My alarm went off at 10:15 p.m., and I took a quick shower.  I was surprised at how rested I actually felt after the 74-minute nap, but who is counting! I gathered my two suitcases of food, decorations and other items needed to pull this thing off and went to the lobby.

We met at 10:50 pm and all 13 of us were there on time. We all gathered our stuff and headed to the car. That is when we realized we only had one van, and there were too many items for just one trip! After some creative engineering, the driver managed to get everything to the convention center in several trips. This put us  behind schedule, because we didn’t  get to the convention center until after midnight. We finally arrived to the convention center kitchen, and then we got to work.  We started to sort through the food  we bought that afternoon and began to unwrap the partially frozen items that we brought with us. I was very happy to see that everything that I brought with me was still in one piece and that nothing spoiled.

Initially, I was supposed to get my items together and then work with someone else and setup two glazing stations so the process will go quicker. This plan was quickly changed, and I wound up glazing a majority of the items for the show by myself while someone else prepared my items. I made the best of the situation since I wanted to make sure everything looked good for this expo since the China Hotel Association were such gracious hosts.

Prepared food is glazed in aspic or gelatin so it will look fresh throughout the three-day show. This is not an easy process, and it does take a lot of time because each piece needs to be dipped in the aspic, allowed to drip dry and then placed on the display plate. Once it is on the plate, it cannot be moved or the plate will look streaky. This leads to a messy presentation, which does not look good and defeats the entire purpose of showcasing food.

Not only did we have to glaze and plate all of the food, but we also had to prepare food for our demos that were supposed to start at 9 a.m. I was doing a shrimp and grits demo along with a PowerPoint on Southern Cuisine, and I was slotted for an 11:15 a.m. start time. There were eight demos that all needed food prepped along with the 12 tables of food that needed to be prepared, glazed and styled. Thankfully, everyone pulled their weight, and we finished around 5:30 a.m. Since the physical tables were not actually built yet, we got the go ahead to go back to our room and hang out until we had to meet in the lobby at 7 a.m. I know… it was a crazy night!