Upon entering, I was immediately interrogated by the doorman. I guess my hoodie, sneakers, jeans and backpack just screamed "I don't belong here!" I was shown to the service elevator (maybe there's a dress code for the regular elevator?) and was taken to the sixth floor. The doors opened directly into the client's kitchen and I felt like I was transported to a scene from Gosford Park.
Although I only saw the kitchen and dining room, the apartment looked, felt, and smelled like an old 1930s English country house. Without looking out the window, I would have never guessed I was in the middle of New York City. The kitchen was pretty standard, but for the ten china cabinets dedicated to several different patterns of china and hundreds of pieces of silver and crystal.
The dining room had a long mahogany table, yellowing floral wallpaper, and museum-sized portraits in heavy, gold-trimmed frames. The owners were an elderly couple celebrating their nephew's 50th birthday.
Sit-down dinner (20 guests)
On the menu
Passed Hors d'œuvres
- Bite-sized Maryland crab cakes with red pepper aioli and capers
- Braised short ribs with caramelized onions on potato latkes
- Chinese shaomai dumplings served with a orange-soy dipping sauce
- Endive with herbed goat cheese, tomato and olives
- Mixed green salad with cranberries, pumpkin seeds and Asiago cheese, served with a balsamic vinaigrette
- Filet mignon with a red wine demi-glaze, served with celery root fingerling potato puree, sauteed mushrooms and sugarsnap peas
- Individual chocolate molten lava cakes with caramel sauce and raspberries
Catering, especially for these types of private parties, requires a lot of compromising and problem solving. There's always going to be something missing (an ingredient, a pot or pan, a utensil) and there's always going to be a change (in this instance, the last minute omission of raw onions and garlic). Thankfully, the crew was flexible, calm and experienced at 'handling' the client, which makes events like these a breeze.
On a side note, I'm fascinated that there are people who live like this. I mean, this was a family get together at a grandparents' house and everyone was dressed to the nines. There was butler service, seating arrangements and a strict agenda for the guests (drinks in the foyer, then to the dining room, and finally to the living room to enjoy aperitifs, cigars and a hired jazz quartet). This old-rich is so different from the new-rich I had just experienced at 25 Bond St. It's stuffy, rigid, and overly scheduled.
There is one old-rich tradition I favor that the new-rich do not often participate in - tipping. In restaurants, only front of the house and customer-facing chefs receive tips. So after years in the food service industry, this was my very first tip. It was an unexpected, greatly appreciated bonus!
Next up: A full day catering Cooper Union's commencement.