Ambitious is something that I am comfortable being called. Since the beginning of Heirloom Fire I have been pushing things, people and myself. Well, I would call lining up a 300 person wedding in Maryland followed by two parties in Tennessee with just a week in between ambitious. It’s funny when you plan these things out a year in advance and then when these events come to be, how very different it plays out.
One week of solid rain greeted us as we entered the state of Maryland. We arrived on location fresh from the road to walk the site with the planner. My truck team arrived before us with the trucks packed to the roofs with steel. I spoke to one of the drivers and they told me they were pulled over on the side of a make shift road and that there were crews there, literally building a road for us to get to the location. This was a first for me.
As we walked to the tent, water splashed by the cupfuls to dampen the hems of our pants. Due to the rain, we had to alter the location of the kitchen which meant schlepping one and a half cords of wood 100 yards to higher ground. Thankfully this was a fully functioning farm equipped with John Deere Gators and tractors. We took full advantage of using the vehicles as we hustled the wood to its new home. This is what I love about traveling with my crew - everyone gets their hands dirty; No one left behind. As I powered through the worsening mud with the ATV, I passed a 6 person Gator with Magdalena driving and five giggly front of house team members and a gator full of wood. Some of those folks I am sure would never have thought they’d even come close to encountering this in their lives, which isn’t surprising, because neither did I.
I finally hooked up with the guys in the truck, but the trucks were no where to be seen. There were many more truckloads of gravel to come before we were even close. In the end, 70 dump truck loads of gravel were laid down.
Once we finally collected the last piece we carefully tucked the wood in with tarps to prepare it for the big day ahead of it the next day We headed back to our hotel, washed up, and went to Foraged Eatery for our family dinner in Downtown Baltimore - I highly recommend it.
The following day the rain only got worse. Thankfully, the newly built road brought us much closer, but we still had about 30 yards to travel to where our kitchen would be. As the guys headed down the makeshift road they were greeted with a 27 foot box truck thats tires were buried halfway in the mud, but was in the process of being pulled out by a tractor.
As we watched this happening, we made a bit of a game plan but were prepared to face the music of getting stuck. While our truck crept down the road, all I could hear was the sound of crushing gravel and mud collapsing under the weight of the thousands of pounds of steel and gear. Ten cooks stood 30 yards away watching and waiting like stallions at the gates, ready to unload and build our kitchen. Time is king when it comes to events. More often than not, the timeline has been planned for months out and there is very little wiggle room. With that said, when hiccups like this occur it can have serious effects for us. Luckily, the truck made its turn, backed up to the edge of the gravel and came to an abrupt stop. The second trucked pulled in and followed suit. The doors flew open and the boys jumped out - it’s go time.
Just like that this mud laden field became a highway buzzing with ATVs, tractors and bodies running back and forth. First the tents go up, then the pantry. Tables and ovens then follow with the deep boom of our flame thrower coming to life to start the fires. There we worked for thirteen hours, shin deep in mud, roasting two legs of beef, fifty chickens and a mountain of beautiful vegetables. The kitchen was essentially surrounded by a moat. A few brave souls made the trip to investigate what we were up to, but for the majority of the people, the voyage was just too choppy. Side note: I am always surprised/impressed with folks that know full well what weather they are walking into, but they are determined to wear those heels anyway because they look good.
The wedding was a success. The newly crowned husband and wife embraced the circumstances the weather brought, as did the guests. I walked into the tent across the astro turf covered plywood (feeling the mud squish under the boards) just in time to see guests dancing on the floor, laughing and embracing each other as one of the front house staff walks past pushing a floor squeegee. Now, it’s time to pack it all up. At this point in the night, especially after the hand we were dealt, you really see what your team is made of.
Mine? Solid Iron. Just as fast as we set up the kitchen, they began striking it down. In pitch black we trekked across this mud slicked battlefield, loading both trucks back up. Lets just say the bed (and shower) never felt so good.
Next up? Two events in Tennessee. Meaning, we have two days to get back, unload, wash up and prepare the things needed for our next journey.
To be continued…