Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sunset Soiree is SOLDOUT!

Hey there! Well, that's the word on the street ... thanks to you...

Sunset, Spirits and Sliders, my rooftop pool party at Caesar's for the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival is SOLD OUT! Yaaaaay! I was wondering if I'd be alone poolside trying to plow through hundreds of sliders and bottles of rum just to be cost effective :-).

This great news is just in time for me to share with you what I did Tuesday...
Look like a boardwalk? Well, it is! I took a quick train trip down to Atlantic City to check the scene and also check the preparations for the party. I am a burger person and believe a great patty can be ruined by bad bread, so I wanted to do a little bread investigating and tasting. The next thing you know, the Caesar's culinary team prepped my whole menu! Totally didn't expect to cause such a fuss, but I'm happy because the catering gene is still in me and it's hard to let go of control. Plenty of things can go wrong when you're cooking for a crowd. I gave up control once last year for something and dealt silently with a recipe that was supposed to be crunchy, but ended up being soggy because of a small error. Meeting and chatting with the kitchen staff about timing may have fixed things, so now I have my caterers hat back on. That's some behind the scenes stuff you may not readily know; when we are asked to host an event and provide food, we very seldom make it ourselves. We pass on our recipes to chefs and hope for the best. Luckily for me, my stuff is pretty simple. but the funny thing is some chefs have a hard time being simple. There's always an added on ingredient or different plating. I don't mind it, it's creative flair, totally not a knock, just an observation. Because trust me ... I'm not rolling out puff pastry anytime soon. I'll take the freezer section :-). I love all food people.

Ok, well if you have tickets to Sunset, Spirits and Sliders, I took pics to share with you so you can hopefully get excited like I am! We started the meeting at the bar to sample my signature cocktails for the event.
That's my Sans Souci Punch, Honeydew Tropic Freeze, Brooklyn Iced Tea and my Watermelon Mojito. In a recent post, the drinks were slightly different. We decided to feature white and dark rum drinks only, so I changed the menu a bit. The sponsor makes vodka and all kinds of spirits, but thought it smart to focus. I agreed and streamlined the drinks. The bartender said he wasn't photogenic, so I cropped him out, but big thanks to him and his bar staff. All of the drinks tasted just like I shook them myself! We cut the honeydew after discussing how hard it would be to keep cold without ice in the humid weather and the separation of solids happens much faster when warm. So, it's just the 3. I may add another quick drink to pair with the Lamb slider, that was what the honeydew drink was for. Something light and refreshing to go with the cucumber in the sauce for the slider. I'll keep you posted.

Up next, after the taste test we chatted a bit about conveyance and which drink would go into what cup?
Caesar's doesn't want broken glass all over the pool deck so we are tippin' with plastic! These are some of the options and then we looked through a book of other options. I chose a sphere-like bottle from the book for the Brooklyn Iced Tea, but the others are pretty much in front of the drink they are matched to. The drinks are going to be passed by wait staff because I actually don't like to wait at the bar for a drink. How do you feel about that? I don't want you frustrated waiting for something to wash down the sliders and cool off the summer breeze. I also wanted the containers the drinks are served in to be small enough so you can have each drink without getting too tipsy or throwing out a drink so you can taste another ... maybe I need a life guard on duty? :-) That being said, no swimming. The pool will have plenty of pretty little floaters with night-lights.

Up next after the drink tasting, Chef Keith came out of no where with a long paddle board loaded with my sliders!
In order from left to right is my Oyster Po Boy Sliders, then the Mini Chicken Chorizo Patty Melt (on an upcoming Cooking for Real), my Opa! Lamb Slider and my newest favorite and Chef Keith's as well, my Caprese Burger. Many of these sliders are just miniature versions of larger recipes. The patty melt is a recipe I tape in August and the Caprese Burger isn't on tap yet for Cooking for Real, but will be available soon. Here's a messy closeup of my latest baby ...
It's a tasty burger I season and top with roasted tomato slices, fresh basil and smoked mozzarella. I make this in a steak form as well under the broiler, too easy and tasty at the same time. I did my best to not overload myself at the tasting because I've learned at previous Burger Bashes that under-indulgence is the way to go. That's why I also varied the protein, I thought "Who wants to eat all that ground beef in the heat?". So, hope you like the variety! Here are some of the ladies helping pull this event together ...
In the foreground sitting in a newspaper funnel holder are the bar snacks. My "Don't Lose All Your Fried Plantain Chips" and "Sunny's Sunset Veggie Chips". If you've never had fried beets before, I can't wait for you to try mine! I use golden and red beets, perfect to mirror the colors of the sunset!

