Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Catering Job


Caterer One and Two have always loved cooking and I suppose that no one was surprised when they turned their passion into a flourishing catering business. Last Sunday, they had to cater for an event in Mayaro and they asked if I would come out for a day's work. Given the fact that I came from Colombia with no money and I need to go back soon, I decided that the money would come in handy so I accepted. Plus, I had never done a catering job so I figured that it would be an interesting, learning experience. I would later learn that I was absolutely right on both counts.

The day arrived and I have to admit that I was excited. My mom and I got up early and were in Mayaro by 8AM. We were greeted by Caterer One (CO) and the smell of callaloo, bubbling away on the stove. Before we started working, CO gave us a list of what we would be cooking and my excitement evaporated immediately for two reasons; 1) the menu included dhalpourie, curried chicken, pelau, curried duck, spinach rice, callaloo, pigeon peas, lappe, manicou, cascadura, baked salmon stuffed with spinach and creamed cheese, yam, dasheen and sweet potato and 2) CO had only hired four people for the cooking of the food; three of which could actually COOK. I started off peeling carrots and washing seasoning ingredients but I eventually graduated to washing massive pots in a small sink with the world's most retarded pot scrub. On top of that CO kept saying, "Come nah Fari, quick is the word, quick is the word!" In turn, I wanted to sardonically ask him if he realised that there was food stuck to the side of the pots, food that needed to be removed so that the pot can be used again. For some reason, I found myself keeping comments to myself. Usually I would have told him what was on my mind. I suppose I saw myself as an employee, CO was my boss and I had to do what was asked of me without complaining. So I kept it all in which further augmented my stress levels and made me really frustrated. As the evening progressed I would become very emotionally unstable. Two hours into cooking, CO seemed to realise that he would need more people if he wanted to finish on time. DUH!!! I could have told him that; the five year old boys playing in the court yard could have told him that! CO called two of his relatives who came across to help. Eventually, everything was cooked, boxed or else placed in those snazzy, silver catering containers to be served to the V.V.I.P.

Whilst everyone else was in charge of washing up and cleaning the kitchen, I was delegated the task of 'running'. As a 'runner', I had to ensure that whenever the food finished on the 'line', it was replenished until everyone was served. As simple as it sounds, in this case it was a tough, physically demanding job. The event was held obliquely opposite to the place where the food was cooked. As such, I had to walk from the kitchen, down three steps, across the yard, through a gate, across the street, through the Savannah entrance, across some disgusting gravel path, through another entrance and into the V.V.I.P section. By the time I had done this trip six times between my shoulders started aching, my arms were experiencing muscle spasms, my toes felt like they were walked upon, my head was throbbing and my throat was sore from yelling over the speakers, trying to get the stupid, no chupid, V.V.I.P to move outta my way because they seemed to overlook the fact that I was toting heavy no ass, silver containers back and forth. Finally, everything was served and I was SO relieved.

My relief lasted all but five minutes when I realised that I would have to help bring back the stuff to the kitchen. At the beginning it was a group effort with the girls CO had hired to serve, CO and myself working as a team. Over time I noticed that I was toting more stuff in comparison to the girls who were sitting down one by one, apparently tired. I heard one of them say, "Let the boy move the thing and them, I tired!" Mind you, I had been working since 8AM! Surprisingly, I didn't tell her anything, I just mentally referred to her as a 'dumb, hard- faced girl who would amount to nothing' and went about my business; my repressed ire making the vein on the side of my head throb violently. The night's unfairness continued when I noticed that CO had left and could be seen mingling in the crowd, drink in hand while I continued to trek tirelessly back and forth, this time carrying ten plates at a time because the plate crate (hey, that rhymes!) was too heavy for me to carry, please note that there were 250 plates. I had probably done six trips when my self control started to ebb away and my anger, frustration, hurt and helplessness started seeping to the surface. I was stomping the ground when I walked, "steupsing" at random intervals and snapping at people. My mother, knowing me so well, noticed my distaste and asked me if everything was OK. Well, I suppose it was now or never, everything came out as I yelled, "YES! Yes ah vex, everybody sitting down and liming while I walking up and down toting plate like ah CLAT!" It felt so good to let everything out although I was on the verge of tears and my mother looked at me, puzzled at my use of the word clat. CO suddenly appeared out of nowhere and busied himself helping me with the plate crates. Within ten minutes we were finished and I was getting waiting on the Mayaro stand for a car to Grande.

It was a very emotionally and physically demanding day. I re- learned that sometimes you have to let people know when they on shit and taking advantage of you. Plus, you can't bottle up your emotions, it's unhealthy and you might end up in St. Ann's. Furthermore, I will DEFINITELY be adding catering to my list of undesirable jobs. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your day!

NB: I got paid!