Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam opened last night to a packed house of happy adventure seekers, but while most were enjoying the show we snuck back into the kitchen of the show’s commissary to meet the chef in charge of over 100 members of the cast and crew, Brian Strom.
Strom was hired by Spectrum Catering, and independent contracting company, and he will be on the road from 40 to 50 weeks with intermittent two week breaks between each leg of the tour.
The chef started his career as a graduate of the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach in 2002 and went on to chef at large venue events such as a host of golf tournaments, Super Bowls, and the Olympics in both Toronto and Beijing. He has even cooked for both presidents Clinton and Bush the Elder.
How did you get started catering for the road company?
I was cooking at these large events and a friend told me about the position with Spectrum catering almost four years ago. I jumped on a plane and have loved it since. Had I known about this type of work, I would have been doing this many years earlier.
How many people do you have on staff?
There are seven of us including three chefs and three dining room attendants. But each of us are cross trained to work any position. No one can say “that’s not my job”.
We know the cast is made up of people of all nationalities, how do you cook for each of their tastes?
The cast represents at least 17 countries from Russia and Brazil to Norway and China. We gear our menus around their tastes and try to mix it up as much as possible. We will even take special requests. There are some that will give us their mother’s recipes and we use those.
What are some of the unusual requests?
We had two guys beg us for haggis and we were able to make that in a very small portion for them. Thirty in the show are Chinese nationals and we produce special meals just for them. You can’t just wing real Chinese food. We do some braised red pork belly and whole fish dishes for them.
Where do you procure all these groceries?
We buy as much locally as possible. Each Monday Greg King who is from Ashville will go out to the farmer’s markets and buy up anything that is fresh. In Dallas we are using Hirsch’s Meats and the Seafood Company. We push to get the local stuff.
What is a typical day like?
Most of the cast stay up late and train. They get to bed late, so we usually just serve a Continental breakfast. We have pans available so they can make their own eggs and such. We usually feed about twenty-five in the morning.
Lunches we will feed maybe seventy-five people and dinner will bring in up to ninety-five. There are some days when they will bring in guests and we can feed much more. We have a 22-piece salad bar, a sandwich station and always make several entrees, a starch and veggies.
Given that the show is from Canada, can you make a good poutine?
Yes I can! It all starts with the squeaky cheese and a good gravy. People try to over-do the gravy, but using the powder Knorr is the most authentic. It needs to be a little runny. The very best poutine is made at La Banquise in Quebec.Cirque du Soleil: Quidam Dr Pepper Ballpark, Frisco March 7 through March 11