Where Is...?

11 August 2011

Summer Sunsets and Cheesecake

As summer draws to a close, students are returning to their college life here in Turlock. This weekend alone, we have 7 different events welcoming them back, all culminating on Sunday with the Welcome Back Dinner and Ice Cream Social. Over 800 students and family will pack our main dining hall for a buffet dinner of Bourbon Glazed Pork Loin, Herb Roasted Chicken and Sesame Tofu Stir Fry. I am overseeing the show... meaning my 3 Chefs de Cuisine are running it... I am merely here to make sure it goes off without a hitch and to make suggestions as to how they do it.
I have been maintaining a 60-70 hour schedule this summer, most of my employees are on summer layoff, but that doesn't mean that we don't have anything going on. There have been weddings, retirement parties, and camps. Camps, meaning that there are groups from all over California that come stay in the dorms and have activities throughout the day... cheerleaders, underprivileged inner city youth, math and music camps.. etc. You get the idea. They have to eat, right? So all summer long it has been  up to me and my very limited staff to feed them.. and if it means I work a 7 day week, so be it. It's amazing to me that we have to be serving 1600 students a day for me to get some time off. Needless to say, I am looking forward to my birthday and Fleet Week in SF the second week of October.
Right now, I am actually able to sit here and write my blog. I am waiting for 3 hotel pan sized cheesecakes to finish baking so I can go home. An item by special request for the Resident Advisers of housing. The dorms are full up too... almost 1200 students will be living on campus this year. This job as Executive Chef is getting bigger and bigger at this account, and honestly I couldn't be happier. It is growing with me.
I feel like I am really coming into my own with this job. There have been headaches and screw-ups... forgetting to put that other steak in with the President's dinner (oops!), losing a whole warmer off the side of the loading dock.... lemme tell ya, I can run and yell instructions better than some drill sergeants! But there have been some real BRIGHT spots... seeing a student that had gotten her Bachelor's but enrolled in Culinary School because that is what she really loves... and has told me that I am her inspiration. (all warm and fuzzy)... The President of CSU Stanislaus publicly thanking me for a fantastic dinner. The attitude of returning students towards their food service provider changed last semester... we gained a whopping 40% in approval rating from Fall 2010 to Spring 2011, something typically unheard of. So, I feel good. I feel positive and happy. Something I haven't felt for a long time... time to go take cheesecakes out of the oven. I will try to be more regular on my postings... but don't count on it.