle, tossed with asparagus, peas, zucchini and eggplant. The smoky finish of the chipotle was just right.
Grilled plums, bananas and pineapple on grilled pound cake topped with ice cream and honey. Yes, even the dessert was grilled.
We would be judged by the number of covers that we sold. So, some strategy was needed to plan this to my advantage. I realized that there were not many dessert sales on it’s own so we could have a dessert but as an add on to any entree, so for $2 extra, you got dessert.
Our group competed against the Korean food team on a Thursday. I sent an email to several friends and family members asking them to come over and buy some food. Little did I know that thanks to them, we sold a total of 79 covers. You may not know what that amount means but our normal student service, consisting of 10-12 different entrees normally serve that many. We only served 4 entrees and hit that amount. We ran out of our pasta dish and the surf and turf. I can’t say that things went smoothly. We were late in getting our stations set up. Remember the group member who randomly would leave…anyway, 15 minutes before showtime, he said he was going to leave because he had a headache. Hmm, do you think I blew up? Yep. He stayed.
I was so glad that it was over for us. We could cruise on Friday and just be there to support the other 2 groups. When all was said and done, our next closest competitor sold about 55 covers. We were declared the winner and was given round trip tickets to NYC. Yeah right! We got a cook book, some chocolates and a knife cover.
I can finally sleep at night and not have this menu and competition consume my life. So we are off to our third and final module of this intro to cooking course. I’m excited.
In honor of “We Grill Everything…Even Dessert”, the night before the competition, I grilled everything, but had no dessert.
Next entry will be from next module.