Recipe for DEN Success

I had planned it to be the most decadent of DEN events.  It was supposed to be rich, luxurious… the "Royal Caribbean" cruise line of events, so to speak.  But, suddenly, it was beginning to feel more like the Titanic! 

Hang on, let me back up a month…

I had the placeThe Culinary Center of Monterey on Cannery Row

I had the catchy title and description:  "The Culinary Institute of Monterey Jamaic-an-Take — Caribbean cooking instruction, steel drum music, and a completed project using unitedstreaming ready for the new school year… Does that sound like a delicious way to end the summer?"

I had insomnia:  I sent out the email invitation at 2AM and within SIX MINUTES!!! (I kid you not!) I had my first RSVP.  That RSVP led to a 30 minute succession of emails, each of us asking why the other was up at such an ungodly hour.

By 10:30 the next morning, I had a full list of eager attendees and a waiting list too.  This was looking good! 

The week before the event, I called the Culinary Center just to check in and wondering if they had decided on some of our Caribbean recipes yet.  (And this is where I caught my first glimpse of that iceberg!)  I was told that they had fired our chef and were desperately looking for someone else!  (Insert Bad-Mommy-Word here.)  I was promised that they would find someone, not to worry, they wanted it to be perfect for us.

I didn’t want to alarm my "guests" so I sent out the usual, upbeat, "here’s-what-you-can-expect" email.  I tried to calm myself with some UN-usual "this-will-all-work-out" conversation in my head…no need to panic, right? But then, I started to receive some replies from my guests.  Most of them were the "I’m-so-excited-I-can’t-wait" emails that always make me smile, but I also started to receive some very unhappy responses … some "I can’t attend" emails!!!  Worse yet, they were unable to attend because of big things like an injury (three broken toes!), employees quitting, incomplete school construction, and job stress overload!  I think we’re heading straight for that iceberg!

And then, CRASH!  Two days before the event, I was in excruciating pain!  I was having lunch at my home away from home, the Mother Land…Starbuck’s, when I felt like I had been stabbed in the stomach.  It couldn’t be food poisoning from my happiest place on Earth!?  Nah, it was nerves, I’ll be fine (some more of that unusual self-help conversation.)  But I wasn’t fine.  I had a lengthy drive ahead of me and I was trying really hard not to cry.  Look, I’ve had two babies and I was not about to let a tummy ache stop me from a three-hour drive home!  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my doctor… but I don’t want to go see ANY doctor, if I don’t have to.  I tried to convince myself that the stomach pain would go away all on its own, but by the time I arrived home I was asking to be taken to the emergency room.  Four hours later (every patient that came through the door was a bleeding child, dammit!) I was finally being seen by the ER doctor.  His tentative diagnosis, gallstones, but I needed to see my regular doctor.  Armed with something resembling morphine pumping through my veins and a prescription for pain medication should I have problems again, I was sent home.

Now, I’d like to think a weaker person would have just thrown in the towel at this point.  But not me!!  (Truth be told though, I don’t think I’m so much strong as I am just plain, old stubborn.)  I was not going to cancel this event! 

The day of our "Jamaic-an-Take" arrived.  The sun was shining in Monterey.  My DEN members showed up in tropical attire, ready with smiles and hugs.  I was introduced to our charming chef for the day.  The kitchen classroom had a full wall of windows that looked across the street and out onto an oh-my-gosh view of Monterey Bay!  We spent the morning cooking up the most delicious recipes (Plantain Bisque with Lobster Tails, Jerk Pork, Banana Macadamia Pandowdy with Ginger Cream… to name just a few!)  We drank dark rum out of coconut shells and danced to steel drum music. After our decadent and delicious meal, our ladies sat down and got to work on creating a unitedstreaming project all while chatting and sharing with their newfound friends.  And even though I had another attack (umm, I guess maybe I shouldn’t have indulged in all of the phenomenal, spicy and rich recipes.  But it was soooooo worth it!) our dedicated DEN members (just like the Titanic’s band kept playing) kept right on working and networking.  Thanks ladies for a FABULOUS time.  It was delicious!

Look closely at the first picture! Ha!

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  1. Michelle said:

    Oh Susan, as much pain as you were in, I have to tell you how hard I laughed! You are so dedicated to be (love the theme by the way)cooking and creating lessons…..what a fun evening! Wish I could have been there!

  2. Danielle Abernethy said:

    What an inspiration to the rest of us! I hope you’re feeling better and I’m glad to hear that your ship missed the ice-berg.

  3. Kim Randall said:

    Despite the almost iceberg Titanic event, we had such a great time! And our food was delicious! Suz, we were sad to see you in so much pain, but glad you’re feeling better! Too funny that we took that pic. of the iceberg titanic.

  4. Diana Kenney said:

    You are a woman with superhero STRENGTH! You’re a true inspiration!

  5. Jannita Demian said:

    The theme song comes to mind “You’re here… there’s nothing I fear…” What a TERRIFIC event! Wish I was there with you! I loved seeing all the familiar faces! A big giant hello from the south to the north!

  6. Kim Richter said:

    Enticed by Susan’s culinary promises I sent back my reservation with high hopes for techie fun. I knew that I would have to endure COOKING for the morning to get to the main dish – a tech project. Can you tell that the kitchen is not where I would ever choose to spend my time? But I knew that Susan would make the 3 hour drive worth my while. However, I have to say that if my kitchen looked out onto the bay with otters, sea birds, divers, and kayakers maybe I would spend more time there.
    Then, surprise surprise, the cooking class was fun….maybe it was the rum and juice we started sipping(drinking)as we cooked or the great chef and chef’s assistants who hid their smirks behind calm faces when they helped us with beginning tasks like chopping. Even after one major order of operations breakdown our portion of the feast was magnificent. We wined and dined and then, almost best of all, left the clean up to another group of not so pleased assistants. It was a great time.
    Then, this was the pits though, we lost Susan to gastronomic distress….was it our cooking? Definitely! We, like all good students, sat down and got to work. We helped each other and accomplished much in the time we had in the afternoon.
    My only question is….where is the next techie adventure? Count me in!

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