Nothing will test your tolerance of alternative lifestyles like catering for a film crew of 30 that includes one militant vegan, one lactose-intolerant eater who thinks that "it" is absorbed through the skin, two self-described vegetarians who also eat turkey but only if it's organic, five coffee drinkers who refuse to use artificial sweeteners like Equal but have no problem pouring three containers of creamy chemicals into every cup they drink.
And then there are the ominivores who just want people to fuss over them.
"Are these egg noodles?"
"Are there milk solids in this soup?"
"It's homemade tomato rice soup."
"So there's no milk in it?"
"No milk in it."
"Can we have bleu cheese dressing?"
"I don't like vanilla soy milk, can we have chocolate?"
"Not on this budget."
"How about rice milk?"
A week into the shoot, the crew was beginning to turn on the vegan because in addition to the entrees for the carnivores and the vegetarians, we had to provide an entree just for her. She was fired Sunday night and I'm convinced it was because the crew couldn't take one more day of steamed veggies with tofu and fried rice without the little pieces of egg. And now there's a slot on the menu for another entree for the majority.
Of course we want to accommodate people's food preferences, but it was getting silly.
"Can we get some Blue Mountain coffee?"
"Could we have sushi one day?"
Both my partner and I understand picky eating. He is allergic to mushrooms, allergic to fish, hates eggplant and lima beans and loathes coconut. I'm with him on the eggplant, although I make a decent baba ghanouj, and while he slathers his sandwiches with mayonnaise, I gag at the smell of it. But when you're working a low-budget film, there's not a lot of financial wiggle room to please everyone. If you're allergic to everything under the sun then, with respect, consider packing a lunch.
To be fair, most of the crew members are really appreciative and complimentary. (The bread pudding we served for dessert today was a huge hit and everybody liked the chicken pot pies.) We offer doggie bags for people who want to take leftovers home. And the only time we ever ran out of scrambled eggs at breakfast was the morning one of the crew members took (I'm not kidding) a quadruple portion and then came back for seconds.
The fact is, I'm having a good time, because I love cooking for people, but it gives me real insight into what it must be like dealing with A-list actors and their diets.