Growing up, my parents required us to be home for each meal. As we got older and more involved in school activities and sports, their grip loosened up but meals created the foundation of our family. A place to connect, share and even just sit in each other’s presence. It’s one of the reasons that I started cooking.
This past weekend, I got to cook for a group of 20 adults and 20 children at Leonard Lake Reserve. I was brought in by my best friend that I grew up with. Josh was there during those foundational years of childhood and now nearly forty years later, we are still sharing meals and creating more memories.
Food always tastes better in a great setting and Leonard Lake Reserve was no exception. The reserve is at the end of the road in Mendocino County and is the largest natural lake in Mendocino. Access is limited to guests, which makes for an incredibly intimate and private gathering.
Menu design for longer term, remote gatherings like these can be nerve wracking. Running out of something means an three hour odyssey to the nearest grocery store and back. Kids present an even bigger X factor. What if we run out of milk?!?! It’s in times like these that I have to remind myself that going without isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We are not going to starve.
I knew going into this that I was committed to buying local and organic when possible, antibiotic free meats and to making most by hand. To me, this is the beauty of a longer term catering gig, there’s time to bake the bread, make the bagels, create the scones… and it’s a rare treat in this day and age to get a chance to eat these things straight out of the oven.
Looking back at the weekend, I can still hear the tinkling of children’s laughter drifting up from the lake as they tried to fit as many kids as possible on the stand up paddle board, I can hear the pitter patter of feet crossing the dining room as one kid and then another… and then one other cross the dining room looking for brownies and I can soak up the contented smile of a parent happy to get out of the city for a spell and just relax.
I’m a lucky guy to be able to play a role in providing nourishment to such memory making.