A culinary learning journey should produce some new ideas for food service, and this one was no exception. We seemed to be eating all the time and I for one, was happy to get back to a real hamburger. Judging by all the Facebook posts I was not alone.. everyone was checking in with a hamburger ‘fix’, once back home.

My host in France (my own side trip) suggested a place for supper my last night there and asked if I liked little fried potatoes. (I had no clue what she was talking about) She took me to a typical French district where everyone sat outside in different cafés and we ordered a bruschetta, which is not the same as we get here.

Our meal came with these little fried potatoes in a basket, FRENCH FRIES!!!! It seemed like each table had some of these and I couldn’t believe my eyes.. is FRANCE responsible for our french fries addiction? Well is it? The bruschetta was more like a homemade pizza and it was delicious, we shared it.

This trip was full of new and unusual foods for me.. I am a BBQ caterer after all. What good is a trip like this if there isn’t something for all of us to learn though. So I’m going to share what I learned and what I would like to try for our  catering business. (well I am retired, but I am a consultant now, so that counts)

I would certainly do the lamb thing (whole lambs or half) my god that was the best! Keep in mind I am not fond of lamb.. this one that was ‘cooked’ in pits was a real surprise to me and so delicious, I couldn’t eat enough of it! I’m sure we could do a barbeque version of some kind.

The next thing worth considering is family style.. I know we already do that but this was ‘family style’ with a twist. Having a server ‘dish’ out each plate was something we ran into a lot. Huge tangines brought out with flair by two people holding them, they take the top off and a big skillet is lifted out with the meal in it, and settled onto the table.

A garbed server then takes our plates and dishes up the meal and we pass the full plates back around the table. This would take the guess work outta family style because it is portioned out. I’m thinking it would only work best with round tables. The ambiance is what makes this special.

The salad course would include little round bowls put out on the tables containing maybe four to six ingredients. Think relishes, but these would contain the salad extras.  A garbed server brings out the exquisite bowl of lettuce (ever seen an exquisite bowl of lettuce.. me neither loll). Pass the lettuce bowl then the smaller ‘relish’ bowls and then maybe a little soup tureen with dressing? (the tables are already set with plates and salad bowls)

The coup de’ grace for me would be a spectacular dessert table-side, could involve torches I guess, we all have those. We had a many layered ’round phylos’ done crisp like a layered cake with whipped cream and various fruits for filling with a delicious topping sent from heaven, I wanted to lick the plate! It too was served with finesse’.

Family style is a pain in the butt .. but this would be different in that you would have portion control. I think depending on how much you charge, maybe one server could do two tables?  You could probably get away with staggering them a bit. One table is finishing up salad course while another is being served the main event.  I like to overwork my staff so one server.. two tables loll.

The exciting part for me would be the planning part. I know a couple venues with round tables and I would go from there. Our theme would be from ‘farm to table’ (way overdone) or “dirt to delicious” because we live in the prairies, agriculture is big here. I can already picture it..  a big cast iron skillet tableside and a handsome ‘cowboy’ carving a delicious pork loin with little stacks of ovenroasted vegetables surrounded by creamy globes of yummy lemon roasted potatoes.

We mostly do buffet style events so this would be a change for us. Those already doing plated would not get much bang for your buck this way..  BUT this could be a novelty type of event that you could fine tune to create an air of excitement and extra cash for your business. Pick a name for it to reflect your business.. think ‘branding’ then create a mood and style. That’s it ..

Oh.. and with all the food choices and high end places and, and.. all the different styles of food. One thing I missed everywhere but I know it is available because I took pictures of it in a market we went to. LETTUCE .. salads were totally out of favor here. I have no idea why, but their first courses included every braised or pickled or broiled veggie  you can imagine.. but a salad was scarce.. go figure?

Ok  gang.. we seen a lot and shared a lot. I know you are all generous with sharing stuff.. I need some help here.  I know some of you will have pictures of everything and hopefully will post them here. You also have ideas of your own take-aways and will maybe share those here as well?