I was in way over my head.
• • •
Share provides shelters for people and families who experience homelessness, and a free hot meals program. The Soup’s On event brought 13 chefs together (well, 12 chefs and me) to cook.
The chefs brought decades of professional cooking experience. I brought my Italian grandma’s soup recipe.
So there I was last Saturday — the day before the big event — with 50 pounds of fresh tomatoes, 20 heads of garlic, a boatload of basil, 150 eggs, three pounds of Pecorino Romano, two bottles of olive oil and 10 pounds of pasta.
My wife, Maley, agreed to help me but — let’s be honest — I was in deep. Too deep.
If you think about steaming 50 pounds of tomatoes to get the skin off, then coring those tomatoes, then realizing you’ve just begun, you begin to appreciate the daunting task ahead.
Five hours after I had begun, I was a beaten amateur. I would come back the next morning — the day of the event — to finish.
• • •
Sunday morning was breaking good. But then, I hadn’t left the house yet, so I knew I was kidding myself.
I had to get back to WareHouse ’23, finish there, then head to the Hilton Vancouver Washington, where a whole bunch of hungry guests would be arriving.
I ended up making 20 gallons of soup. Do the math! That’s about 170 pounds’ worth. And most of it would be served in one-ounce allotments to the 900 tasters. Somehow, some way — with lots of help — I made it.
• • •
The serving completed, I joined the other chefs in the main ballroom. We were all called on stage and received a beautiful commemorative gift. Three chefs — Troy Lucio, the Hilton; Michael Borges, Mill Creek Pub; and Poncik — ended up winning awards for having the best soups.
Of course, in the end, Share was the big winner, grossing more than $125,000. I’ve been down to the Share House. There are still so many people in our community who need help. And it’s our job — our obligation — to help those who do not have what we have.
But this cooking for 900 thing? Not my cup of tea, er, soup. This is no kitchen for old men.
And I’m an old guy.