While I work on writing up the recipes I tested last night — with assistance from my brother-in-law Larry — for At Home’s Cajun Superbowl Party and putting together the Superbowl Party Planner, I thought you might enjoy this story from At Home about Philadelphia’s first event on Penn’s Landing’s Great Plaza — the Jambalaya Jam. Look for how to get the complete Party Planner with recipes tomorrow.
A Really Big Event
The Great Plaza on Philadelphia’s Delaware River needed an appropriately scaled event to celebrate its opening in 1986. The Great Plaza was to be the cornerstone of the long-awaited riverfront development. A suitably grand festival was planned over a Memorial Day weekend. Philadelphia’s first Jambalaya Jam was modeled on and planned with the producers of New Orleans’ renown Jazz & Heritage Festival. The Crescent City’s festival was the granddaddy of all food and music events, showcasing everything from alligator to zydeco. Frog Commissary Catering was selected to provide all the food for the rain-or-shine event. Months of planning included repeated trips to Bourbon Street and environs. As the weekend approached—with clear skies forecast—we set up a giant field kitchen with appropriately sized refrigerated trailers in the parking area under the plaza and started cookin’. In order to avoid transporting resupply through the crowds, we used a giant high reach—a stage-sized platform on wheels that drove the perimeter of the elevated plaza and lifted staff and supplies to lines of hungry customers. Round and round the high reach went, with buckets of fresh-cooked jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish etouffee and oyster po’ boys. Over three nights and two days we served 65,000 customers some of the best food this side of the Mississippi to the sounds of jazz, funk and Dixieland on five stages. It was a really big event.
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Your Home Entertaining Coach