Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cheese Heads

Tonight the NFL season kicks off and in honor of the Packers v Saints game I will pay tribute to the people of  Wisconsin. I am not a Packers fan, nor am I  from Wisconsin, nor have I ever lived in Wisconsin, actually I'm not even sure I have ever been to Wisconsin.  But I do know people from Wisconsin and like most Midwesterners, they are very proud of their state and even more proud of their football team. Sure, I love the fact that the team is owned by people, I love the Lambeau leap and I really love/am confused by these cheese head hats that they wear. But what I am most impressed with is the level they will take their love for cheese.

This is a good look

My Cheesehead Story, A Tribute

I spent several years working at "Not Bucca" (name has been changed to protect Maggiano's) in Chicago. Banquet facilities were built while I was working there. Now I'm using the term "built" loosely, the banquet facilities were carved out under the restaurant, basement style. If you know anything about the plumbing and sewer system in downtown Chicago, then you know I have enough stories about these banquet facilities to keep this blog going for the next 120 years. But I digress as those stories are for another time. In order to keep a small group of us off the dining room floor, we were "promoted" to banquets. The banquet spaces weren't huge but they were popular and unique to the area.

The weekends quickly filled with rehearsal dinners, bar mitzvah, baby showers and wedding receptions and soon this small group of banquet staff I belonged to was making quite a bit of money. For the most part the events were pretty straight forward...cocktail hour, family style dinner, speeches and video and then desserts. "Not Bucca" provided everything from food to wedding cakes to speciality linens to ice carvings. The special orders were pretty similar so it was always exciting when a client was doing something unique.

One Saturday night we had an anniversary party booked. The couple, who was from Wisconsin,  had been married 20 years and had invited all their friends and family to celebrate their love.  Reading through their contract it looked pretty standard except for the fact that they were bringing in a "sculpture" to be on display during the event. As we were setting up the room we placed a cocktail table near the bar as a display table for the "sculpture". Not really thinking much about, it we continued with the set up as normal. As we were finishing, a member from the party arrived early to drop off the sculpture. As we offered to take the sculpture (which was completely covered) for him, he hesitated and said he would feel more comfortable placing it on the display table himself. As we showed him to the display table he gently and gingerly set the sculpture down. Now we were getting curious. As he started to unwrap the sculpture the room came to stand still as our heads, one by one, started to turn around and saw a piece of art of some sort. We were blinded by the bright orange color, the smell was familiar yet confusing, and like the Mona Lisa, it was much smaller than expected. It was a carving, that much we could tell. But of what and out of what? Like moths to a light, we were drawn to this piece of art and before we knew it we had gathered in a circle around the sculpture. That is when one brave banquet waiter quietly and somewhat excitedly asked, "What is it?".  And then the guest proudly stepped back and addressed us. As he spoke, he never looked at us but kept his eyes transfixed on the sculpture. He stated, "What we have here is block of cheddar cheese with the happy couple's faces carved into it. Take good care of her, she came all the way from Wisconsin.".  As quickly as he arrived he was gone, leaving us gazing in amazment at this..........

The happy couple are the 2 on the left.

Years have passed since then, but to me a cheese head will always mean something slightly different. Good luck to the Green Bay Packers tonight and all you cheese heads out there!

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