Then we headed upstairs to the rooftop to check the pool scene. I'll have you know on the way to the pool is a huuuuuge glassed-in gym with people working out on treadmills and stuff and you have to walk in a hallway with that on one side of you and a wall on the other. My first question as a joke was "Oh my, I have to walk past people working out on the way to eat burgers and drink at a party?", funny thing is the main party planner, Moira, replied almost instantly "Yeah, we're covering those windows to the gym with some black paper". We all chuckled, but really who wants to be reminded of what they really should be doing while on the way to eating and drinking? Teeheehee. Needless to say, if you over indulge at the party maybe we can all agree to meet in the gym the next morning for 30 minutes on the treadmill? Or in the hot tub ...
That's a view of the bubbles with the pool deck in the background. Off to the left is the bar you won't have to wait at for a drink, but you're welcome to belly up. We are leaving the stools, but removing the lounge chairs for nicer lounge chairs. Here's another flick ...
That's from upstairs in what the planners called the "VIP" area. I was like ... "whaaaat?". I don't want a VIP only area, I want everyone to be able to not only hang out, but see the pretty view. It's hard to see the view on the actual pool level. So, I'm assured after the 30 minute meet and greet I have with executives and VIP ticket holders right at the beginning of the party, the "VIP" level will be open to everyone, so we can all enjoy a pretty view if we like. The pool level is nice though. I wonder who will break the ice and dip their feet in the pool first? Please ... someone get the party started :-). Here's another photo looking the other way ...
The planners have different poolside furniture rented and I also requested some high and low tables for the sitters and the standers. So ladies, wear those cute heels! The cracks between the faux-wood planks on the deck are very small, so no worries about stiletto shoes, but I'd still opt for something more comfy. I think I'm wearing a sundress and sandals. Plus the cabanas (not pictured, but there are 2) will stay and whoever wants to chill in them can. I want this to be an easy breezy party. I sent in a list of music for the DJ ... oh yeah, we have a DJ! At first, they had no music planned. When I suggested a DJ they suggested my personal iPod hooked up to speakers instead. It hurt my DJ gene to hear that lol. I'm a DJ believer, so I nudged a little and really it made sense to have a human spinning the tunes in the end, so they agreed! Only a human knows when to play Tears for Fears or the Beastie Boys. I don't know the name of the DJ yet, but I did submit a playlist of sorts. Plenty of 80s pop, some 90s and current top 40 and what I call radio Hip Hop, no cursing. I have everything in my iPod, but who wants to hear Journey right next to Ice Cube? Well, actually I do, but decided to spare you the audio train wreck of my album versions and hire someone to smooth it out. Hopefully, someone will start the party by dancing!!! Can't wait!!! Special requests for specific songs can be made in comments. I totally am a music person, so hit me with your best shot! (Pat Benetar)

Ok, that's all I have to share except ...
Look familiar? Well, If you are from or have ever passed through Pittsburgh, PA, it's one of the bridges downtown. I'm in town to hang out and cook at Giant Eagle's huge grocery store in the Robinson Market District. If you are in the area come on by Saturday and hang out with me for an hour or so. The event is called The Real Thing!. It's free and all you have to do is register here! The seats are all "sold out", but standing room and I believe bleacher-type seating is available. I hear Martha Stewart just hosted a similar event last month and then spent plenty of time shopping in the store afterwards despite her tight schedule. So, I can't wait to see it! After talking to the event planners it sounds like a gourmet international food court, with a grocery store attached. Crazy! Huge change from the small stores in my neighborhood.

