Generally speaking, we here at Heirloom Fire only take 1 event a weekend. To the average catering company that would sound insane as the average company takes a minimum of 3 events a day in the busy season.
Heirloom Fire is actually a very small business. We have our core group of cooks that travel with us like a family. Each cook knows their station and works every event to perfect their execution on their property. This is the reason that we absolutely only take 1 event per day, no exceptions. The client deserves the best we have to offer.
Every so often someone calls your phone and despite knowing the amount of extra work that will need to be tackled, you just can’t say no.
Not that long ago Il Posto Tuo (Del Posto’s offsite arm) did just that. The game plan was a large scale party for their client in Sag Harbor that would run on the theme of “Heaven and Hell”… I bet you can guess which one we were. The hitch was that we had a wedding the following day 3 hours in the opposite direction of this location.
Always one for a challenge, I gathered my team and we started planning all the logistics to get us there and set us up for success. Our goal is always to show people something they have never seen, therefor I wanted to design a new piece of equipment to unveil just for this event.
This event would take place on a Friday and cause us to set out on Thursday evening. All of the gear was packed in our truck, crew and gear into a transit van and we were off. We are accustomed to traveling long distances for events and to me its one of my favorite parts of the job. When onsite the team is truly focused on the task at hand, we make small, mostly nonsense conversations to pass the time, but the eye is always on the prize. Longer trips allow us to continue to bond as a family, tell stories, talk about the craziness that happened at past events and have a proper meal together.
Thankfully we avoided all the major traffic that everyone promised we would hit. We landed at our hotel to rest up for the unavoidable fires of our own creation that would await us the following day. The next morning while catching the elevator I overheard 2 woman talking about President Trump being in Long Island today, which spoke to me TRAFFIC. With us, timing is everything as we are cooking EVERYTHING on site. The doors opened… The first person I see is an officer with a Secret Service patch on her chest having a breakfast sandwich in the lounge. I thought that was odd. As I started surveying the rest of the room, more and more people starting appearing with black polos, military grade pants all geared up and looking very serious. We had to hit the road, so we checked out and left. On the way out the door there were several officers walking with German Shepherds. As we departed, we heard over the Radio that Trump was to be in the next town over and again, we were lucky to have missed any traffic.
We arrived onsite to a truly beautiful property. We slowly rolled by an enormous patch of mowed grass with around 15 people setting up several lines of large mortars. This team you could tell was going to bring something very special later in the evening.
72 hours before the party, the weather looked as though it was going to rain ALL DAY. Doing the best to deliver the party, Del Posto was given instruction to “make this party monsoon proof”. Thankfully, 12 hours out, it looked as though the weather was going to break. We can cook under tents during heavy rain, though its not particularly pleasant as smoke likes to rise, however, a tent gives no other exit than to come back down on to us cooks and slowly crawl across to underbelly of the tent.
We were to set up on the clients tennis court that was slated to be completely renovated. In an effort to minimize the effects, we ended up putting down some protective boards as well as sod for the aesthetic element.
After our brief walk through, we struck and began laying out the kitchen. Today was a big menu. We are used to owning the entire event - welcome hour to break down - so it was easy to let the idea that this may be “easy” percolate in our minds.
A 90 lb leg of beef, 6 18 lb red snappers, a 80 lb roasting pig, 40 hand spun chickens, 2 whole lambs and a slew of vegetable dishes were on our docket as well as hearth fired breads. This was a HOT event, without question. This was a day that challenged even the most seasoned of my cooks, but we pushed through.
As with most events we are a part of, the timeline had to be pushed back as the guests did indeed hit that promised traffic.
Upon arrival, the guests were greeted by god himself as he ushered them through the pearly marble gates to “Heaven”. Their experience began with refreshments, heavenly light hors duevres and a white, flowing atmosphere with couches and draped linen. When it was time for the main event, ACDC’s “Hell’s Bell’s” smashed on to the speakers throughout the property. We stoked our fires as hot and smokey as we could get them to give the guests our version of a greeting.
Much to my surprise this gathering was a costume party. I saw Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Kahl Drogo (of Game of Thrones) with his Love Kaleesi. Crowds oh guests poured through the entrance - Angels, Devils, Priests and nuns all grabbing their plates to meet us face to face as we carved furiously.
Shortly there after, 2 woman appeared behind us and began performing an elaborate fire dance with juggling and fire breathing.
The host made a brief but heartfelt speech exuding gratitude for his friends and family and invited everyone to the yard outside of the dinner tent to enjoy the fireworks show that was to be done by Grucci. Well, to me this meant nothing, I am ignorant when it comes fireworks. I have seen many mediocre events so I have kind of checked out. One of the cooks immediately perked up with an expletive and said “Grucci”?!
He then proceeded to educate me on the background of the pyros pros but I still was not sold.
We went and took our place on the field, our backs thanking us profusely for this momentary pause. The first test shots from mortars went off rather blandly. I leaned over to said to the cook “this better be good”. Again, The gonging of bells came over the loudspeakers as Angus Young shredded the guitar, the show was about to begin. I sat there like a kid having his eyes opened for the first time for over 30 minutes as I witnessed the most amazing fireworks display I had ever attended. The explosions were perfectly timed with an expertly selected soundtrack. Likely the tastiest piece of humble pie I had eaten in a while.
Still feeling the thunder in our chests, we stood up, stuck our gear down and began the journey to High Falls to bring together another flawless event. But that my friends is a story for another time…stay tuned.