Working Together to Create a Memorable Meal

by Jen Wanous

A Japanese and Peruvian fusion meal was the culminating experience of my culinary education, thus far.  As part of our final, our culinary cohort of eight had to plan a dinner for 100.  The dinner ran smoothly and Annie even ate the seaweed and cherry spring roll.  Coming from the event planning world, I know that these types of gatherings take a lot of front loading. The pay offs are all in the smiles of your guests, as you stack chairs and save flower arrangements.

As the co-team leader of the group, I had the tricky job of facilitating consensus, or at least majority  (as the NY State Senate can attest, it is a possible task).  With eight refined and diverse pallets, we managed to come up with a sophisticated and flavorful meal for our guests.  Through the process, I was reminded of some basic yet profound approaches to working with others.  Although it is a struggle to follow these guidelines at all times, they have helped me to keep perspective in a wide array of situations.

1.  Have integrity with what you say.  Avoid gossiping and say only what you mean.

2.  Don’t take anything personally.  Nothing others do is because of you.  You never know what someone is dealing with from their past, or even what just happened that morning for them.

3.  Don’t make assumptions.  Express what you really want and communicate clearly with others to avoid misunderstandings.

4.  Always do your best.   You can always do your best. This applies to the hard stuff as well as simply taking good care of yourself.

These are adapted from the Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz.  You can find the book by clicking here.  

Here are some pictures of our team on the night of the dinner.

Citrus Salad with Daikon

This salad was served as an appetizer for our dinner.  Its tangy sweetness is the perfect light pallet pleaser for summer.  If you don’t feel up for the pickle, just leave it out.  Enjoy!

Pickle:

1/4 pound daikon, thinly sliced

1/2 cup golden balsamic (or apple cider vinegar)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Salad:

1 pink grapefruit

2 oranges

1 fennel, very thinly sliced

1/4 pound micro greens

Dressing:

1 lemon, juiced

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Place daikon on a paper towel and salt generously.  Set aside for about 45 mins.  Blot dry, in a small bowl, add vinegar and salt, set aside for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

2. Peel and thinly slice grapefruit and oranges into 1/8 inch thick round circles.

3.  Make the vinaigrette by combining the lemon and mustard and slowly drizzling in the olive oil while whisking.  (remember the slow drizzle while whisking is key to a good dressing. ;)

4.  Toss the micro greens with the dressing to coat.  Lay out the the slices of grapefruit and orange, layer with the fennel and pickled daikon.  Top with the dressed micro greens.

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