Check me out on Pittsburgh's KDKA tomorrow morning making my Summer Corn Salad and talking about the event. Pittsburgh's Today Live is the CBS affiliate and I'll be on around 8 o'clock Friday morning. I have a full day of eating planned after that and then Saturday I'm ready to cook and eat, for real :-). Here's the menu for Saturday. Everyone get's to eat! I chose some of my summer faves that are easy and tasty. These are on deck the most in my backyard this summer;

Dill Hummus and Toasted Pita Wedges
Lamb Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce
Sunny's Summer Corn Salad
Quick Pear Tart

Can't wait to meet you if you are coming! Please post a comment so I can look for you in the crowd! Take care and whether it's the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival or Giant Eagle, see you soon and thanks for selling out my first special event at a food festival!

18 comments:

Jen said...

You know I'll be there with bells on! :) And I'm bringing a few of my girlfriends along for the fun! Can't wait!! The menu looks fabulous!

I hope you're having fun in Pittsburgh! I went to college NE of Pittsburgh so I'm familiar with KDKA! Have you hit up an Eat n Park yet? LOVE that place - reminds me of my college days. The Smiley Cookies are delicious! :)

Sunny Anderson said...

jen, hey girl! thanks for the email! it made me contact moira my party planner and ask if i was really sold out! i'd just asked her the day before at the meeting how ticket sales were and she said only 20 were left. must've gone over night. how crazy, eh?? i can't waaaait! i dare you to not say anything to me first and let me find you in the crowd based on your profile pic! lol see you soon!

Anonymous said...

I live in Georgia. I just watched Sunny talk about growing up in Georgia. She must have moved when she was very little because she doesn't know the correct pronunciation of Vidalia onions. It's vy-dale-ya. Please tell all the other chefs at Food Network. It shows reduces credibility when you can't pronounce the words correctly.

LindaHensens said...

**Sigh**
One of these days, you will host something in or around Raleigh, NC, and I may be able to attend to actually get a chance to meet you. We just returned from Canada earlier in June, and when we went through Buffalo, NY towards Carlisle PA for our 1st leg of the trip home, I did think about you and I wished like nobody's business that we were in your part of NY.

One of these days! I hope that you get to make that Caprese Burger sometime on CFR. It looks yummy! I love Caprese salad, so that just HAS to be good!

I have been having the hardest time finding good bread for my burgers at home. It seems like every time I find one that my husband and I like, it gets discontinued or something else equally as silly. What kind of bread do you use for your burgers, Sunny? Do you actually bake your own because there isn't anything that great or what? I would appreciate your input on this dilemna. It is driving me insane!

Thank you.. and I really wish that you could pull some strings and get an event done somewhere close to me! Pretty please with whipped cream, cherries, AND chocolate sauce on top?:)

Linda in NC

Sunny Anderson said...

anon, teeheehee, well you are right about 2 things! i did move away when i was young and i do pronounce it in northern dialect. we don't do long "A's" up here ... that being said, when i was down in Savannah a couple of months ago taping with miss Paula Deen, i knew of my issue and asked her on camera to clear it up and help me pronounce it like a southerner :-) ... i can't wait for it to air so people will relax. i think a better way to think about it is, i'm not really losing credibility, accents are accents, but what i AAAAAM trying to do is shine a spotlight on something you obviously love, and i love it too, now what's so wrong about that? thanks so much for watching and even more for commenting, i hope my horrible accent doesn't make you so mad that you don't catch the show from time to time :-)

linda, that choc sauce on top ma seal the deal ... i hve my people on it! ahem, i don't really have "people" lol, but we'll get on it! about the bread, i found a good bakery close by that i use. don't under estimate a bakery. i also know it sounds crazy, but there is a soup and sandwich place that rhymes with schmamera bread, they sell good bakery stuff in some markets if you have the chain close to you. i do bake bread though, just not for burgers.

reyna said...

First of Congrats Sunny on selling out your first F&W event that is just awesome but I'm saddened cause its I'm NY and I can't go :(. Hope you host one down here in FL :) BTW, the spirits and slides look AMAZIN'

Joe said...

Congrats on the tickets being sold out, Sunny! Sounds like a fun time for all!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sweetheart,
I've sure missed blogging with you and my fellow blogger-fam. First off, don't worry about the pronunciation of words--I can't think of anything better than the differences that make us all up, i.e. you say tomato...

