Friday, 28 August 2015

Film Set Catering: The Odd Essay

SAM TAN'S KITCHEN HAS MOVED! Please visit the new website/online store at for all catering enquiries. You can also follow Sam on InstagramFacebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Sam Tan's Kitchen caters home-cooked food made from scratch for just about anything, from intimate romantic dinners to low-budget film shoots to canapĂ©-style receptions. To enquire for your next event, drop me a line at :)

These past two weeks, Sam Tan's Kitchen was happy to provide hot lunches and basic craft services for the USC feature-length thesis The Odd Essay. It was my first time catering on a film set for more than a few days, and it proved to be a fun challenge planning, shopping for and cooking completely different menus each day to feed an average of thirty people (including three vegetarians and two vegans with gluten and nut allergies), as well as making night-time deliveries to different locations every night for two weeks.

Below is a rundown of the entire menu, with pictures when I remembered to take them. Thank you to producer Shardul Sharma for trusting me to feed your crew, and I'm thrilled to hear you all liked the food!

The Odd Essay 12-Day Menu
(V) denotes vegetarian, (v/gf) denotes vegan and gluten-free

 The daily provision of basic craft services: an assortment of fruit, granola bars and chips (plus cookies on select days)

Day 1: Roasted peppers and zucchini (V, v/gf), creamy cheesy ziti bake with chicken, creamy cheesy ziti bake with mushroom (V), olio mushroom brown rice penne (v/gf)
Dessert: Belgian chocolate brownies

Day 2: 
Green bean salad with sesame and red onion (V, v/gf)
Chicken fried rice with shredded egg and green onions
Tofu fried rice with shredded egg and green onions (V)
Tofu fried rice with green onions (v/gf)

Day 3:
Garlic toasts (V)
Three cheese vegetable ragu lasagne (V)
Gluten-free brown rice penne with vege ragu and mushroom (v/gf)

Day 4:
Cucumber and tomato salad with green onion and olive oil dressing (V, v/gf)
Roast chicken legs with lemon, honey, mustard and sage
Steamed rice with mixed vegetables (V, v/gf)
Roast root vegetables (V, v/gf)

Day 5:
Oven roasted corn-on-the-cob (V, v/gf)
Creamy potato salad with green onions and egg (V)
Potato salad with apple cider vinaigrette (v/gf)
Chicken penne bake
Mushroom penne bake (V)
Mushroom olio brown rice penne (v/gf)

Day 6:
Red onion, tomato and cucumber salad (V, v/gf)
Penne arrabiata with chicken
Penne arrabiata with green peppers (V)
Brown rice fusili with green peppers (v/gf)
Moist carrot banana cake (V)

Day 7:
Yellow rice with mixed vegetables (V, v/gf)
Homemade chicken meatballs with lime and cilantro
Homemade vegan mushroom potato meatballs (V, v/gf)

Day 8: Asian green pepper and cucumber salad, chicken pad thai, tofu pad thai with eggs(V), tofu pad thai (v/gf)

Day 9: Ranch rolls (V), corn tortilla chips (v/gf), chicken and three-bean chili with cheese, three-bean chili with peppers and mushrooms (V)
Dessert: Crunchy top lemon cake

Day 10: Mixed leaf and tomato salad with balsamic vinaigrette (V, v/gf), creamy chicken and potato bake with cheesy breadcrumb topping, creamy leek and potato bake with cheesy breadcrumb topping (V), potatoes, leeks and mixed vegetables (v/gf). 
Dessert: peanut butter chocolate cookies and oat coconut cookies

Day 11Homemade beef and chicken burgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers (V), vegan burgers (v/gf), oven baked fries, condiments and toppings for self-assembly (burger buns, tomatoes, lettuce, red onion, pickles, cheese singles mustard and ketchup).
Dessert: Zesty bread and butter pudding

Day 12: Homemade vegetable spring rolls with Sriracha-lime-vinegar dipping sauce (V), Asian-style chicken fried rice with shredded egg, fried and green onions, mixed vegetable fried rice with egg, fried and green onions (V), mixed vegetable fried rice with green onions (v/gf)
Dessert: Moist chocolate cake with Belgian chocolate ganache


Saturday, 22 August 2015

Hearty Three-Bean Chicken Stew

Bacon, chicken chunks and three different beans, cooked to a rich tomato stew with a ton of different spices, and made creamy by a cheeky handful of cheese stirred in at the end. What's not to like? :)

I improvised this on the fly last night with leftover ingredients, so measurements are totally approximate. Feel free to add or omit anything on the list- I think carrots, zucchini or any chunky vegetables of your choice would make a great addition too.

Hearty Three-Bean Chicken Stew
Serves 8

*If you prefer not to use canned beans, just soak 3/4 cup of dried beans for each kind listed (so 2 1/4 cups dried beans total) overnight in water. Bring to a boil the next day and simmer for about 90 mins-2 hrs until cooked. You can use the water from cooking the beans in your stew.

Snip 200g streaky bacon into bits with some kitchen shears- I like to use Trader Joe's Bacon Ends and Pieces for cooking, and I much prefer kitchen scissors to a knife so I can cut it straight into the pot without getting a chopping board greasy.

Add a touch of olive oil and saute over medium-high heat until the fat from the bacon melts.

Add in and cook for a few minutes:
1 large cooking onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
A few dried chillies, crushed

Cut 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs into small chunks ( far prefer dark meat to white, but you can use chicken breast if preferred). Add to the pot and saute briefly until seared.

Pour in:
1 can (28 oz) chopped tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) each of pinto beans, red kidney beans and white canellini beans, drained (you can use just one type or other varieties if you prefer)
About 1 cup water (or the stock from cooking your dried beans if you did that)
1 tsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
A generous sprinkling of dried oregano, basil, thyme, smoked paprika and cayenne (or any other herbs you want)
Lots of freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
1 bay leaf

Bring to a boil, then simmer on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 30-45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened.

Right at the end, stir in a tiny handful of grated cheese to make creamy (I had a Mexican blend of asadero, sharp cheddar, queso blanco and Monterey Jack lying around).

Let cool slightly before serving. Eat on its own, with rice or with bread.

Tastes even better as leftovers the next day!