Sunday, December 13, 2009


It's not escaped my notice that I tend to head right for the keyboard when I'm stressed, unhappy or overwhelmed. Of course, my life isn't all about negotiating the minefield of small business ownership, and trying to duck pieces of crap flying off the fan blades. I just tend to sort of…bask in the good times, rather than run to the computer and bang out a blog entry. So…in an effort to inject a modicum of balance into this collection of frustration-laced essays, I feel compelled to relate some stories of the past week.

Let's start with last Saturday. Saturday was holiday D-day for me—the day that would either make or kill my entire Christmas season. It was the day my chef, the Husband and the Good and Faithful "D" ventured up the hill to a home that could well have been featured in Sunset magazine, to cater an eight-course meal for a group of six couples. Six couples who had heretofore held their Christmas gathering in the "Wine Room" of the Benson Hotel in downtown Portland. Not just a tall order…think Mount Everest.

We had never, ever done anything like this before. And, to the nail-biting frustration of Li'l Ole Control-Freak Me, the success or failure of this little endeavor was almost completely out of my hands. I'd handed the controls to the young man with the knowledge and the creds to carry it off—California Chef.

My input into the catering affair was reduced to making sure if Chef said, "I need…", whatever it was he needed materialized forthwith. I adopted an attitude of almost aggressive indifference to Chef's preparation…knowing I had no basis for useful input, I opted to step as far away from the proceedings as I could. I let Chef fill our fridges to bursting with his prep, put my head down and set myself to the task of running the rest of the business. With a vengeance.

Late Saturday afternoon, I sent the little posse up the hill with my exhortation to "Make us proud." Then I turned around and attacked the work I couldn't get done all day while Chef monopolized every appliance and surface in our tiny kitchen with his last-minute preparations. In chef's absence, it was up to me to handle dinner service for the café. Luckily, we were just busy enough to keep my mind off what might be going on up the hill.

At 8:45, I was putting the finishing touches on my scoured grill and "T", my front-of-the-house girl of the evening, was rinsing and polishing the stainless steel sinks in the kitchen. The back door opened, and the "Conquering Heroes" began dragging empty coolers and assorted dishware down the hall. "Oh, crap," I whined ungraciously to "T". "We just got finished cleaning up and now they're going to come in here and trash the kitchen….!"

"Great to see you, too!" sniped the Husband. Oops.

A few minutes later, after finally swallowing the trepidation that kept rising up in my gullet, I asked:

"So… How'd it go?"

Young Chef, who had up until this time maintained his inscrutable quiet, replied with a one-sided grin,

"Well…we got a standing ovation."


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