Over my many years of catering, I have had the privilege of witnessing grand events while providing the service of equally remarkable food for those attending. This is one reason why every year I look forward to the annual bonfire weekend and this year may have been the best private firework performance I have seen yet.
We arrived in Eastbourne around midday. Since we do not freeze our fresh food, the morning had been spent preparing the ingredients and equipment for the client’s meal to guarantee the highest quality of food. Today’s meal comprised of succulent whole lamb, roasted on a spit, our famous roast potatoes, known for their crispy exterior and their fluffy centre and lightly buttered baby carrots. Accompanying the meal was our hand-prepared coleslaw with a dash of citrus, three-colour pasta salad and a sumptuous variety of bread rolls.
As we arrived at the house we looked in awe at the impressive view that awaited us in the back garden, an extraordinarily picturesque combination of fields, trees, villages and horizon. The house was equally as magnificent with an in-house entertainment system that spanned every room and the patio, with a Jacuzzi lowered into the decking. In the garden sat a 14ft high bonfire, with guyfawks perched proudly on top. We knew that that point this display would make tonight a night to remember.
After taking in all there was to see, we started the preparation for the meal. First the lamb, studded with garlic and seasoned with rosemary and olive oil, needed to be cooked. This is a slow three-hour process where the lamb is rotated throughout the cooking stage to ensure and equal distribution of juices through all the meat. Next the roast potatoes needed to be timed perfectly to be ready with the rest of the meal, too early and they would lose their crispness, too late and they fail to crisp at all. But the head chef Steve is a veteran at this game. Unphased by the intricate timing required to pull of such a meal for 70 people, when it came to preparing the salads in the last twenty minutes before service we saw everything come together as we knew it would.
An hour into service the client informed us the fireworks display was about to start and invited us to watch. Four men, donning head torches and blowtorches carried out the fireworks to the garden. They lit the roman candles one after the other, then two at a time, then three and then four. The clear dark sky illuminated by an astonishing display of explosions, filling the air with trails of light brighter than the stars themselves. Rockets whizzed through the heavens and the explosions were felt on the ground by all. This impressive display lasted past 30 minutes and when it was over the crowd applauded. The men in charge of the display took a bow and we, still shell-shocked from the awesome display we had just witnessed, went to go pack up the equipment.
Guests came back after the display to tell us that they had enjoyed the food immensely and that they had enjoyed our food as much as the display itself, a testament to the effort and preparation that went into the meal. Before we left, the client already started discussing with us arrangements for next year. Looks like this will be the third year in a row we will be providing the catering at his party.