Ray came by tonight and asked me a favor that turned out to be a favor for me. He asked if I'd cater Beef and Molly's wedding. Carte blanche, all food and service expenses paid, any new equipment I needed to make it happen out of his kitchen. The wedding and reception are in the back yard, so it's all self-contained. I figure that since it's a blank check, he's not doing it to save money. He's doing it because he knows I want to learn how to cook in volume. Sometimes I think he's some chump eating creamed twenties with a side of ribs, but then he'll pop in with a double-sided gesture like this. As he would say, "Daaamn. I did that god-damned brains style."
Here's how our conversation went. I was in my room listening to old LPs with the headphones on, on my bed, both eyes closed.
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RAY: [Walks in and starts air-tapping on my chest with pretend drumsticks]
ME: [Eyes closed, catches the smell of Marlboro Lights] Ray? Is that you?
RAY: Hell yes, doggie!
ME: I thought you quit smoking?
RAY: I...come on, dude! I ain't here to talk about that!
ME: You have any left?
RAY: [Looks side to side, fishes in his pocket] Let's go outside. A ways.
[Soon, outside, walking around.]
ME: [exhaling satisfying smoke] So, what's up?
RAY: [exhaling] Got a favor to ask from you, hoss. Cookin' thing.
ME: Really? What? You working on a sauce? Fish?
RAY: You know Beef and Molly gettin' married, right? You be interested in doin' the cookin'? No mini-quiche and no stuffed mushrooms at all, that kind of thing?
ME: ...Wow. You serious?
RAY: I'm as serious as a...uh...a milk company, dude.
RAY: Sorry, man. That one completely fell apart.
ME: Oh. So, I get to do the menu and hire a staff and cook everything myself? Do real volume cooking?
RAY: Yeah, dude. Pretty much. Wouldn't that be cool? Like I said, open budget. Get me a menu tomorrow afternoon. [Slaps my shoulder, stubs his ash, mentions a tennis date he has to keep, and heads for his car, which is parked nearby on the other side of a clump of trees.]
ME: I...cool man, thanks for— [the sound of Ray's Caddie engine turning over] ...for the opportunity.
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So there you have it. He didn't even stay around for the thanks. He just knew I'd dig it, he'd done his thing, and he was off to the club.
Maybe I'll do a tasting menu, with one dish based on each of Beef's main friends. I'll keep you posted. This is going to take some brainpower.