After five weeks of preparation and much anticipation for the Big Easy Brunch at Riderwood, it was well worth all the hard work and long hours! From the beginning, the residents and cooks were very curious to know what foods would be included in our New Orleans theme brunch. The residents’ feedback was much appreciated during the planning process to help us determine which foods were their favorites. “Original” beignets from Café du Monde were the hot topic and highly anticipated. I am also incredibly grateful for kitchen staff’s support. They not only provided great insight about where and how to promote the event, but they also assisted us as we maneuvered through the kitchen and used different equipment. This input from the residents and staff contributed to the overall success of the event, yet I had much more to learn about foodservice operations before completing my six-week rotation.
As a dietetic intern, my love of nutrition, food, and cooking makes the kitchen a comfortable environment for me, yet I found myself unsure how I might tackle a meal for 150 people. I must add that our menu involved some culinary techniques that may seem foreign the home cook. These new challenges included working with active yeast to make the beignet and King Cake dough. I quickly discovered how sensitive active yeast can be if the liquid ingredients are too hot. In addition, I learned how to make hollandaise sauce and the tricks to fix the sauce if the emulsion breaks. Lastly, the most daunting task of the entire event may have been poaching 150 eggs for the fried green tomato benedict. Luckily, there are a few nifty techniques that make poaching eggs feasible for even the home cook. Hint: steam the eggs in a muffin tin over a bath of water in the tilt skillet. After working with the kitchen staff through many different techniques, I certainly gained a new level of confidence in my culinary skills.
Overall, I am proud of all that we accomplished during our time at Riderwood. I am very pleased with our efforts to host such a unique New Orleans brunch for the residents. We received a lot of positive feedback from the surveys and staff. It would not have been such a success without the support of the residents and staff. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with the Riderwood staff and look forward to using my new skill set in the future.
Pictures from the brunch: