The wedge, it is my favorite salad on any menu. Because of the crisp iceberg lettuce? Because of the fresh juicy tomatoes? Or maybe it’s the bacon fat and rich creamy dressing. The National’s wedge salad is a delicious combination of flavors. The base is your typical iceberg lettuce, but then it is topped with crispy bacon, thin red onions, roasted bell peppers, and tomatoes. Then it is finished off with their famous Buttermilk Dressing. Yummy! The dressing exceeds every generic and mediocre ranch or blue cheese dressing out there, it is a combination of flavors that makes their wedge unique.
I began the dressing by combing sour cream and mayonnaise. Then, I thinned the thick mixture with buttermilk until it was nice and creamy, not too soupy, but dripped off the spoon. Then I added the seasonings: fresh dill and parsley. Chopped chive, some celery seed, smoked paprika, and then salt and pepper, of course. I mixed it all up and tasted it, then added a touch more salt and little bit more paprika, until it was perfect. I made some for the lunch service and then was asked to make some for catering, that’s when my day changed.
I happily made another batch of the dressing, as tasting this recipe is not painful at all! But then I was informed I would be working on a catering for 100 people the rest of the day! I have not worked on a catering for more than 30 people before. So, I took a look at the catering and got to work.
I started by making spiced nuts with the pastry chef. We coated local pecans in an egg whites, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and a little bit of cinammon. Then we put them on a sheet tray in popped them in the oven for 8 minutes. They turned out sweet with a hint of spicy, delicious!
The rest of my day was spent working on one of the National’s famous appetizers, stuffed dates. The tedious part about this recipe is pitting the dates. And when we are talking 100 people, that means 180 dates. Plus, one of the chefs asked me to do an extra quart for their station. That took some time and wasn’t too interesting. The dates are sticky and make it complicated to work quickly. Once I had those finished, I worked on the stuffing, celery and Manchego cheese. Slicing that much cheese into perfect rectangles was exhausting. Luckily, I had help with the celery. They have hired a new chef who I tried to help out on his second day. He helped me cut the celery into small strips and then fill the dates with the cheese and strips. Once we had our assembly line down it took no time at all.
I like working on caterings because it is all my responsibility. The other chefs have to prep and work their stations, while I typically float between them helping where I can. But, when I get a catering I have to do the work or delegate it to the others. Most of the time I can handle it, but when it is an order for 100 people, you have to get help, otherwise you will spend hours bored and pitting dates.