Saturday, January 16, 2010

Annual Team Appreciation Lunch

Since 2002, I have hosted an annual appreciation lunch for the team members who directly report to me. With the challenging economic year in 2009, my entire team worked extremely hard and endured quite a bit of stress along the way, not unlike the majority of individuals around the globe. Hosting this lunch at my house is one small way to annually express to my team, how much I appreciate all that they do.

Cooking truly connects me with people since it is both creative and my gift that I can share with other people. I enjoy the entire process of entertaining from A to Z - from planning the menu, making the shopping list, preparing the food to setting the table. My endorphins get charged up and it makes me so joyful to make people happy.

December is a time in my industry that we take our clients out to lunch to thank them for their business and the calendar gets quickly booked up. I scheduled this years lunch in the first week of January and it gave the team an opportunity to relax and reflect on last year and get charged up for a much brighter year in 2010.

Everyone arrived around noon with a vigorous appetite. I created three different appetizers for everyone to munch on before the main event. We had Gruyere Olive Poppers, Walnut and Pinenut Pesto Crostini and Italian Crostini. My team was hungry and everything, with the exception of a few was devoured.

Typically, one or two team members volunteer to assist me with preparation of the plates and service. Much appreciated! First course was Bibb lettuce and Endive Salad with Warm Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese Medallion. Simply dressed the salad with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and fleur de sel and pepper. Tasted until the proportions were perfect between the oil and acid component of the lemon juice. The best tools for mixing are your hands. Each salad was adorned with pomegranate seeds and the warm goat cheese medallion.

(My assistants:  Christine and Deb)

Now onto the main course, what I called “Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner” which was Pan Roasted Chicken, Winter Vegetables, Wine Infused Pears, Mustard au Jus with Country Biscuits. The chicken bone in breasts with the skin on and quickly pan seared on high to crisp the skin, then placed onto a large baking dish adorned with potatoes and carrots. All of the chicken breasts sat on top and chicken stock were added to preserve the moisture with in the chicken. The mustard au jus was made with chicken stock, white wine, grainy and Dijon mustard and a bit of cream, then seasoned with salt and pepper. Best to make after you have pan seared all of the chicken breasts, so the flavor from the searing gets into the sauce.

Final event was handmade crème brulee. This decadent dessert is so simple and a true crowd pleaser. My team literally scraped each bit from the ramekins. Glad that everyone had a nice time and was able to take a menu home as a token.

Thank You Deb, Laurie, Matt, Christine, Patti and Stefanie!

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