Creating Holiday Traditions: Meal Prep Stations
I love the holiday season, and I adore the family meals we do. But I have noticed, as I get older it gets harder. I just don’t have the energy that I used to have.
A couple of years ago, I realized that I had to make a change. After working for hours and hours preparing a meal, that in truth lasted about a half hour, I was beat. As I stood alone washing dishes, I decided it was time for a change.
I travel all over teaching cooking classes. My Chef Brad Events are amazing, and my favorite class for a Chef Brad Event is the Friday night hands on dinner party. This is a class/event where I place recipes, equipment, tools, and food in stations. When the guests arrive we place them in stations and the fun begins. For about an hour, sometimes more, the kitchen is a hum of activity and fun. Honestly it is pure magic. Everyone is having a ball, and miraculously the food comes together perfectly. Friends are made and relationships are strengthened.
With the success of those evenings I thought I should give it a try. Before I had a chance to do it for my family, a dear friend who had listened to me talk about it, tried it out on her family. My friend was amazed at how everyone one in the family was involved and took such pride in what they were cooking. She was even more amazed at how much longer the meal lasted and how each wanted the appraisal of the other for the foods they had created. She was totally convinced and now it is a tradition forever in her home.
The report she gave inspired me to get with it this holiday season, and do the same. I put it to the test this year and wow I will never go back. It was magical and so heart warming. Honestly I was in tears a couple times as I looked at the wonderful experience unfolding before me. I told everyone to come at 11:00, that we were all going to be cooking the meal. When everyone arrived the fun began.
Each station had all the dishes/equipment and ingredients needed, as well as a printed recipe to follow. My nephew and niece and their four children joined my three boys, my daughter-in-law and my wife in preparing the meal. We paired up everyone so that all the recipes were being made. They were wonderful. The small boys loved cooking with my big boys, and I loved watching the bonds of family expand. It was great having family members who didn’t often see each other, become closer through cooking together. It was precious in every way.
The miracle was after the food was prepared, and in the oven finishing off, there was some down time to get the cleaning done. So by the time the food was ready, the kitchen was sparkling. All the dishes were done. Everyone cleaned his or her own prep area. Wow, that was the first ever in my kitchen. Clean kitchen before the meal started. When we finally sat down the only dishes that needed to be cleaned were the serving dishes and eating utensils. That made cleanup so easy, and I was able to spend more time visiting and enjoying the family after the meal.
Honestly it really was one of my most enjoyable holiday meal experiences. Please understand I love the other way, and love cooking and serving those I love. However, changing the game actually will be a greater blessing for all. When we cook together, we are bond together with stronger family ties. Cooking together knits the hearts and binds us in amazing ways.
I share this with you because I know that often the burden of feeding our families can take away from the joy we should be having. Sometimes we get in ruts and things that worked before may not work now. Our families grow and change and with that we need to be willing to grow and change with the needs of our families. In today’s fast paced world the need to connect on a deeper level with those we love the most. Food is a great gift and when we use it with wisdom we can create fond food memories that last a lifetime.
Enjoy the Journey
Chef Brad ~America’s Grain Guy