Anyone who has ever cooked for a dinner party knows the essential ingredient is planning.
Imagine cooking dinner for 5,000 and the planning that requires.
Mackie Gmitter, executive chef at the Austin, Texas, barbecue eatery The Salt Lick, is gearing up to cook for attendees at Woodies, a music festival that’s part of the city’s South by Southwest fest.
The awards ceremony from that festival, the “2014 mtvU Woodie Awards,” airs Sunday, March 16, on MTV and mtvU. A few weeks before acts took the stage, Gmitter’s menu was set.
“It is a bit of a challenge cooking for this amount of people for the Woodie Awards,” he tells Zap2it. “We need to be a lot more prepared. The first chef I worked for always told me, ‘If you are not two days ahead, you are one day behind.’ “
Gmitter and his team begin preparations by making sauces and seasoning meat. This is the third time he’s cooking for the Woodies. He’s making chopped brisket sliders, smoked turkey sliders, pork ribs, coleslaw and Hatch green chili mac and cheese.
He is also planning “sloppy nachos,” and considering regular ones are not the neatest food, these must be something special, with smoked Gouda and a few other cheeses and chopped beef.
His crew makes corn and flour tortillas on site, which gives them, Gmitter says, “that unique flavor. Nothing store bought. You can taste the difference in the first bite.”
His coleslaw includes jicama and apple with bleu cheese and sweet corn. “It complements the smokiness and tanginess of barbecue,” he says.
Like all barbecue restaurants, The Salt Lick has a secret sauce.
“Our barbecue sauce is much different than traditional barbecue sauce in Texas,” says the Texan. “It’s a noncook barbecue sauce. Ours is mustard-based, with a good amount of sugars in the spice mix as they smoke. The sugars start caramelizing on the ribs or pulled pork, and we serve our barbecue sauce with the meats as well.”
What did you have for dinner last night?
“I was hanging out with a couple of co-workers, and we decided to do something a little different. We did a seasoned fried chicken, sweet potato waffles and honey bacon whipped cream.”
What is always in your refrigerator?
“It just depends on the seasons of the year. It could be fresh fruit to a really good sale on steaks at the market. Anything I can find at the farmers market.”
What’s the one food you hate cooking?
“Being a foodie and someone relatively new in the culinary world, if I had to pick a least favorite, it would probably be seafood.”
What is your next project?
“Growing the brand. We do have Salt Lick Cellars, about 25 acres of vineyards on the property. We are doing our own wines. I have collaborated on a menu for the Salt Lick Cellars and [am] making flat breads and steaks in wood ovens.”