Last Saturday we were participated in an event at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. The event, called Mangia del'Arte, was a sort of live theater in the round laced with performances, food and wine. I have catered a wide variety of events in my 40 year career. This event was one of the most unique in concept and complexity. It was described as controlled chaos by John Daly. The juggling magic was not just on stage but also in coordinating the plating of the dinner to mesh with the performances.
David Asbell, the director of the theater, and the renowned event planner John Daly, created the event. Nine restaurants and catering companies prepared 13 courses of "small plate" dishes. We plated 2275 servings in 2-1/2 hours, served by 25 service staff.
The producer of the entertainment was Peter Lesnik. In his words, " After 27 years as an Executive Director of 5 successful performing arts centers, I have created The PLAN, a company dedicated to making art a part of daily life. I accomplish this by producing accessible, meaningful work, programming shows and series that are audience-centric, and by working with arts executives and their boards to create a common language and help define roles, responsibilities and structured interactions. Quick, direct and articulate are terms that have been used to describe my modus operandi. The bottom line is where we all end up, so keeping that in mind is critical for avoiding surprises."
Preceding and during the dinner, there were some 12 acts performed by a sort of Medieval style troupe that performed magic, juggling, acrobatic feats and more. The performers included Tandy Beal, Jeff Raz, Saki, Calvin Kai Ku, Wang Hong, Andrey Moraru and SoVoSo. The performers hail from theater and new wave circus backgrounds.
The chef's hang their toques at The Marquee, Blush Restaurant, Adama Vegan Comfort Food, Petit Valentien, Michael's Catering, Chase Restaurant and Lounge, Paradise Cafe, Soujourner Cafe and Restaurant and Wine Cask Restaurant & Intermezzo Car Café. Babcock Winery poured their fabulous wines.
A special thanks goes out to my staff including Hugo Alvarado (kitchen) and Carlos Santana (service captain) and the forty other back-of-the house crew that labored in the kitchen.
Chef Michael Hutchings
Santa Barbara, CA