Thursday, April 23, 2009
I've been able to recover from the alcoholic haze and blog again. Deathmatch never fails to throw my life into a maelstrom of shit, and this one was even bigger than the others. I thought it would be interesting to tell you a little about this thing we've created - let's start with the timeline for the most recent:
Deathmatch Last Meal 2009
3 Months Out:
The concept is born. Everybody at one time or another has discussed the last meal they would have if they were to die immediately after. This allowed for so many ideas, which would range from expensive luxuries to the humble dishes prepared by our Grandmothers when we were growing up. Also, I wanted to give my chefs a break after the difficult restraints of Deathmatch Grow! Kill! Forage! There would be no limits here.
I also begin planning a book, where every chef gets a photo shoot and answers these five questions:
1. What would be your last meal on earth?
2. What would you drink with the meal?
3. What would the setting be?
4. Who would be there?
5. Would there be music?
I also decided that every guest would give me three songs that they would like to hear on their last day, and the party soundtrack would be a shuffle of these selections. It was at this point I started feeling that this might be biting off more than I could chew..
2 Months Out:
Ideas are taking hold. I am fortunate enough to meet Zack Bowen one random night while I was working the bar at Hugo's. I took one look at his portfolio and asked him if he would be interested in being our new photographer. He graciously accepted and the book concept began to come to life.
At this point I leave for Argentina, knowing that when I get back I had to hit the ground running...
1 Month Out:
Zack and I begin the photo shoots. I start gathering songs and worksheets from the chefs. We had a tight time frame here, we needed to complete 17 shoots in 2 weeks. At this point Katie Selva stepped in to help us out for a couple of them, and Zack worked tirelessly to accomidate schedules to finish the rest. The photos and copy were then handed off to Marya Baron, our amazingly talented graphic designer. She put together an incredible book in 3 days and got it sent off to be published in time for the party. The first major obstacle has been overcome..
2 Weeks Out:
Nothing else matters outside of Deathmatch. Relationships, Bills, Family, and Reality all get put to the wayside for this last stretch. Alcohol consumption nearly triples and sleep becomes scarce. People try to talk to me about other things and I can barely even listen. Deathmatch is all that matters. We spend huge sums of money on massive and rare bottles of wine but can barely pay for modest day to day expenses. The party becomes a monster that grows out of control as we desperately try to keep the guest list in check. Chefs need to know numbers, I have to track everyone down for the second time and collect money, songs, and services.
Also - The easiest way to never be invited to Deathmatch is inviting yourself.
1 Week Out:
I'm to the point where I hope this party actually kills me. Thinking about the aftermath is so overwhleming that I just push the drinking that much further in order not to worry about it. All these fucking people want in last minute, I start to worry that there will be too many people and all my efforts will be fucking ruined..
Leslie makes the tent happen, which allows me to relax a little knowing that people will be mostly outside. Taylor comes through with the Iberico ham, and I realize that this is going to be amazing. Marya shows up with the books, and I get even more excited, I think we should go buy a 3L of 1990 Perrier Jouet La Fleur to go with our Caviar!
I wake up after 2 hours of sleep in a daze. I get up without thinking and immediately start making soup for my course. The decorating crew shows up around 10:30 and over the course of 3 hours makes the house look like a mexican funeral.
I am able to sit down and focus on creating the menu, which Marya gets printed for me. Zack shows up and sets up a photo studio upstairs. There is a dispute about whether or not to set up the tent because it was a beautiful day.
Chefs start showing up with food. I put on a suit. People compete for precious counterspace to prep their food. I go outside and start pouring drinks....
For what happens next, check out Johnny D's full e-gullet report here or Marya's report here
Monday is a write off, as I wasn't actually expecting to wake up. I don't go near the house because it's a fucking disaster. I go to work and then continue the bender after, which bleeds into Tuesday - also a write off. Wednesday the massive cleanup effort really begins, with help from several guests. We then do our traditional "Death Warmed Over" feast on Thursday, where chefs get creative with the leftovers.
Somebody asks me about the next Deathmatch. Not to say I don't love these parties, but I tell them to go fuck themselves....
all photos by Zack Bowen or Marya Baron