A Catering Day

6:00 AM

Arrive at the restaurant, pack a few things into the van. Luckily there is another couple going and they have room in the car for me. Last time I sat in between the two front seats of the van on a wooden chair.

6:15 AM

Depart for Niagara-on-the-Lake. Should take three hours.

A Catering Day

Early mornings = blech.

9:55 AM

At a traffic light, Chef’s son hops out of their van and runs our wrist bans and parking pass to us.

A Catering Day


10:20 AM

After stopping for gas, doing a last-minute Wal-Mart shop for bristol board and some odds and ends we are on site in the cue for parking.

A Catering Day

The grounds in the distance.

10:50 AM

Stuff is unpacked and site is set up. 4 rocket’s hooked up to propane tanks, a big deep fryer hooked up to propane. All the raw ingredients are there ready to be cooked but we can’t light anything until the site fire inspector checks our gear and gives us the OK.

A Catering Day

Deep fryer.

11:00 AM

We can’t wait any longer for the inspector to show up, we light two burners and start cooking two huge pots of chili: one meat, one vegetarian. The deep fryer is also lit.

A Catering Day

Big pots on portable burners.

11:23 AM

The fire inspector shows up, notices that we’ve already lit our stuff but lets it slide. He understands we only have so much time before the gates open and we need to be ready. He paints the seals of the propane tank with a white substance and watches for bubbles that would indicate a leak. All is good.

12:21 PM

The booth is ready. Chili is bubbling away. Fryer is hot. Bread is ready to fry. Line fridge is stocked plus backups. Herbs are chopped. Rumour is gates open at 1 pm.

A Catering Day

Booth ready to go.

1:35 PM

1:00 came and went without event. I can see the first guests with VIP access entering the grounds.

A Catering Day

The first VIP guests arriving.

2:37 PM

We’ve served one order. There is nothing happening on site. Just sitting and playing the waiting game. I am actually anxious, I hate being at work with nothing to do, it is such an unusual feeling.

A Catering Day

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

2:40 PM

The gates have finally opened and we can see small groups of crazed teens running for the stage.

A Catering Day

Running for the stage.

4:19 PM

It is so hot, thank God there is a cool breeze every now and again. The grounds are full, but the booth is slow. A couple of friends that came down for fun take their lunch from us and walk around with it exclaiming how great it is. Most of the patrons are young and seen carrying fries around. I don’t think the heat is helping our dish. Our strawberry cedar juice seems to be selling well.

A Catering Day

The grounds continue to fill as the day winds on.

5:33 PM

In between Serena Ryder and Jimmy Eat World we start getting our first line ups. Word is making its way around the site of the dish we are serving. Indian Tacos. Fry bread topped with chili and lettuce, cheese, green onions, cumin sour cream, peach salsa, cilantro, and jalapenos.

A Catering Day

The lineup lasted for the next 5 hours.

7:00 PM

As Metric takes to the stage we have had a non-stop lineup for 2 hours. I really wanted to see at least one song from possibly my favourite band but I have to satiate that desire by stealing glances at the monitors beside the stage. They sound wicked and it is fun to bob my head to them as I rock out this food. Can’t help but notice the menacing clouds approaching from the opposite side of the site. If it rains the deep fryer is coming under the tent. Hot fat+water=disaster.

A Catering Day

The clouds started like this, then turned black.

7:15 PM

The heavens have opened up. We scramble to get the fryer out of the rain and gather the rocket burners and heavy pots of chili as rain drops the size of quarters hail down. Of course, this is the time I need to run to the walk in fridge (read: transport trailer) to get some supplies. The lineup at the booth remains through all of this and no one out front has any idea we are hurrying about.

A Catering Day

The show must go on.

9:00 PM

City and Colour start their closing set. After Metric, they are boring. No idea why they would close with them. The lineup slowly starts to dissipate. That was a nice taste of what a festival rush can be like. The rain only lasted about forty-five minutes.

A Catering Day

City and Colour on stage.

10:47 PM

City and Colour finish their set. We play the waiting game. Everyone has to be offsite before we can bring the cars around to tear down. We trade Indian Tacos for pizza from our booth-buddies, the Breadheads out of Kitchener, ON, as well as for fudge and candy apples from the booth across from us. Food is brought out of the walk-in and tables are collapsed.

A Catering Day

Between the row of vendors.

11:24 PM

The van is brought in. The wood flooring is broken down and we fire stuff into the van. I want to help so badly but Chef insists on doing it himself. He says its like tetris and its not always a two player game.

A Catering Day

Site is torn down.

12:21 AM

Our site is checked by the event organizers and given a thumbs up. Chef negotiates a refund for overpaying for the site. While they get him a cheque, we sit in the car and wait.

A Catering Day

Thank you goodnight!

12:51 AM

We finally start the car up and begin the journey home, passing our friend from earlier now shirtless and staying the night in Niagara. We hope he’s thought it through.

1:21 AM

A hugely long lineup of cars on a two-way street all heading for the highway. Turns out what was causing the backup was just a stop sign. We stop for coffees just before getting on the highway.

4:07 AM

Back at the restaurant to pick up my car. Unload the food into the walk in, say goodnight.

4:49 AM

Home, feed my cats, sleep for an hour then up and to work for 7:30 AM at the diner. A long but rewarding and fun day.

A Catering Day

I arrive at home. That is AM by the way. My next shift starts at 7:30 AM.

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4 Responses to “A Catering Day”
  1. Martin Wolf says:

    nicely written and photos helped a great deal..sounds like you’re toby tyler ..cool:)

  2. Mouse says:

    It sounds like you had an exhausting but rewarding day. Having to work a breakfast shift the next day is a bit rough though. Ouch!

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