Partying and Catering
Posted on November 19, 2012
Sit around writing bullshit long enough, and something will turn up. This is what I hoped, and this is sort of what happened, resulting in a week spent in locations where they usually set slasher movies. In the space of a week, I cooked dinner for varying numbers in a beach house on the Kent coast, an ex-US airbase in Suffolk and a basement flat in Victoria Park. Of course, the last of these isn’t very slashery, but I reckon plenty of people get stabbed round those ends.
So the week begins with 24 hours in a beach house, all expenses paid by my former employers, a trio of Kiwi entrepreneurs who make the best woodfired pizza in London. My part in the whole thing was to make dinner for the gang, 10 hungry mouths prepping for a couple of days of smashing by the sea. ‘Burnt Ends’ was the plan, but meat issues ensued and I settled for BBQ roast beef and a coconut slaw to go with it. I also fed souls with polenta fried chicken; booze-mouths love oil and salt, fact. With this as our base, we went to drink all kinds of fine beers and cocktails, had some smokey capers with cones and fireworks and danced like babies dipped in MDMA.
I woke up fully clothed, with pictures of me half-naked scrolling on a laptop. Things went far. There was a guy just getting out of the bath, whilst I could barely talk or stand. He was only just heading to bed, his night had been of beats and booze and spliffs and bathing. I’d stayed dry, enjoyed the fireworks and was seemingly been too pissed to even skin up; the contents of a tabletop form an early afternoon re-roll. As the spirits seized me and the day unfolded, we went crabbing, wandered a foggy beach and drank gin from mugs. After some time spent on shale sands we had, no crabs, an unconfirmed Bigfoot sighting and a pebble shaped like a dick.
All of this is caper is barely out of my system when I have to start a new job; this time I’m pretending to be a caterer for a short film. Before I can fully shake off the dregs of my beach coma, I’m driving into the Suffolk countryside to cook on location. The shoot is on various locations around a HUGE old airbase, which means nights spent in an old barracks, wanderings of abandoned buildings, and a bit of Clarksoning about on runways.
The whole thing is mainly just an awful slog of being awake for 19 hours a day and cooking for most of it. I’d hate to see my face when frying sausage and eggs at 5am. I longed to sit in a pub with my soft wife and do nothing but drink and squeeze. The only solace I found was in the decent people on the crew, which I unsurprisingly bonded with over a love of weed. As much as the airbase was cold and dark, there’s something good in getting stoned and staring at stars in utter stillness. I also find it rewarding to exchange ideas and contemplate the state of EVERYTHING with a near-stranger.
Anyway, as the assistant to the girl catering the film, I don’t really get my time to shine ‘til the last day, when we’re back in London on a night shoot in the industrial bowels of Hackney Wick, with what seems to be a café/PC repair shop as HQ. The food is cooked in a nearby flat and I have to draw on all of my knowledge of making something from nothing. It’s Ready Steady Cook all over again, only I’m not sat around in my semen-stained housepants, I’m making a midnight meal for 30 people.
The dregs of our supplies have to come together to entertain tired tongues and fuel the final night of the shoot. I pulled together a Spanish omelette using paprika potatoes, roast onions and fresh tomatoes for the first meal of the day, which caused all kinds of trouble due to it’s scale. Still, I make it a little wanky by only sticking to Spanish flag colours, even roasting the onions in turmeric. It goes down well the cast and crew, feeding all but one person, but she’s a bitch anyway.
For this kind of zero-budget film, soups and stews are the only real way to feed the crew, so for my next trick I put together a ‘Moroccan’ chick pea stew. Butternut squash, onions, tomatoes, chick peas, cumin, garlic, cinnamon and some other shit all go into the biggest pot I can find (in a certain order, but nobody truly gives a fuck about ‘sweating down’ onions). I serve it with a mint and coriander cous cous and all is well, I’ve ticked boxes, which are pretty much to serve loads of food and it be edible and suitable for vegetarians. As a bonus, it’s fairly delicious too. I’m serving it in paper bowls, so presentation is thing of the past.
Just when I think life is good and this shit is easy, I decide to call my wife and check in. Multi-tasking, I wander down an alleyway outside of the café we’re based in, following some sweet street art. Mid-conversation my wife hears the thing nobody wants to hear when on the phone to a loved one,
‘Shit! Fuck!’ Followed by the muffled sounds of scrambling and shambling. My wife thought I was being attacked, but I was simply being chased by a guard dog that was luckily on a chain. Anyway, crisis over and it’s time to retire to some dish washing and supply moving.
Driving back across London at 3am, to slip in to bed with my girl that I’ve barely seen in weeks, I feel broken and relieved. I came up with the goods, but I’m still as lost as ever. Now for much time spent in the flat, to write and to plan food that costs as little to make as my tastebuds will allow. In these dark times, I have only two things to be happy about, firstly, the van is full of leftover veg that’s heading into my fridge and, secondly, I’ve met a dealer who sells decent ten bags.