>I agree with the scheduling. Many of the feasts out here are a whole
>day event with dancing, competions and court between courses. If
>things are planned before the feast, a tighter schedule is best. A
>shorter feast would mean smaller portions and/or fewer dishes per
>course. Whatever your schedule, post it for the populace to see.
Or it could mean that most of the food had been prepared ahead of
time, so the kitchen was relatively inactive.
>I also agree with the rigid timetable, do your best to see what the
>facilities look like ahead of time. This will affect your schedule. If
>there are only six burners and two stoves, you need to know that ahead
>of time. A timetable will help you find any sticking points --dish X
>needs to be in the oven before dish Y is done. There is almost no way
>to over-organize cooking a feast.
I agree that making a schedule can help. I've written them up in both
30 minute and 15 minute increments, depending on the complexity of
the feast and how much had been pre-cooked and how complicated the
kitchen dance is going to be (do i have one home kitchen type stove
or a big industrial stove? A grill? how many ovens? etc.).
>One last note, one thing we've started doing is listing ingredients
>for the various dishes for those with allergies. Some cooks don't like
>doing this because they consider it trade secrets, but it keeps people
>from running into the kitchen at every course.
Donata and I are in the same Kingdom and i've been listing
ingredients since i began cooking feasts during my second year in the
SCA (i've only been in 6 years). I got this idea from the SCA-Cooks
e-mail list. I always include a paper menu, listing the dishes in
each course and the ingredients in each dish. For my first feast i
didn't get to the photocopy place in time, so i posted the menu and
ingredients next to the kitchen door, so folks didn't have to come
into the kitchen. Otherwise, i make a menu or feast booklet for each
diner. I realize this is rather modern, but it's better than someone
eating something that will make them sick, or someone out of caution
not eating something they could have.
I mention my feast ahead of time on our Kingdom list, asking that
folks with allergies and other serious food issues contact me, but i
have yet to be contacted in 6 years. So I also suggest that diners
ask for me at the kitchen door if they have a problem... this hasn't
bothered me, but around here most people are polite and ask first if
they feel they need to enter the kitchen. Heck, i cooked a couple
Boar Hunt feasts during which the Boar (a heavy fighter with a
special helmet) ran through the kitchen. I threatened to cook him for
the feast (good naturedly, of course)
Anyway, one frequent diner really disliked vinegar. She came to the
kitchen door and explained and i was able to dish her salad before
tossing it with the vinegar. A very simple concession.
But our feasts here in The West are rarely at the Kingdom level
(except at Collegia), most being at the Principality or Shire level
and having fewer than 100 diners. And generally people don't have
unrealistic expectations such as not contacting the cook and
expecting special treatment the day of the feast. Folks with complex
food issues tend to bring their own safe food, without burdening the
Feast Cook. I can see that people cooking for larger groups, or with
an excess of impolite diners might face more challenges.
Additionally, about 10 per cent of the diners at my feasts are
vegetarians. I've recently started using a designated vegetarian
server - since the vegetarians are all around the hall - when i have
separate platters of some dish for the vegetarians and for the
omnivores. I anticipate vegetarians and plan my meals so that
vegetarians can have plenty to eat - i don't require them to contact
me ahead of time. There's no problem - all i do is cook the
vegetables that would be simmered in broth in a rich vegetable broth.
It's also possible that because the vegetarians know i have
vegetarian friendly meals more of them come to my feasts, since i've
heard other Cooks say they thought there weren't so many vegetarians
at their feasts.
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita