Saturday, January 26, 2013

California Adventure Continues Part 2

California Adventure Continues Part 2

The last post ended with the Irvine Ranch Farmers Market. While still at the Irvine Ranch Farmers Market I was recruited to become part of the opening team of the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach, California. I took on the project with glee.

Me & a colleague at the employee opening party,
Four Seasons Hotel, Newport Beach, CA
My part in that venture was training the banquet personal in French service. This was not an easy task -most hotels or restaurants do not go with that venue. The Four Seasons Hotel did and, I presume still does. Of course a lot of grumbling went on and on. I had the service personnel train with raw eggs, (want to guess how many dozens of eggs ended up on the floor?) Yikes! In the end they managed the task.

I also took charge of the banquets themselves which was not one of my favorite parts of the Food & Beverage Catering Department. However, I knew I had to do it if I wanted to move up at the Four Season Hotel Company. It was hair-raising at times. I decided I needed to get out of banquets and move either into catering sales or take on one of the Restaurants. The F&B was a woman and she was on top of things; people always thought of me as a drill sergeant but Nicky beat me by a mile. We had to wear suits and heels which, of course, I always did anyway. But, one evening the sub-banquet kitchen floor on the eighth floor was wet and I slipped straight onto my back. Oh boy. That was when I decided I needed to move out of being in charge of banquets.

My friend, the General Manager for the Meridian Hotel, offered me a job in outside catering. Like a fool I went back to the Four Seasons right then and there and resigned, which was another bad choice on my part. The job offer from the Meridian had to be approved by corporate in France since it was to be a new division at the Meridian. Well you guessed it. Corporate did decline the creation of the division. To make a long story short there I was with no job, a condo I had leased with the option to buy and could not, and I had to move with Heidi and Kurt. We relocated to Costa Mesa, Heidi and Kurt rented their own apartment and I rented a one bedroom for myself. To supplement income I did some private catering.

It was not a happy time and I ridiculed myself. How could I have been so stupid to quit the job at the Four Season Hotel before I had a contract in hand from the Meridian? My advice to anyone contemplating changing jobs: never quit your job until you actually have a new one.

After dwelling in my misery for a while I had to snap out of it. My son Rodmond in Santa Cruz suggested that I move to Santa Cruz which I ultimately did. It was a good move for me.

 Heidi and Kurt opted to stay in Orange County. Heidi was in College and had a job. Kurt also was employed.

After a few days in Santa Cruz I went job hunting and landed the job as Food & Beverage Director for the Dream Inn Hotel. I was so happy you can imagine. I will write more about Northern California in my next blog.

In response to requests for my“Eintopf” (Meal in a Pot) recipes I will add my Lamb Pot. It is so good this time of the year.

Lamb Pot

1 pound lamb (stew meat is fine)
   Pepper and salt to taste
2 tablespoons dried basil (fresh basil is better)
1 tablespoon curry powder
3 tablespoons olive oil (vegetable oil can be used)

2 quarts of beef stock (bouillon cubes can be substituted)
   salt to taste (do use salt sparingly if you use beef bouillon cubes)
1 pound carrots (peeled and sliced)
1 pound celery root (peeled and sliced)
4 leeks (cleaned and sliced, do not use the end of the leeks)

Cut lamb into cubes, (if you do not use stew meat). Season with pepper, curry powder and basil. Make sure meat is covered well with the spices. In a heavy saucepan heat the oil, add the meat and brown on all sides. Add the beef stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Correct seasoning. Add the carrots, celery root and simmer 20 more minutes. Add the leeks and simmer 10 more minutes. Finish of with fresh ground pepper and fresh or dried basil.

NOTE: Fresh farm bread or any fresh sour dough bread is great with this dish. Can be frozen up to three month. This is a great party dish.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

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