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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Going Greek...

Well, it all started with the Pastor asking me if I would be willing to head up the meal for our Passover Celebration.  I asked how many people...he said, "oh, well, I don't know.  We've never done something like this before. I don't think it would be more than 50, maybe 100 people interested".  Hmmm, I thought.  Well, I've cooked for Alpha before and that was for 60ish people.  I could probably do this.  We talked about menu.  He was open to anything, but after discussing the theme of the celebration and the meaning of it we thought it may be fun to do a Mediterranean flavoured meal.  I love, love, love Greek food and I've been cooking it more confidently in the past few months.  I figured, if I could cook it for our family then I could expand it for 50ish people.  Guess what?  I didn't cook for 50ish people.  I cooked for 250ish people.  Yeah...I reacted the same way.  Here's the part where I need to define 'I cooked'.  I didn't really cook for that many people.  I organized the cooking for that many people. 

Here's how 'I' did it:
First, I phoned all the 'pros' in our church that I could find and asked them how the heck you cook for that many people.  I took notes.  Lots of notes.
Second, I planned the menu.  Lots of research, lots of math.  Two things I least enjoy.
Thirdly, I took the advice of those pro's and delegated each aspect of the meal to different people.  Those people were responsible for finding all the people they needed.  I provided them with their recipes, and offered to do their shopping for them if they didn't want to do that part.
Fourthly, I panicked.  A lot.  What if this?  What if that?  What if I failed hugely?
Fifth, I gave it to God.  If you're taking notes, I would suggest placing this first, third, fifth and so on....I prayed that God would provide me with the knowledge, the peace, the ability, the help and the opportunity to honour Him.
Rob had his hand injury in the middle of all of this and the Pastor graciously offered me an out on all of this.  He was so great about it.  He said it would be fine to order KFC.  Um, no, it's not fine.  I'll still do it!  Then I went back to step number 5, again and again.
God provided above and beyond.  He gave us peace in a crazy, overwhelming time, He gave us helpers with great attitudes and abilities, and He used it for His glory. 
I am a person who thrives on challenges and tends to take them on to deal with stress.  Backwards, I know, but it makes me who I am.
We served:
BBQ'd souvlaki chicken - we bbq'd 270 pieces and had 6 leftover!
Greek Potatoes - everyone got one portion, and about 10 lucky people got seconds!
Lemon/Dill Rice - lots of rice, and one pan leftover
Greek Salad - oh was it good! Just enough left over for a few lunches for the help!
Unleavened bread (in keeping with Passover tradition) with tzaziki dip
Dessert - this was not my dept but it was good!  I think there was a chocolate or orange type cake of some sort...I didn't have much time to enjoy;)
The teams had to be scheduled around the space and equipment available in the kitchen. 
Everything had to be labelled with instructions for the prep team and table setting crew.
I was on my feet for 13 hours solid and my notes looked like shredded paper by the time I was done, but we did it!
Some of the many challenges presented:
Addition of people right up to the event!  Seriously people, buy your tickets on time!
Shopping for that many ingredients and fitting them all in my car!
Not having access to the kitchen until 11pm the night before the event (there was a wedding in the day before the event)
Preparing all the food in a foodsafe manner and having the right people on hand to help with that!
Clean up for that many dishes! (surprisingly it only took 3 hours to clean over 1000 dishes!)
Coming in on budget when the meal was only $5 per person ( I think I came in UNDER budget!!!)
Naysayers in the ranks...
I have to share how disappointed I was to hear of a couple of people who talked negatively about this event before it even happened!  There was one particular 'party' who verbalized to a few people their displeasure at the choice of menu.  Really?  REALLY?  I get it if you don't like Greek, not everyone does.  The ironic reality is that it's chicken, potatoes, rice and veggies people...but instead of soaking them in sweet and sour, we're using savoury spices. I chose not to be discouraged for long.  Some people will ALWAYS find something to complain about!
Our Pastors wife was so encouraging.  We talked about how this celebration was about SO MUCH MORE than Greek food.  This celebration was about the importance and meaning of Jesus' last supper with His disciples.  This celebration was about the significance of His death on the cross.  This supper was about our heritage.  This supper was about gathering with friends and families and teaching our children more about their heavenly Father.  This celebration was meant to honour God.  It was a wonderful evening.  I didn't get to partake in the readings and such, but I did grab a quick plate of food and visit with friends.  I am forever in debt to our dear friends Rich and Shell for their joy and willingness in helping us with so much prep work.  We are definitely treating you to dinner one of these days...and it won't be Greek food!
I'll post a few of the recipes I chose for this meal in the next week and you can give them a try if you like. 
Everything was made from scratch with the exception of the tzaziki dip (mine never tastes as good as the store stuff) and the greek salad dressing (which is so perfectly made by our local Greek restaurant)  Kudos to the bbq team, the rice team, the potato peeling & prep crew, the chicken prep crew, the dessert prep team, the Greek salad gurus and the set up and clean up crews.  Your help and experience was a huge asset!  I have heard wonderfully positive things about the whole experience and that's all the thanks I need.  Would I do it again....NO!  Well, maybe.  Ask me later.  Most likely.
Oh...and did I mention that I'm a details person?  I am. To add some colour to the tables I went to one of our local daffodil farmers and bought bulk.  I love our Bradner farmers, they're so helpful and generous.  We got a steal of a deal on a large amount of flowers and he mixed several varieties up in the order just for kicks!  I love community.

4 comments:

  1. What an offering, Andrea. Congratulations on being a huge blessing to your church! It looked amazing!

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  2. you truly do rock Andrea. way to go.

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  3. You do rock and you did an amazing job. It was DELICIOUS!!!!!

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  4. I must say my daughter is MUCH more adventurous than her mother. I wondered how you would be able to put this all together and I was a bit nervous for you..... BUT the meal was awesome - excellent flavour, lots of food, so well organized. Way to go Andrea - I've always been very proud of you but good thing I wasn't wearing a blouse with buttons on it that night - they would have burst off with my pride! You not only rose to the occasion, you sailed through with flying colours. You truly have the heart of a servant and never look for any payment more than God's blessings. May he pour them out on you, love, proud Mom

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