Off-sites and the Traveling Spice Kit

Wherever you cook...success in the kitchen relies on order.

Watching the pros cook is a bit of poetry in action. There's an economy of movement that is essential to the job, and above everything, efficiency depends on order.

Off-site gigs present a slew of obstacles--from an unfamiliar layout to limited cold storage and power shortages. Adaptability...and a rock solid checklist are paramount. Carefully pack every last bit of equipment required for the job...and assume nothing. Then, check your list thoroughly and anticipate challenges.

To sum it up: off-site events are like camping...mixed with a bit of theater. Pack it in. Pack it out. And whatever happens...the show must go on!

My old client, Ethan, was a master at organization. I'll never forget the 20 course dinner he prepared. Held off-site in a spacious kitchen with limited equipment, he arrived just twenty minutes before the event. Before dinner, guests were milling about the space, enjoying a bit of bubbly. Meanwhile, I'm in the back, helping unload the car, which was driven on to a freight elevator and lifted two stories. Prepped to perfection, he was ready to go in minutes. The photographer shooting the event, showed a kitchen crew relaxed and at ease...cranking out course after course for 40 people.

This week, both my friends Kris and Marc are cooking at off-site gigs. Kris is whipping up her magic at a villa nestled in the hills of Tuscany. And Marc is on a houseboat in sun-kissed Eastern Washington. The meticulous preparation required for trips like these is quite fascinating. Dinner at Marc's and late night conversation turned to the task at hand. Menu selection, availability of ingredients, and budget constraints are just a few factors to consider.

While I'm sure Marc was armed with an arsenal of spices for his houseboat gig, this is his kit devised for weekend getaways. Fashioned out of an artist supply box, his kit stocks the most commonly used spices. Genius, no?

Careful preparation inventory list. With a penchant for luxe dishes, my guess is, that's Truffle Salt on the right.