======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
As we discussed on Tuesday’s Touching Base, Friendsgiving Season is upon us. Hosting an event like this can appear to be a daunting task (as illustrated here by Brian McGannon). I am here to help. Consider this a companion piece to Brian’s story and checklist of sorts designed to assist any party organizer.
The most important thing you can do to execute a successful Friendsgiving is to name an Executive Cuisine Curator for this event. This could be the host, but it doesn’t need to be. The ECC will be in charge of all culinary operations and also all food-related emails and correspondence in advance of the event. (Note: the host may send logistical emails and invites, but those must not include anything food related if host is not the ECC.)
Of course, we are assuming a potluck style event. At an absolute minimum, the ECC is in charge of the turkey and gravy. This includes carving, plating, arranging, and displaying the main protein. Ideally, the ECC will also take on another dish or two, depending on their culinary specialty.
The other major responsibility of the ECC is the assignment of side dishes, desserts, and booze. I suggest an introductory email and an editable google doc for assignment purposes.
Below is a sample email you should steal, tweak, and send to your party goers. If you are the ECC, email me at micah@grandex dot co and I’ll send you the google doc to share with your squad. I’ve also added some additional ECC tips after the email.
You are receiving this email because our very gracious friend _____ has offered their home to host this year’s Friendsgiving celebration. I have volunteered to be the Executive Culinary Curator. Please read this email in full, and see the google doc at the end for signups.
Here are a few simple rules, based off of severals years of experience.
If you don’t cook, or do not want to cook– that’s totally fine. Please bring booze (more on that later). The only thing I ask is that you do not buy anything pre-made from the grocery store. I know it seems like a nice gesture to bring some deli-counter macaroni salad, potato salad, or pre-made dressing/stuffing, but it just isn’t. Ideally, your party will have enough wonderful homemade things there that no one will touch the pre-made crap (don’t tell me, “But, ECC, it’s from Whole Foods and organic.” It tastes like shit, and no one cares.). Again, if you don’t cook or don’t want to, just bring booze. No one will judge you.
I will of course handle the turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce, as is any decent chef’s responsibility.
Lessons learned from previous events:
We are limited with kitchen space/oven/fridge room.
There will be multiple versions of every popular T-Day staple (this is a good thing!).
There will be leftovers.
There will be lots of dessert left over.
More people will arrive than we anticipate.
It will be a challenge to arrange entry to the location and park everyone.
Shit will get crazy.
The most important rule of this year’s event: Do not bring anything that is uncooked or MUST be heated. This home is lovely, but only has one oven (1st world problem). If you can bring your dressing straight out of the oven to the event, that’s great! If it sits on the counter and isn’t piping hot when we eat, that isn’t the end of the world. We will work smarter this year to keep things warm via coolers and other means, but do not bring a pie that must be baked, or sweet potatoes ready to roast for an hour when you arrive for the party.
GET CREATIVE! If you don’t use pinterest, you should at least know how to use google. Make a spicy and sweet yam dish, bring Asian-inspired Brussels sprouts, maybe a deconstructed green bean casserole. You get the idea. Have fun with it, or just bring booze.
Also, please keep presentation in mind. Bring your dish in something you can serve on the table in, or buy a $1 aluminum tray at the grocery to place it on when you arrive. Also, please remember that part of your dish is likely to be left-over, especially if it is a traditional dish that has duplicates. So feel free to bring bags or containers for leftovers.
Because this group is more likely to drink dessert than eat it, please consider a savory side as opposed to dessert if you are on the fence. If you want to make cookies, or the family pumpkin pie, please do! But again, bringing a sleeve of Oreos or Peperidge Farm cookies doesn’t make you thoughtful, it makes you an ass that brought something no one needed. Just bring booze instead.
OK, almost done now. The most important part:
Thanksgiving is the most American of all holidays. For this reason, please bring only wine, beer, and American Spirits (read: Bourbon). While locally made products like ______ and _____ are acceptable, a decent bottle of American made brown liquor will be welcomed at this event. Wine and beer are important too. Bring them. If you bring beer, PLEASE bring a cooler and ice!!! I cannot make this point strongly enough. The kitchen is a mess and the fridge will be the last place you would want to put beer anyway, as the door will open and close and nothing will get/stay cold. If you plan to drink beer, please bring it in a cooler with ice.
Like this email, this event will take some time and effort for those hosting and putting it on. Please be kind to our host ______. The effort required to bring a cooler and fill it with ice, bring ready-to-serve items, and be friendly to the host is not too much for a group of fully-functioning adults. A few minutes of pre-planning can make a big difference when the shit hits the fan and the chaos erupts.
As with past years, I will put together a live-stream of the preparations to entertain everyone while at work Friday and perhaps Saturday as well.
Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have or run ideas by me if you like. Anyone who wants to help with logistics and planning is welcome!
You’re dear friend, and Executive Culinary Curator,
Some additional notes for the ECC:
- There is no need to roast your own turkey. If you want to, by all means go ahead. However, no one will complain if you buy a bird from a local smokehouse or BBQ restaurant. As long as the ECC carves the bird at the event, no one will care. It is important to do some planning as I have attended a Friendsgiving with a pre-cooked bird that was not totally defrosted at serving time.
- Bring your own knives and cutting boards. I cannot stress this enough. You cannot depend on your host to have proper utensils. Make sure to do a walk through the day before and bring anything you need. Carving the bird is challenging enough with a large, hungry crowd. Carving with a dull, shitty knife on an undersized cutting board is the worst.
- Also, I’m serious about the live stream. Assuming a Saturday night party, take Friday off to prep. Set up a periscope/instagram live/ustream feed and share it with the p
partygoers. Trust me, they’ll get a kick out of watching you chop onions and make gravy. Be a hero for once in your life, ok?
- The ECC should pour their first drink exactly 1 hour prior to the party’s start. And make it a Bourbon. Extra points for Wild Turkey.