The Fondue Fiasco
Many of my friends know the story I am about to tell. It is about my first real catering job for people I did not know. I had NO idea what I was doing at that point in my career. This is like diving into the deep end of a waterless swimming pool. Anyway, I received a call asking if I could make fondue for fifty (50) people – and oh, by the way, the party is the day after tomorrow! She mentioned paying me $1,000, so, of course, I said “Sure”!
What was I thinking?! Yes, once again, my brain left the building. I had one day to research, shop, cut up a scary amount of cheese, bread and other dippers. HELP! I decided to make 5 different kinds of fondue – classic cheese, pesto fontina cheese fondue, curry cheese fondue, Mexican fondue and chocolate fondue.
Fortunately, I had the help of 5 friends and family that helped me chopped up all that cheese and bread. I put all the cheese into separate garbage bags, filled two garbage bags full of bread loaded the car and drove to the clients’ home. What I did not know, was that there were 39 steps to reach their front door. Are you kidding me? A good friend of mine, Tom, came with me and helped me haul / lug at the food up the stairs to the kitchen. The next surprise was that the kitchen was in the middle of the party, so I had to look like I knew what I was doing! The wife greeted me and said, by the way, my husband has OCD about the stove, don’t slop any cheese on it, please. My friend Tom bartended until my husband came to relieve him. I owe them a lot!
It was the hardest party I have ever caterered. You cannot leave fondue unattended without constantly stirring it – what a nightmare.
The end result was a very successful party, but I almost died doing it.
Basically, if someone ever calls you up and asks you to do a fondue party for fifty, my advice to you is to decline the offer, unless, of course, they are offering $2,000 for the job.
According to custom, if a lady loses her bread while dipping her fork into the fondue pot, she must kiss the man on her right. If a man loses his bread while eating fondue in a restaurant, he must buy the next round of drinks. At home, he may console himself by kissing his hostess.
Before the cheese-fondue pot is emptied, leave a thin layer of cheese on the bottom and lower the heat. This layer will form a delicious crust known as “la relgieuse” or “le crouton”. This delicacy is lifted out and shared with everyone at the table.
Fondue originated in Switzerland and more specifically in the Canton of Neuchatel. The dish consists of at least two varieties of cheeses that are melted with wine and a bit of flour and served communally out of pot called a “caquelon”. Long forks are used by each guest to spear a cube of bread then the bread is dipped into the cheese and eaten.
Fondue dates back to the 18th century when both cheese and wine were important industries in Switzerland. This simple to prepare meal utilized ingredients that were found in most homes.
Classic Cheese Fondue
8 oz Emmenthaler cheese, shredded
8 oz Grated Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 Clove garlic
2 cups Dry white wine
1 Tbs Lemon juice
1 tsp Cornstarch
3 Tbs Kirsch
dash nutmeg and paprika
Rub the inside of the fondue pot with cut clove of garlic. Pour in wine and lemon juice and heat gently until bubbling. Reduce the heat to low, toss cheese with cornstarch and gradually stir in grated cheeses, then continue to heat until cheeses melt, stirring frequently. Add Kirsch and spices and stir until mixture is thick and smooth. Do not allow fondue to boil. Serve with cubed bread.