Skinny Girls LIVE — Fundraising for the Kids

I sometimes get asked to do large events. As with the lovely wedding I cooked for earlier this year, I am always quick to point out that I am not a caterer. I don’t have any of those warming trays and I don’t have large metal spoons.

But I can usually still pull off feeding a whole bunch of people and having them feeling relatively happy and full at the end.


My children’s school Halloween Carnival had always been a somewhat humble affair — a couple hundred kids running around the school playground in the dark from one parent-curated booth to the next; adults queuing up for a bowl of chili or slipping stealthily from spiked sports cups.

This year, I was told, they wanted to “step it up”. Stepping it up involved, among other things, moving it to the local Community House, having a live band and alcohol sales, and me cooking.


The most I had ever cooked for previously was a bit shy of 200. But now, for the Topanga Elementary’s fundraising Halloween Carnival, I was told there could be as many as 600 people. Some of whom would be eating, some who wouldn’t; some carnivores, some pescetarians, probably some vegans; lots of picky kids. How do you plan for that?

Like a one-night restaurant, I suppose.

I didn’t want to buy too much. And I didn’t want to buy too little — I was okay with running out of items, there’s a certain aura of missing out to that, but not before say 8 p.m.

Star of the evening

Star of the evening

I planned a menu that would be easy to prepare on the only thing I would have to prepare food on — a Santa Maria grill: sandwiches (tri-tip and grilled chicken), Baja fish wraps, grilled veggie bowls. In a stroke of (I thought) inspiration, I would also offer two limited-quantity premium meat items: a Flintstone-size beef short rib, long smoked, Texas-style; and a 2 lb. “cowboy” dry-aged rib eye on the bone. The true inspiration, I would serve each with a premium alcohol — a shot of bourbon with the short rib; a shot of tequila with the rib eye.

As I did pre-prep in the days leading up to the event, there were still some unanswered questions beyond how many people would actually eat — how would I keep food cold, and warm; would I have enough people helping me; would I be able to see what I was doing after it got dark; would the premium meats sell; and would the grill staff be able to keep from drinking all the premium alcohol themselves?


Stay tuned next time for a full report.

And if you live in the area and are not busy on Saturday, October 24th, bring the kids to the canyon for some old school Halloween fun — booths, a haunted house, games, live music and, of course, tasty food. There’s a rumor the chef may even be performing a song with the band.

Topanga Halloween Carnival
Saturday, October 24, 3:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Topanga Community House
1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Topanga, CA 90290

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathy Rautureau
    Oct 23, 2015 @ 16:26:31

    Bonne chance!!! Can’t wait to hear your success story, that is quite an undertaking! I hope you have many “qualified” volunteers helping you to succeed. It will be a learning experience no matter the outcome.


  2. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    Oct 23, 2015 @ 17:10:15

    Hi Sean, sounds like a lot of fun and hard work. You Sir will do just fine…Enjoy yourself while your at it. Best Regards from Florida, Cheryl


  3. Mom
    Oct 23, 2015 @ 17:17:24

    Yikes Sean!! You will take on almost anything.


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