On "Day Zero," Hanadoki Con was open to everyone, with badges or without. I was given a budget to host a Taco Party in the Chanticleer Room on the 9th floor, which is a fine place for a party. We served rice, black beans, pinto beans, soy chorizo, ground beef, what-should-have-been shredded beef, chicken mole, and chicken in barbecue sauce. The carnitas was not ready that night. We also had tortillas, taco shells, tortilla chips, sour cream, guacamole, chopped tomato and onion, hot sauce, and several kinds of salsa. Also an assortment of soft drinks, diet soda, and some pitchers of iced tea, orange juice and limeade.
If I were to do it all over again, I'd change a few things about how I handle it. I got the crockpots started about three hours later than I'd planned, which meant that we only had one of the six fillings available at a time, instead of a buffet of five meat options plus the vegetarian chorizo all at the same time. Since the soy chorizo was ready first, when we opened that was all we had and it went very quickly. The beef and chicken didn't cook long enough to shred by themselves, so I had to use a knife to cut up the chicken. And the pork wasn't really ready to eat until hours after we closed.
Because I was running late, I didn't do all the shopping myself; and I didn't correctly estimate how much of everything I'd need. (Lots more than I had bought.) We had about 30 lbs. of meat and chorizo; at 6 tacos per pound, that would be at least 180 tacos. If each taco takes a teaspoon of chopped tomato and a tablespoon of sour cream, that's almost a quart of tomato and 3 quarts of sour cream. And so forth...
Also they had various live program events going on from 8:00 pm to midnight, but no Hospitality of any kind. The Con Suite's hours didn't begin until Friday morning, so we were slammed with people who just wanted something, anything, to nosh on.
In an ideal world, I'd make these changes next time I try this.
- Check in Wednesday night so as to have all day Thursday in town to do the shopping and prep.
- Get a room to use as pantry-kitchen that's not the one I'm sleeping in. I usually get two beds; if we use a hotel room, one with just one bed would give us more room to work in.
- Estimate quantities better.
- Spend more, especially on drinks.
- Make salsa from fresh ingredients. A typical recipe for salsa will make a gallon or so per batch, which is the sort of quantity that would be good.
- Recruit three crews. At least one or two helpers per crew. Daytime prep, for two or three hours in the afternoon. The hour before and an hour or two into the party. Teardown, including dishwashing arrangements.
- Buy more extra snacks for the random "con suite" crowd.
- Have a mechanism in place for counting visitors, with or without badge. I.e. party stickers; ribbons won't do if badges are optional.
- Skip the pitchers of drinks, unless they can be made more prominent, e.g. large urns.
Next: PB&J report.