Denise sent me a story and some photos of an event she recently hosted. I found it inspiring, humourous and fun. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. This story serves as a perfect example of leadership and supports the theory the that it is impossible to lead if you aren't passionate about what you are doing.
Thanks Denise for taking the time to share--no doubt others will be inspired as well.
Sunday, July 24, 2011 – Mission Accomplished
If you know me it’s no secret the main appliance I use in my kitchen is my microwave to reheat food that I got from eating out the night before. In fact, I lived in my house for over a month without a stove or oven – not kidding. I realize this is not a good thing.
I sat down and started to reflect on my positions in the Junior League of Tampa (JLT). I noticed that The League is determined to have me in the kitchen. Last year I was the Kids in the Kitchen Chair and this year I’m one of the Cookbook Co-Chairs. I thought about it more and both of these positions have been MY FIRST CHOICES; therefore, it’s not The League that wants me in the kitchen I obviously subconsciously want to be there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve never hosted a dinner or lunch, etc. but I realized I have been fortunate enough to always date men who love to cook. I just figured I would be on permanent dish duty forever. I’m now single and realize that I need to work on my MRS skills and start to take charge and ownership of this quest I obviously want to go on.
I decided to give myself my first mission: host a brunch. I had to decide my first victims, I mean guests, carefully. I needed to choose people that would be honest with me, ones I could potentially cook dishes that were complete flops for but would also challenge my ability. After much thought I choose my good friend Sarah Herbling, who spent a month with me in Brazil (after that trip you either love the people you are with or hate them), Michelle Bremer (one of my dearest friends for the past fourteen years and after-college roommate) and I was very daring with my last invite. I thought about inviting her to another mission, once I had some practice but then I reconsidered and thought why not bring in the big guns in the beginning? I’ll really find out if I’m on the right track or not by having her taste my food and she’ll be honest, so I made the call: Mrs. Aspen Kahl. In my opinion Aspen Kahl is the host of all hosts. Every party she has is pristine, detailed oriented and picture perfect – literally. It’s one guest list everyone wants to be on. Besides being fortunate enough to be a guest at her events a number of times through out the years, she is my other half on the Cookbook Committee, the other Cookbook Co-Chair and very good friend. She has been warning me that at the first Cookbook Committee meeting I would have to say my favorite dish that I’ve cooked from the cookbooks… I think she keeps warning me knowing FULL WELL I have cooked NOTHING from them. From a leadership perspective, how can I help lead more than 40 women to sell something that I have no knowledge of? I have to get to know the product, period. The guests confirmed and I have to say with this line up I was nervous but it was all so much fun and exciting at the same time! The date was locked in on the calendar.
I woke up the Saturday morning before the big event and pulled out all of The JLT cookbooks. I poured over them for hours trying to determine the best brunch menu I could come up with. I choose the following:
- Champagne Lime Cooler (Capture the Coast, pg. 31)
- Brie with Herbs in a Baguette (EveryDay Feasts, pg. 27)
- Asparagus Pecan Stack (The Life of the Party, pg. 64)
- Strawberry Spinach Salad (Savor the Seasons, pg. 39)
- Mushroom Frittata (Savor the Seasons, pg. 95)
- Fresh Orange Sherbet (Capture the Coast, pg. 118)
I have to be honest, when I choose the Fresh Orange Sherbet I truly had no idea how I was going to make it but I thought I would put it on the list and go from there. I entered my kitchen and started looking at my sparse kitchen counter space and thought I really need to purchase a rolling island. There was no way I could cook everything I needed to at my house so I headed over to a kitchen that I could borrow, my parent's.
I got there, made my grocery list and realized I was now going to spend hours in the grocery store given I had no idea where the items were kept and I wasn’t familiar with the store at all. Luckily my mother offered to go with me to the store.
Once everything was bought I headed home and started on my quest. The rules were no short cutting anything and my mother could observe and add comments but not do anything. She said fine, sat at the kitchen table and enjoyed her glass of sauvignon blanc watching me work away, must have been nice.
I reviewed all of the recipes and realized that by complete chance everything I choose could be prepared at least the day/night before. This was great news especially given I did not want to worry about having to cook everything in the morning! I looked at the prep time of all the dishes and decided to start with the sherbet. Once I told my mother how I wanted to create this tasty dessert but I had no idea how to pull it off, she said, “I’ll call Connie – if anyone has an ice cream maker it would be her.” Ah, Mrs. Galbraith. Mrs. Galbraith is the cook of all cooks on the street I grew up on, San Mateo – another Aspen in regards to cooking. Of course she would have one!
I made the mix and started to grate the orange peel. Let’s just say the grater won. My whole thumb was bleeding (the peels were spared) and I thought great, I have to take a time out to mend a cooking wound on my first dish. This could be a long day. While the sherbet was mixing I began the brie with herbs in a baguette. Once I figured out how the recipe was telling me how to cut the bread (remember I am only a beginner) it was a pretty easy dish to make. My favorite part was making sure the bread was smashed like a Cuban sandwich.
From there I just kept going. It seemed to take some time but luckily I was drinking wine. I have a new appreciation for items that help you prepare the food. For example, I used my mom’s chopper so I immediately went out and bought one. Using only knifes would have drove me crazy. I was so exhausted by the time I completed everything I stayed the night at my parent’s house and went to bed.
I woke up early the next morning to head home, clean my place, bake the frittata and get the last details completed. The guests arrived and they were all pleasantly surprised. They enjoyed everything that was made and I have to say it felt good to be able to say how the food was prepared. I felt like I now know the jargon of a secret club I wasn’t in before. They left that afternoon stating that I had earned my ‘M.’
Mission accomplished until next month. I’ve decided to invite the close guy friends of mine to dinner. I figure if I really want to work on my MRS skills I have to let the guys let me know if I’m heading in the right direction or not. Until then happy cooking!
If you are marketing a cookbook, what about the job are you passionate about?