Sunday, 6 November 2016

Samhain Feast 2016

Falling asleep standing up in my court garb...
So, Samhain finally came and went, and the entire Culinary Group survived successfully! I'm really proud of the whole team. As stressed as we were leading up to the big day, I definitely feel like we pulled it off.

Caterina &tc. likes to do this "GBU" thing for post-event reports - Good, Bad, and Ugly - and so I think I will do the same. I think I will phrase it as "good, not-so-good, and bad," though. I'm really going to be mostly speaking to my experiences with the feast preparation and how I think that went, since that's basically what I did all day.

The Good:
- We were really organized in terms of our schedule, to-do list, our recipes, etc. and that definitely helped make sure that we were on time almost all day long.
- The food which we prepared for the feast was tested twice, so we were really confident in our recipes and I think they went over well for the most part.
- On the whole, I think we worked really excellently as a team and everyone was very good-natured and pleasant with one another. Even when things started to get a little stressful towards service, we stayed on top of it and got it together.
- It was so lovely to hear from people that they enjoyed the food we made. It can be really hard to know what's going on outside from inside the kitchen, so we really appreciate it when people take the time to come up and let us know how everything was. Her Highness Princess Nasheeta took the time at the end of the night to personally thank us for our service, and it was really touching and really appreciated.
- We were able to organize ourselves in such a way that some of us were able to be a part of Caterina's elevation ceremony, which I cried all the way through like the mature adult I am. It was a real blessing to be able to take part, and it's only thanks to the efforts of those who stepped up to stay behind that we were able to do so. I am so grateful.
- There were people over and above who I thought would come help who worked super hard all day long in the kitchen! So amazing!
- My Pelican, Mistress Coryn, was able to attend from Borealis. Her words of support and advice throughout the day were sincerely appreciated and helped keep me grounded when things got tough!
- Baron James was present all day long, and was absolutely the key factor in our success. He brought almost every piece of equipment we had, helped us prep efficiently all day long, kept us organized, and mentored us so we'll all know what we're doing better next time.
- After hearing that the kitchen crew didn't have enough food to eat, Sir Kirk and Sir Varrus's group very, very kindly delivered some of their own food to us. We were incredibly touched by this generosity! We also ordered in pizza, so all's well that ends well.

The Not-So-Good:
- The way the tables were going to be set up in our heads (8 to a table, 10 tables) was not the reality of how the hall was set up due to space limitations (long rows of tables, 6 to a table) so that fundamentally changed the way our food was distributed. Completely not anyone's fault at all and totally understandable given the size of the hall, but it was a going concern in the kitchen!
- The kitchen was SO HOT. So hot. Having 14 crockpots in there and three ovens on all day and very little ventilation meant it was a real sauna!
- There were a few small hiccups with portions (not enough for the kitchen crew, for example) and one of our recipes took a lot longer than we had predicted to prepare, which meant we had a few problems getting out the second remove in a timely fashion.

The Bad: 
- I am really aching today from my head to my toes!
- 8:00am to 12:30am is really much too long of a day for anyone to be working non-stop. Many of the kitchen staff only got breaks so they could fulfill other responsibilities; some only brief stops for the bathroom or a glass of water. I'm not really sure if it's possible to resolve that except through a lot more clean-up assistance, but honestly the kitchen crew are the only ones who know what belongs to whom and where it goes, so it's kind of important that we stick around. It might be helpful in the future to program in a forced 30-minute break during a lull in preparation which everyone has to obey.
- Regrettably, there were a very small number of folks who were not very gentle or kind to the kitchen/event staff at a few times throughout the day, which put some of the crew in a pretty sour mood about the whole thing. We finished strong and I know that 95% of the people in attendance were satisfied, but it can't help but hurt your feelings when you're in a 40C kitchen all day long or running off your feet as a volunteer and people aren't as kind as you know they can be. Please know that anyone working hard to serve the populace at an SCA event is doing so out of love, and we are really trying our very best.

So, that was that! I had fun being in the kitchen and despite my nerves, I know it won't be long until I'm in there again. There is something really satisfying about a job well done! I love watching a feast come together from the planning stages to the big night.

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