There are challenges, and then there are challenges. I like to think I am good at accepting new challenges, but the reality is that most of the time I just stick with what I know.
But then out of the blue, you are presented with an opportunity that looks too good to miss. Something that sparks your interest and causes you to ask yourself “Can I do that?”
And that’s what happened to us this past weekend.
Artist Kathy Karas hosts a Christmas in July Painting Retreat in the beautiful Kangaroo Valley once a year. And last year she asked if I would cater for this year’s retreat. My partner Dan and I love to cook, and I would say we are good home cooks, but caterers we are not.
The most substantial meals we have cooked have been for Dan’s family, around 14 people in total and a forgiving audience. At the retreat, we would be catering to 13 people plus ourselves. It all seemed doable.
Reality hit hard
Ha! We now realise how different cooking part of one meal with shared cleanup duties is to a whole weekend of cooking and cleaning.
You don’t know what you don’t know, right? You can imagine what something is going to be like but if you have nothing to gauge it by how will you know unless you just do it?
Reality hit, big time, and we had to dig deep. I can’t even tell you how worn out we were. It was most definitely a wake-up call to get our health and fitness up to par. Cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen, we cooked seven meals plus morning, afternoon tea and cheeseboards for 13 people over three days, and we were totally and utterly exhausted. Up between 5.30 am and to bed around 9 pm with an hour or two of rest through the day. I mean how did we forget about all the clean up that would be involved? Well, we just did.
We started on the back foot. There was a late night the night before, an early morning departure (5 am) from home in the Blue Mountains with a three-hour drive, and then the reality of catering. But I will stop there on what seems like I am negative because although it was one of the hardest physical challenges we have ever done, the rewards were astounding.
Our menu was a hit. Our food, made using some much-loved family and favourite recipes, were well received and praised. Our respect for each other has grown immensely because even though we knew we were a good team, we shone together like never before. We were proud of our ability to be flexible with our meals, averting minor disasters and making them into delicious creations.
We supported each other and helped each cope. Our relationship and respect for each other are better for the experience.
We couldn’t believe people were asking us how often we catered for events like this. Their faces were priceless when we said it was our first time. Another guest John told us how it was the little touches like my handmade truffles that had made it even more special.
I was so happy that the food I love to cook was so well received.
Above everything we are so proud of ourselves and what we were able to accomplish. I don’t know if I have ever felt as much pride in myself. Now we most definitely will not be catering as a business, but I already bake for our local café here in Blackheath some much-loved cake recipes, and in true entrepreneurial style business ideas are flitting about in our heads about future business opportunities.
So next year I will rise to a new challenge, walking the Camino with my daughter. I’d say I am getting good at pushing myself outside my comfort zone.
I highly recommend saying yes to new things and then just working it out. One of the retreat guests, Kristy told us how her friend calls her “Lets” because when new things arise, she says, “Let’s try it!” an awesome motto to live by and one we should all follow more.
With that in mind, and while I float high on my cloud of achievement, I want to add another challenge to the mix.
My business Travel Charm already offers small group tours for women to Europe.
But I would like to offer something for everyone, still small and friendly. So together Dan and I would like to host/escort small group tours of up to ten people to Europe, starting in Italy, on a Food Discovery Tour, diving deeper and exploring the food culture on a different level – explore traditional foods of different regions, how it’s made, the history, a cooking class perhaps, some wine tasting of course.
What do you think? Would you be interested? Are you a foodie like us and want to experience Italy differently?
Let me know, and I can keep you informed on dates and details as they arise.
But for now, enjoy some of our food highlights from our weekend.
Orange Ice Creams, my Homemade Chocolate Truffles & Gluten Free Steamed Christmas Pudding
Cheeseboard to enjoy at the end of a long day
Appetiser – Sweet Potato Rosti with Smoked Salmon and homemade Lemon & Dill Mayonnaise (gf, paleo)
Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks with red wine & balsamic reduction served with pomegranate
Apple Spice Cake (paleo, gf) Parfaits with brownies in the background (gf)