Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fun Catering for 195 Hungry Friends

Last weekend - or was it two weekend ago? Bob and I were in charge of food for the 2010 Cleveland Area Mensa Regional Gathering ("RG"), which was a party "So Superior, it's Eerie!" We had a total of 195 people in the house (actually, a local hotel) for a weekend of food, fun, speakers, games, tournaments, friends, a dunk tank and book sale to raise money for the David Jaquet Scholarship Fund, and so much more. It was exhausting and exhilarating, fun and silly. And we raised a lot of money for the Scholarship Fund, which honors the late David Jaquet, a former President and activist in our Mensa chapter, and which offers scholarships available to any student enrolling in higher level education through an essay contest (you do NOT need to be a member of Mensa to qualify, and the national contest has additional scholarship opportunities available - check out info here).

The prep had begun weeks in advance of the event. One of our members was able to obtain an obscene quantity of lunch meats, bacon, kielbasa and hot dogs through her mom's place of employment. When she got redeployed due to her fiance's good fortune (he won an all-expense-paid trip to NYC the weekend of our event) - Bob and I swooped in to collect the bounty from her basement. It all just barely fit in our outbuilding's refrigerator, consuming both the fridge and freezer compartments:

Our Mensa-member farmers, owners of Mr. G’s Produce, 13213 Arlington Road, Norwalk Ohio, provided some gorgeous winter squashes, which I turned into 8 quarts of delicious soup:

Garden-Based Vegetable Stock Simmers 

Sadly, I neglected to get a photo of the final product. The squash halves were dusted with salt and pepper and brushed with melted butter, then roasted in a slow oven until tender. The insides were scraped out and blended with the finished veggie stock, then frozen. After reheating for service, a bit of heavy cream was added. It was heavenly.

Nick and Kelley also provided Eggplant a couple of weeks in advance of the event, which was prepped a few days before service.

Though it lacked the intense smokiness that a charcoal fire would have added, Amir's Tahini gave this babaganoush so much flavor and a touch of smokey tones:

Sadly, the only meal I got any photos of was Friday dinner - it just got too insane after that. In addition to the squash soup and baba, we served:

Lots of Cold Cuts - with Bread - at every meal!

Ham and Noodles, provided by a longtime member who always brings something yummy to the RG!

Keeping with our "Eerie" theme for the dinner, these blurry meatballs were called "Lake Erie Monster Eyeballs" - each had a single, strategically placed pea. Or at least they did, until they were tossed with the "Vinegar Splashed Meatball" sauce. Oh well.

"Soylent Green" aka Urban Herbs's Spinach Cous Cous with Lemon and Mint

Salad Bar - Lettuce and Tomatoes from our wonderful farmers!

More Salad Fixings: Plain Tuna, Farmers' Radishes (2 types) and Cucumbers, Mushrooms and Shredded Cheese

Vegan Chili, made by another RG Volunteer cook

We had other fabulous soups, Garlic Chicken and roasted Kielbasa, Tortellini Salad with Farmers' Tomatoes and Broccoli, Sushi, St. Josephat's Pierogies and Koko Bakery Pork Buns, plus beautiful and tasty cakes and other desserts made by our wonderful volunteers - so many delicious and beautiful  foods that I failed to photograph because I was too, um, busy. But there is one more photo.

Chocolate Covered Bacon with Almonds a la Iron Chef Michael Symon

We had lots of Chocolate Covered Bacon (milk and dark Belgian chocolate - thank you Caren and the Pittsburgh RG!). People seem to either love it or hate it, but it's become a Cleveland RG staple as much as our root beer floats, with craft brewed root beer.

As always, we had great fun feeding the masses, though we did suffer a casualty on our home stove when an igniter shorted out after tortellini cooking water splashed (AC Plumbing, Heating and Mechanical will complete that repair tomorrow - thank you Tony Caruso!). A great time for a great cause - we love feeding our many friends at these events! But much as I love doing this, at the end of the weekend, my feet remind me that I'm not ready to quit my day job yet.


  1. Great write up, Nancy! I'm looking forward to this event the next time it comes around to Cleveland.

  2. Looks like a lot of damn work to me. And to think I bitched about last year's Thanksgiving.

  3. Nancy, you and Bob pulled off another MAH-VELOUS spread of which I was delighted to have partaken!