Secondly,
I am so excited and happy for you--I only wish I could be there at your event; right there pool side, but believe me I plan on making the next one. :) I've been super busy trying to get my boutique up and running but I'll find time to play just as hard as I've been working. I would just love to meet you and a lot of the other personalities such as the Neelys, Sandra Lee and others. BTW, do you know when there will be new shows for the Neelys?

Even though I don't get the chance to blog, just know that you're in my prayers and I see even bigger and brighter things in your future. Love you much.

Linda (B'Ham)

Holly said...

Sunny - congrats on the sold-out event - hubby and I can't wait to see you there!! I was just in AC this weekend on a Harrah's PR trip, and they are really promoting the festival. Can't wait to try the oyster po'boys and the plantain and veggie chips!

Mary at Deep South Dish said...

Oh what fun! I'm so jealous!!

Kase said...

Sunny,

Your Sunset Soiree sounds like it's gonna be hot. I wasn't even aware Atlantic City had a food and wine festival until your blog. I will def make time to arrange to go next year. Although I won't be able to attend, I wanted to make some music suggestions to get people dancing..these songs always seems to work when I go to work parties and you have people from different backgrounds and cultures. You can't go wrong with the Electric Slide, Cha Cha Slide, or even the Cupid Shuffle. I guarantee you play some of those, people will get on the dance floor. You can't help but get your dance on. I hope that helps.

Kase

Mary said...

Hi Sunny, Looking forward to your event in AC. For music, would love to hear Kid Rock-- All Summer Long...that definitely will get the party started. Also, will there be any non-alcoholic drinks available? My boyfriend does not drink. Thanks...can't hardly wait to meet you. Mary

Sunny Anderson said...

reyna, yaaaay! thanks! i honestly was just worried about it being empty. can't believe it's sold out! super crazy. hope i get one down in florida too!

joe, thanks! i hope everyone has a great time!! i'll take pics and share!

linda, i agree. i moved a jillion times growing up so i am totally used to getting picked on for having the wrong accent for where i am lol. i also used to get the comments about my diction being too perfect growing up. i never worried. i love words. wish you could be at the pool party too! i can't wait t eventually meet everyone on here, i think it can actually happen. a trip here, a vacation there ... we'll run into each other somehow. good to hear from ya again!

holly, thanks!!! woooohoooo! can't wait to meet you guys! foodie couple are cool. nice to have someone with the same interest join you for a life journey, eh!? hope you like the chips too!

mary, :-( don't be jealous, as usual, i'll do my best to blog like all-get-out (southern slang) and make you feel like you were there.

kase, you gotta make plans next year if i get another go at it. and the cha cha slide?!?!? i haven't heard that in ages lol. never even heard of the cupid shuffle. i'll tell the dj.

mary, good question ... lemme make that happen for your guy. and kid rock!!! heck yeah!!! ok, i'm tellin the dj. can't wait to meet ya!!

Lexi said...

Hi Sunny,

Can't wait for your party in AC and thank you so much for your sneak peak! I am treating my husband to the event for his birthday...he won't admit it but he has a crush on you and is really excited :p

Anonymous said...

Hey, Sunny...watch you often. But down here in Texas, where the pecan is our state tree, we know that a "pee-can" is something Mom always packed for a long road trip. It's also a dead giveaway that the speaker is a Yankee.

Sunny Anderson said...

anon, thanks for watching! i actually say "pecan" both ways ... it's like the weather, it changes from day to day! just depends on when you catch me saying it. that's mostly because i've lived both in the north and south. san antonio still stands as the longest i've lived in one city ...

Anonymous said...

Hey Sunny, Congrats on your sold out event and thanks for the sneak preview! It looks amazing. My husband and I are super excited and can't wait to hit the rooftop on Saturday.

Mary said...

Sunny, thanks for a wonderful time. Kevin and I had so much fun. It was so nice to meet and greet you and the way you mingled with each guest was awesome to watch. Thanks again for the wonderful non-alcoholic cucumber drink you made available for Kevin. You are definitely a woman of your word. And Yes, the DJ did play Kid Rock--All Summer Long. The food and drinks were fantastic. I hope you are coming out with a cookbook soon. Forever your Fan--Mary