This last Fall Chef Garbo invited the USCPA Bay Area Chapter to spend a weekend Retreat with her in the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore. They stayed at her family cottage in the charming town of Inverness. The intent of the Retreat was to experience culinary field trips to several famous Point Reyes food purveyors, strengthen our bonds as a Chapter, and explore marketing opportunities via our new Chapter Web Site. Most importantly, we wanted to have fun while we developed our team building skills and showcased our talents as Personal Chefs.
The first stop for the fine ladies with big knives was the Hog Island Oyster Company were we tasted several varieties of oysters including the tiny Kumamoto’s which were salty and briny and the extra-small Pacific’s which were sweet and plump. The Hog Island Oyster Company is a destination picnic spot for oyster lovers. We learned that Chef Suzette was not an oyster fan and had never eaten a raw oyster in her life… So naturally, we didn’t leave the premises until she had done so! The next event was at the Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station where we enjoyed a cheese tasting. We sampled many of their award-winning cheeses including Devil’s Gulch, Inverness and Pierce PT which is made from organic whole milk from the Chileno Valley Jersey Dairy, washed in a muscato wine and rolled in dried herbs from the Tomales Bay coastal region. Many of us purchased cheese samples to use in our dinner later that night.
TEAM BUILDING VIA KITCHEN BRIGADE
When we arrived at Garbo’s cottage, everyone assembled in the kitchen and executed their mise-en-place. Garbo ran the kitchen brigade and assigned each Chef their work station. Polina was in command of the BBQ detail where we indulged in more oysters only barbequed this time around. Polina worked her grilling magic tending to the old-fashioned kettle charcoal grill. In addition to oysters, she grilled chicken, lamb, beef, and vegetables. Meanwhile back at the kitchen brigade, Chefs Suzette, Kathy, Renee, Kara, and Dawn prepared their appetizers and side dishes. Chef Garbo took charge of the cocktail detail where she prepared her signature Side Car plus, she filmed numerous mini demos of each Chef preparing their dish while explaining step by step what they were cooking. The purpose of the video session was to practice, review & analyze our camera presence as well showcase our culinary skills. The end goal is to ultimately post the video cameos, once mastered, on our websites or YouTube to further promote our businesses. Chef Kathy made bruschetta with a Mexican influence as well as a chocolate fruit fondue for dessert. Kara prepared her original recipe for braised pork belly BLTs with Balsamic sauce. Renee made a savory asparagus risotto, Suzette prepared a caramelized onion sauce with a Cow Girl Creamery blue cheese for the steaks as well as beautiful mixed berry tart with a honey custard filing and Dawn made her trademark broccoli and tomato salad. In a Julia Child fashion, Chef Garbo made sure that everyone’s Side Car glass was full.
MARKETING CHAPTER WEBSITE WITH OUR BLOG
Dinner was a knockout performance which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. The main dinner table discussion revolved around how to exploit our newly developed Chapter Website. Garbo announced that the site was officially up and running thanks to Polina’s stellar programming skills. Essentially, Garbo created the content and design and Polina managed of all the back-end programming work. The Chapter decided upon the WordPress blogging platform because it’s easy to use, cost-effective and has built in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Garbo stressed that everyone in the Chapter should blog away under our Blog Tab to promote their businesses and get more visibility on the web via our site. Our strategy is to achieve the #1 spot by continuing to add blogging content to our Chapter website.
The Chapter had a very productive Retreat. The big take away was to continue to do Marketing, Marketing, and more Marketing and have fun doing it!