What I wouldn't give to be able to tour with the Dave Matthews Band. Oh yeah, the exciting locales and great music is seriously appealing, but what puts me right over the edge is the incredible food. Have you ever thought about what it takes to feed everyone involved with putting on these awesome shows?
Head chef for Dave Matthews Band Summer 2009 tour, Fiona Bohane, gives us an inside peek. Here's Fiona:
This is going to be quick, because the likelihood that I'll burn the chicken in the convection oven (yes, it's free range chicken from Whole Foods) is high and I've got to get back to directing the three other chefs and our kitchen helpers. But I wanted to take a little time out to introduce myself.
I'm Fiona Bohane and I am the head chef for the DMB summer tour. After seven years of working with the band and crew guys, you could say they feel like my extended family-and despite the long days, we all have a great time on the road. And not just with our regular crew, either: all the traveling affords us the opportunity to work with many different, entertaining characters. We learn from them as much about the local culture and cusine as we do by exploring the cities on our days off.
Dega Catering, the Tennessee-based company I work for, provides full-service tour catering. We serve a wide range of foods to satisfy different tastes, dietary restrictions, and, hey, even bored palettes. Although our crew loves comfort foods like meatballs, enchiladas, and roasted chicken, they always jump at more adventuresome, polished items like tamarind-glazed chicken or filet with a New Mexican chili demi. I try not to repeat menu items, but truth be told, I can panko-crust just about any fish and everyone loves it. We feed a lot of people everyday: the band and their crew, local workers, opening band members, and guests. It could be between 150 to 400 people a day, with the lion's share eating dinner.
We don't only cook on show days, though: besides the three meals we serve, members of our seven person catering crew also set up dressing rooms, stock band and crew buses (eleven buses in all!), and cater to any special band needs. That said, the band rarely asks for specific or difficult items. They'll usually eat whatever we're serving that evening, because when you have such a big selection to pick from, there's something for everyone. We really go all out by offering a vegetarian soup, two appetizers (at least one vegetarian), two green salads, a whole grain salad, three meat entrees (e.g. beef, chicken, seafood), a vegetarian/vegan entrée, a starch (rice, pasta or potatoes), steamed brown rice, and two vegetables. I can't forget the cheese and charcuterie plates, dinner breads, and, of course, the desserts (Whole Foods' cakes are a favorite). Any leftovers we carry with us for the next day, offer to our local help, or when possible, work with an organization such as Rock and Wrap It Up to get the food delivered to local food banks and shelters.
All this takes a lot of effort and coordination, but it's important to give the band and crew some of the creature comforts of home when we're in strange - and not so strange - lands. Now, back to that burning chicken.