By Laurel Lacher
LL: Where did you get your love for cooking?
AR: I don’t work in the food industry but I’ve always been passionate about cooking. My love for food and entertaining started at a young age cooking with my father who loved to entertain and who wouldn’t touch a recipe with less than 10 ingredients. I guess I follow in his footsteps. Especially with this year’s menu.
LL: What is your experience cooking for large events?
AR: When I moved to Tucson in the late 90’s my wife Heather and I occasionally invited everyone we knew over for a “Feast.” As we grew our roots in Tucson, these dinner parties became larger and larger, as did my ability to cook for large groups. In 2011, I started taking part in a yearly fundraiser for the Primavera Foundation where several apprentice chefs team up with a local restaurant to prepare a benefit dinner for up to 100 guests. These events involve 3 to 4 days of working side-by-side with a Tucson chef and through the years I’ve been able to cook at Feast, Pastiche, Tavolino, Acacia, Downtown Kitchen, Reforma, Agustin Kitchen, and Contigo. While this hardly qualifies me as a chef, it has given me insight into how a professional kitchen prepares meals for large events.
LL: What is your connection to TWS and fresh!?
AR: Heather and I have been part of TWS since 2009 and we love the school and the community. Currently our son Jeremiah is in 3nd grade and our daughter Hannah is in 6th grade. Years ago, I used to cook pulled-pork lunches for the TWS Craft Fair. Then I teamed up with CJ Shaffer and catered the Moroccan meal for fresh! 2016, the Indian meal for fresh! 2017, and the Cajun meal for fresh! 2018.
LL: What sort of menu are you developing for this year’s Birthdays Around the World theme?
AR: This year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Waldorf education and the 25th birthday of TWS with foods from around the world. Passed appetizers will come from Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. We are highlighting our closest neighbor Mexico for the main meal with a Mole Negro and a Mole Verde. Dessert will include a play on a birthday cake as well as a Sacher torte, which is an homage to Rudolf Steiner and his home country of Austria.
LL: Anything special about how the raw ingredients are acquired?
AR: We try to get as much as possible from local farms. This year we hope to get donations from the Tucson Village Farm, Sleeping Frog Farms, Crooked Sky Farms, the Tucson CSA, and the TWS garden. We’ll also need a trunk full of dried chiles for the mole!
LL: With three fresh! events under your belt, how has catering this event changed for you?
AR: It’s certainly given me a higher level of respect for restaurant workers. Running a kitchen and a large event is quite the mental and physical undertaking. But it’s so gratifying as well. I love the time spent developing the menu, which leads to the thrill of the kitchen, which leads to a beautiful evening shared with the TWS community. fresh! is such a wonderful event and I’m proud to be a part of it.