Delawareans weren’t the only folks celebrating Delaware Day! Apparently, our fine Senators and Congressman also celebrated the day Delaware became the first state to ratify the Federal Constitution on December 7th 1897, thus making Delaware the first state in the New Nation. As part of the celebratation, Kristin Mcguigan, executive Chef & General Manager of The Backburner, was invited to Washington to represent Delaware by preparing the Senators and Congressman a Meal to remember. I was lucky enough to chat with Chef Kristin about the day; who was there, what they ate etc…
So, tell me how did this opportunity came to pass; were they asking for proposals from various restaurants or were you singled out?
A couple months ago I recieved a call from Chris Coon’s office expressing how much Senator Coons enjoyed my food at the Back Burner. They were wondering if I would accompany Senator Coons to Washington to celebrate Delaware Day by cooking for the Senate. Obviously, I was over the moon excited to be asked to do such an event. I’m not much into politics, but it seemed like a fun event so I agreed. Over the next month or so I kept in touch with his office ,trying to get more details about how many people would be in attendence, if the president would be there and all that good stuff.
Who were you feeding & was the President and/or Vice President a part of the celebration?
The week before the event I received a call telling me that there would be around 100 people and that the President and Vice President may show for the event (I got even more excited)! We ended up cooking for about 150 people from Senators, Congressman, and other political figures that I would have no clue who they were..Unfortunately, the President and VP were not in that crowded room of people. It was still an amazing experience for both my staff and me. I got to meet all different politicians, it was so fun…One guy stood because he was so nice & he really liked the kangaroo was Democratic Senator Inouye from Hawaii.
How many staff members did you need to handle an event of this size and nature?
I brought my strongest team with me, the plating of the dish was pretty tricky so I wanted all hands on deck, leaving behind 2 strong cooks to handle the restaurant.
Was there a state of the art kitchen for you to work out of?
We were directed to the room that the event would be held in and started setting up. We were given long tables to decorate with any restaurant promotional stuff (kinda like at Best of Delaware, or Farmer and the Chef) we were also given work tables to cook our food. We were not provided with any cool kitchen to set up in, we brought cassette burners and torches.
What was on the Menu? Quantity of items you needed to prepare based on the number of guests? How long did it take you to prepare?
I played with a few different dish ideas trying to think of a dish that would make both myself and the Back Burner shine. My sous chef and I decided that kangaroo was the way to go; both sexy and tasty 🙂 The night before the event was when all of the prepping occurred . We had 20lbs of kangaroo loin that we cleaned up so the sear would be cylinder like for plating, cracked the pink peppercorns down and crusted them, we hung all of the meat in the walk in and got down to the plating of the dish. Coring 15 lbs of chilean cherries was definitley not the way I wanted to spend my evening, but it was so worth it. We used the rendered duck fat that we had reserved to poach the cherries (delicious ending flavor and an awesome smell), we also spent the night shredding potatoes for the frittes. At about 2am we called it a night and got a few hours of sleep. Back to the restaurant at 9am to get the rest of the prep done. We pre-portioned the frittes into 1 oz portions, made a tasty sweet pea and parsley emulsion, and pulled down our Kangaroo. Then we loaded the truck up..the food was set, now it was just a matter of getting to Washington in one piece
Any good stories about the day that you can share?
We thought we were ahead of schedule until we got lost in Washington for about an hour..(gps does not work well in Washington, neither do the cops). When we finally reached the Hart building (location of event) we were greeted by Homeland Security and those dogs that smell for bombs. Our vehicle was searched and we were put through security equipment as well…We drove through an x-ray machine of sorts and finally were allowed to enter.
Did you have any problems getting your equipment/knives through the detectors?
I did not have a problem getting my knives through, because I had them locked in a tackle box. They did inspect the box, but it didn’t raise any red flags or give me any problems. 🙂
How did the day end?
We got everything packed up and we walked away from our equipment to get our car. When we came back, the gate was closed and we had to wait over an hour for homeland security to come back with the dog and go through all of our stuff again so we could get leave. That was not the most fun wait since it was raining. I couldn’t believe how strict they are on security, it was almost unreal.
That pretty much sums up the day. Awesome food, met some really fun people, and now I have a sparked interest in politics which I have never had before. All and all a great day! I got to wake up the following morning and prep all over again for an event for Meals on Wheels, where I did a demo. This business is non stop!
Description of the dish:
Pink Peppercorn crusted Kangaroo Loin with Yukon gold potato fritte, topped with duck fat poached chilean cherry, finished with sweet pea and parsley emulsion,squid ink paint and finished with crispy micro sage