First Impressions: The Heat with Mark McEwan
Originally posted at Edible TV on November 12, 2007.
I sit here with laptop and Tivo controller in hand about to watch Fine Living Network’s The Heat with Mark McEwan. I know nothing about the show except that it has something to do with a chef. I will attempt to capture for you my thought stream as it unfolds.
Two minutes in and it looks to be a reality show about a caterer. Chef Mark McEwan (owner of North 44◦ Restaurant and Catering) was describing the last catering job he did in wine country and how it was a complete train wreck. In the episode McEwan’s team is returning to the area to cater a harvest celebration at the Inniskillin Winery. The specialty at Inniskillin is ice wines which are made from grapes that have been frozen thus concentrating the sugars making for a very sweet wine. A quick net search tells me that Inniskillin is in Ontario. Apparently they make wine in Canada.
The first segment should be familiar to anyone who has ever planned a wedding, anniversary, or other reception; it is a first meeting to discuss everyone’s ideas about how this dinner for 25 should go. The client gives the caterer three options for the setting and then shows Chef McEwan the closet that poses as the kitchen. This is a recurring theme in catering, rarely does anyone ever cater a place that is actually equipped to be catered. McEwan is adamant that he does not want to do the party outdoors but the client is just as insistent that he wants to dine al fresco.
The second segment begins with McEwan meeting with his catering team discussing the menu for the wine tasting and dinner. The team reminisces about the last catering they did in wine country and they play a number of flash backs of that disastrous dinner. The client then shows up at McEwan’s restaurant to begin forging a menu. While the team is left to prepare the menu items for tasting, McEwan is successful in convincing the client not to do the event out doors. The chef was confidant that his team could pull off the dishes without his presence, however, he would later point out that they missed the mark on every dish.
The shortest segment begins the day of the catering and the team is vowing that the meals will be perfect. Most of the dishes go well and there is noticeable improvement of the culinary team’s understanding of the chef’s vision for the meal. There is one mess up with some over cooked pork roast, but that is easily fixed.
McEwan boasts that the weather forecast is calling for temperatures in the single digits and stiff wind. Weather was his main argument for moving the event in doors. They spend about 30 seconds on what is, to me, the most interesting part – the set-up of a commercial grade kitchen in one end of the old barn that will serve as the setting for the dinner. They even brought along screens to shield off the makeshift kitchen from the table on the other end of the barn. McEwan seems to mention to everyone about how cold and windy it is as if seeking recognition for correctly calling the weather.
In the final segment the North 44◦ team successfully pulls off the dinner. Each dish is perfectly prepared and plated and even the overcooked pork is rescued with stunning expertise. The client is satisfied and everyone is happy.
All and all it was an interesting show that should provide those outside of the catering industry with a glimpse at how difficult a profession it is. It does so without the over the top scenarios of the Food Network’s two catering based reality shows Dinner: Impossible and the soap opera-esque Two Dude’s Catering. Now if you will excuse me, it is time to watch Smallville.
Entry filed under: From My Other Blogs. Tags: dinner impossible, Fine Living, Fine Living Network, Inniskillin Winery, Mark McEwan, North 44, North 44◦, Smallville, the heat, The Heat with Mark McEwan, Two Dude’s Catering.